“I was always wanting to be apart of the national scene”
Growing up on a family ranch outside of the Dallas, Texas area, Jenna Paulette was heavily influenced by many country musical artists, notably George Strait and the Dixie Chicks. “I think I fell in love with, especially George Strait, the way that he takes songs that just make you feel something and the pedal steel in most of his stuff is just so hauntingly beautiful and communicates emotion I think better than words do sometimes and I was just romanced by that whole idea,” she told us in a recent interview. “I related to George because he kinda represents all of my favorite men in my life like my grandfather is a cowboy and taught me everything I know about cattle and I just really respect who he is as a person and what he represents as a man and so I think I just took all of that and was like ‘If I can make people feel the way George Strait makes me feel then I’ll be doing a good job,’ that’s a major goal for me.” “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Wide Open Spaces” by Dixie Chicks were among songs that made Paulette feel those things, while she was experiencing life on a ranch.
Singing in choir herself, her mother recognized the talent and passion Paulette had for country music at a very young age and always encouraged her dreams. Paulette was apart of four choirs in high school, including an all-state team group a regional group. Everything she experienced from life on the ranch made her recognize she always wanted to pursue country music as a career. Paulette started writing music in college and became more interested in the people who were writing her favorite songs rather than the artists who were singing them, “I would read the back of Carrie Underwoods’ records and be like ‘Oh my gosh, who are writing these songs that are making me cry’ and one of them was Ashley Gorley.” After college, Paulette visited Nashville when she was introduced to Gorley by the wife of the pastor of Gorley’s church. Shortly after meeting the hit-making songwriter, Paulette sent Gorley the first songs she had ever written which grew into him seeing the potential in her and coached her into commercial country songwriting. Continuing to be her mentor for the next couple of years, Paulette was traveling back and forth from Texas to Nashville, visiting Nashville once a month for a week at a time writing as many songs as she could with Gorley. He then sat her down, telling her “If you want to play this game, you have to be present to win.” Paulette then made the move to Nashville at the beginning of 2016.
Meeting with labels, she would describe her style of music as a cowgirl vibe which resulted in being pitched with songs that would be “too western” or “so pop it wasn’t country at all,” that’s when she knew she would have to show everyone what she meant. “One day I was on this road trip and the words ‘New West’ came into mind because I was like I’m a cowgirl but I’m so not like old school cowgirl, I’m a new version of whatever that means and all of the feelings that come along with it that you love about me, the west and the ideas of the west and new west popped into my brain and that just kind of became my goal and I started writing towards that and everything started making sense.” Paulette describes ‘New West’ as commercial country music with western ideas and undertones and a slight bit of pop underneath. She then moved on to release three songs with corresponding music videos on CMT last fall that made those people in Nashville begin to understand her sound. “I am really thankful that it didn’t happen before now because I don’t think I knew who I was in a way that I could make a whole career out of it and I think everything happens for a reason and I’m extremely thankful for all the voices that coached me along the way,” she tells us.
Paulette is a member of Song Suffragettes, an all-female songwriting collective in Nashville. It wasn’t until joining the prominent group that she noticed the lack of women being played on country radio. The Texas-native feels a sense of obligation for the future of female airplay, “It put responsibility on me like, okay, well what’s my part in all of this and how do I break down the barrier myself and do such a good job that they want to play what I’m putting out… Let’s be so good they can’t ignore it.”
Her current single, “F-150,” co-written with Mark Trussell, was the “it” song for her. On her way to the writing session with Trussell, Paulette pulled into three different parking lots to stop and note the melody of the chorus and idea for the hook that popped into her head immediately. It took Trussell and Paulette two writing sessions to complete the song’s lyrics. She tells us she feels the spacing of the hook makes the whole thing make sense, “Baby drive me… crazy, like you drive your F-150”
“F-150 is apart of her lane as where she wants to continue to grow as an artist and the type of song that she is passionate about and can sing over and over again and enjoy herself every single time. This is the type of song she feels equipped with to play in arenas one day.
Gaining some experience by opening for Zac Brown Band, she loves to watch artists who are exactly where she wants to be in the future, taking notes from the people who inspire her. Paulette is gearing up to release an EP this year, along with two more visually artistic music videos for new songs. Keep up with the new western artist on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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