Our Swag Spotlight this week is a New York native, singer-songwriter J. Antonette. Growing up in Utica, NY she has heard her fair share of “New York isn’t country” but she begs to differ, being just twenty minutes from cows in any direction. When she was younger she listened to the Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss, and Reba McEntire, even naming her first dog Reba. Her parents listened to all different genres of music but she recalls her mother being a die-hard Michael Bolton fan and taking her to his concert when she was only five years old. She remembers being close to the stage and Bolton coming down into the audience, holding her hand and singing to her, a moment that came full circle later in her life when she had the opportunity to sing background vocals for the Grammy winner.
Another artist’s career that she followed from a young age was Melissa Etheridge. “I remember I would sing “Come To My Window” and “I’m The Only One” into my hairbrush staring into my mirror,” Antonette explains. Another full circle moment, and a highlight of her life, she ended up falling into a gig singing background vocals for her as well. “I fell into the background singing thing, I never thought I would be a singer, I wanted to be a writer and only a writer,” she tells us. “I was really afraid to be the front person, I still get anxiety because it’s a lot of pressure.”
After traveling back and forth from New York to Nashville and L.A, she made the commitment to split her time between both places. “I think that the New York country community has gotten stronger but I wanted to surround myself with different writers, that was just recently back in January that I made the move”. Since making the move, she has focused on songwriting and deciding on exactly what she wants to say with her music. She is also constantly on the road whether she is opening for artists, singing background vocals or performing at her own gigs. “I really feel like no one can put a limitation on your own destiny if you work really hard and are talented. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss being around my family and friends in New York,” Antonette tells us.
She started songwriting when she was a little girl, using it as a therapy to get through childhood struggles with her family. “I struggle to be vulnerable, in those moments of writing, I felt like I won’t be judged for my thoughts or feelings.” She tells us that her latest single “Something I Said”, was written when she was driving to the beach out in Montauk, New York after dealing with a nasty breakup. “This guy was just awful and at the end, I laid it out, I was brutally honest and of course when I was honest he got offended,” she explains. Take a listen to “Something I Said” above.
She is looking ahead to writing and releasing a full-length EP before the fall and continuing to make connections and friends in Nashville.
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