Thursday, June 14

Center Stage - Jillian Jones

Meet Jillian Jones - A recording artist and worship leader in North Mankato, MN where she resides with her husband and two kids. 
She released her first EP entitled, "He Is Everything" in September of 2016.   
As a pianist, singer and songwriter, Jillian brings a breadth of expertise to the contemporary Christian genre.
Her background spans a wide range of vocal techniques, instrumentation and musical styles, including pop, Latin jazz, classical and worship. From gentle acoustics to a fresh sound, Jones’ songs demonstrate
a variety of styles and the powerhouse vocals for which she is known. When Jillian isn't making music, she enjoys photography, woodworking and spending time with her family on the shores of Lake Superior.

Get to know Jillian, what inspires her, and what she's got cooking for her career in music in our latest Q&A feature:

Can you describe your sound in one ramble-on sentence?  
Hmmm...I think the foundation of my music is acoustic instrumentation,  interesting melodies, and thoughtful lyric decorated with some pop/electronic flair and maybe even a tiny glimpse of jazz influence here and there. 

What's your earliest music-related memory growing up? 
I have a few distinct musical memories from when I was about 3 or 4 years old. 1) Singing silly songs with my mom in a boat on a lake in northern Minnesota while my dad fished. 2) Sitting at the family piano, trying to figure out how to play the piano line from "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx  3) Taking my afternoon nap in front of our record player speakers while listening to Whitney Houston's first album. 

If you were to cover another band/artist's album, which would you pick and why? 
Oh, there are so many!!! If I had to pick one.....probably "Little Voice" by Sara Bareilles. Her songwriting is simply incredible, from lyric to melody, and I just adore all the fun piano stuff she does. 

Do you write/compose your own songs? Briefly describe your songwriting process 
Yes, I do! I also do a lot of co-writing, which has been a wonderful opportunity to learn how other writers write. Personally, I like to pick a theme first, find an interesting title or approach, and then spend a lot of time thinking on it and observing it in the world around me. Next, I like to develop a musical hook to work from. Then I write whatever comes out so I have plenty of material to shape and refine into in actual song. Sometimes that part comes easily, sometimes it's such a struggle! 

What was the highlight for you in 2017? Either personally or for your music career? 
Well, my baby went to kindergarten, which was a pretty big and bittersweet event around here. Musically, the highlight was launching a fundraiser for new music and being absolutely humbled by the support and encouragement I received. 

What have you been working on recently? Can you give us a hint for whats to come in 2018? 
Yes!! I'm currently working on my first full-length album!! We're planning to release the first single this summer, and release the record this fall. This project has stretched me as an artist in so many ways - I've been  blessed to collaborate with some incredibly talented musicians and writers, and I'm so excited to share our work with you all! 

What do you like more: Performing live or recording in the studio? 
My favorite is a common aspect of both of those things - it's the people and relationships. When it comes to performing live, I really love small, intimate settings that allow me to share the stories behind the songs. The stories remind us that we all have similar joys and sorrows, and they help us build relationship and community. In the studio, my absolute favorite thing is collaboration with other musicians. I get so excited to bring the songs, but then open my hands and watch everyone there influence and infuse the music with their own unique talents and ideas. I love listening to the final version of a song and being able to pick out different pieces that represent a person who helped create it. 

What are some artists/bands that you're into at the moment? Or any particular song you find yourself listening to over and over? 
I'm still over the moon about The Greatest Showman soundtrack and probably will be for awhile. A go-to album for me is "Floodplain" by Sara Groves, fellow Minnesotan. I'm also listening to Andy Gullahorn - amazing singer/songwriter - and trying to learn from his unique writing style. He was recommended to me by another one of my favorite singer/songwriters - Jason Gray - who happens to also be from my little corner of Minnesota. I'm also anxiously awaiting a new release from Sara Bareilles one of these days. 
Any embarrassing on stage moments you'd like to share? C’mon, don’t be shy. A few years ago, I was leading worship at our church. Most of the time, I lead while also playing a grand piano. During the last big chorus of the closing song, the stool I was sitting on started to fold up underneath me. By an act of God, I managed to catch myself on one foot, (the other was on the pedal), keep singing/playing right through it, and finish the song standing on that one foot while the stool crashed to the floor behind me. Steve Green, a Christian music legend, was also singing at our church that day. His piano player saw what was happening, and jumped up quickly to run on stage and try to get the stool back in place. It was embarrassing, but it could have been so much worse! 

What's one thing people should know about you? 
7 years ago, I had no idea I'd be doing this artist thing today. I hit a low point in my life, but with God's help, I re-discovered who I was through that season and decided to chase my passion and pour myself into my unique purpose. If there's something you've always felt you were created to do - just go for it. Dive in, trust God with the process and be open to what He might have for you there. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of music? Does your hobby rejuvenate your creativity? 
Absolutely - I need a break from music once in awhile to get newly inspired. I love to go to thrift stores and find things to refurbish. I also love woodworking and building random furniture for my house. I enjoy photography, reading and cooking if my kitchen is really clean. My family and I love to spend time in Duluth, MN, taking in nature and watching ships come in off Lake Superior. That place inspires me so much and my dream is to have a summer home there someday.

What do you like the most about Radio Airplay? 
I love discovering new music here! And I love that Radio Airplay supports, encourages and values music from independent musicians. Thank you for giving us opportunities to share our music with the world.