Our Swag Spotlight this week shines on LJ, a Houston, Texas native who moved to Nashville back in 2017 to pursue her love of songwriting and infuses her own blend of country music. Growing up in a huge family, LJ tells us in a recent interview that she loved listening to her dad play guitar, played sports from a young age and considered herself a tomboy, fishing and hunting. It wasn’t until she hit her teenage years that she really took an interest in music, at age 13 her father gave her his guitar to play around with and she would listen to Sheryl Crow and Colbie Calliat and eventually taught herself how to play by ear. “We daydream when we are kids, some people want to be an astronaut, a fireman or a doctor or whatever that may be but I hadn’t’ really daydreamed about music until I was in high school,” she explains.
She recalls loving all different types of music growing up, including Latin music, dance music, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, and Brian McKnight but being from Texas, George Strait was definitely one of her biggest musical influences. She recalls seeing him play at Greune Hall when she was young and being enamored by his stage presence and the live music. From a young age, she loved certain melodies and she loves that she can bring those different melodies that she grew up loving and help evolve her own, now in a music career of her own.
She met her husband, Ricky, while he was playing baseball for Rice University and she was his support system through his career playing professionally. She tells us that it wasn’t that she put her dreams on hold, but she knew she wanted to be there for him, traveling with him and supporting his career. All the while, LJ was working on creating connections, networking as well as experience what the life of someone always on the road is like, something that would bode well for her future career. “All of this traveling and grind of trying to make it to the majors, it was equipping me to realize the work that goes into making it in the music industry, all of the steps that it takes not just to get a record deal, there is so much you pour into that.”
The day after retired and played his last game, the two of them hopped into a Uhaul and moved to Nashville, ready to start realizing and trying to follow her career path as a musician and songwriter in Music City. “If there is something you are supposed to do, I think a lot of people can look back on their journies in life and they were probably were once in a position of ‘I don’t know how I am going to get there’ but we have to do our part by planting the seeds and there are times when we can’t always be the person to water them or give them sunshine, there is something else that comes in and does that,” she poetically explains. “I believe that God has done that for me, he has opened up doors that are unexplainable, I know it’s God, I’m just here for the ride.”
Her most recent single, “Vegas” was written with Kelly Archer and Nathan Spicer and they looked to emulate the feel-good, light-hearted feelings that the city of Las Vegas can bring out in people. “When I was dating Ricky, I remember feeling like I wanted to run off and marry him, so we wanted to give that feeling of like, getting on a plane and going to the place that has tested the time of running away and getting married.”
The video, shot in one day and of course, in the city of lights, perfectly sums up that sentiment of being carefree and getting married in Vegas. “We shot at this chapel in vegas, the most famous wedding chapel and it was packed, around the clock people getting married from all over the world,” LJ tells us of the experience”. “Couples that are so in love, it was so neat to see that. There is a lot of love here. When you are in love and you want to get married, it doesn’t matter where you get married.” She and her husband even renewed their vows while they were there shooting, a moment that will always be a fond memory for them. Fans of the video can head to CMT and vote for “Vegas”
Looking ahead to the end of 2019 and into the new year, LJ is playing a few rounds at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, a place she loves to play because it is so iconic for songwriters. She looks ahead to 2020 and releasing even more new music, working with Red Creative Group, her publisher.
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