She has the swagger of a modern-day Shania Twain, with the vocal power of a young Christina Aguilera. You may recognize her from Season 14 of NBC’s The Voice (Team Blake), where singer, songwriter, and national recording artist, JessLee showed the world what it meant to take you to church!
In an exclusive interview with Grit Daily, JessLee spoke in-depth about how she got her start and about her upcoming release.
Just one week away until the release of her newest single, “Over Him,” the recording artist has been busy at work. For the Voice recording artist, the new single, produced by 2x Grammy-Nominated producer, Brad Hill, is a complete rebranding.
“Branding” is a very powerful term with a lot of layers behind it. As for JessLee, I wanted to peel back those layers and get a better understanding as to why she is extremely passionate about spreading strength in not just her music, but in her own trademarked, copywritten education program, STRONG.
Through her music, the young artist holds two principles dear and close to heart—self-love and being real with herself. Taking those two pillars, JessLee founded her non-profit, Music & Muscles, spreading her personal experiences by sharing her S.T.R.O.N.G. message to young people.
The trademarked and copywritten program is the missing piece to explaining the horrendous massacres that have taken place at dozens of schools these past few years.
“There’s a lot of stuff we touch on, she told me, “but primarily, although I think bullying is important, there are so many sub-categories people can go in and talk with young people about. I truthfully believe my program is unique in that it doesn’t just touch on just one subject, but rather, goes to the core of what I think the problem is—a lack of love. I think if someone is in love with who they are and the life they are living, they won’t feel the need to shoot up a school, or bully someone, or say something negatively about someone. Because they are too busy loving who they are. It comes down to talking to students about being able to invest in themselves and learn how to invest in their life, and learn that when someone says something about them, it has to do with that person and their insecurities. It teaches you to have the strength to not be the person to do those negative things to others. Taking that energy and investing it into being a bigger and stronger person.”
But, with both entrepreneurship and music in her blood, JessLee shared with me, that at the time she began her music career, she never thought she would be doing what she is doing now. “When I was a young girl, although I loved music and loved singing and writing, I never…had the confidence for it; I was very overweight. I would see stars like Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears and could never picture myself with that kind of image.
Andrew Rossow: Why do you think you felt that way?
JessLee: I just didn’t think I was talented enough. Even though I loved it, I wasn’t able to go after anything I wanted in that respect, because I didn’t believe in who I was and what I was capable of doing at the time.
AR: What can you tell us about your upbringing and family during this process?
JL: There has always been a huge amount of support. My mom has always been the woman who wanted me to do whatever it is I wanted to do. I think somewhere in her minds he always wanted me to do music. She wasn’t the person who would force me to do anything. There has always been support, and it’s obvious too, because my sister who attends the most prestigious school in Boston for music, and my mom has been by her side through the entire process.
She also shared with me the struggle of growing up with an extremely abusive father, who passed away during her time on The Voice.
“…He was a drug user and an alcoholic, and was very abusive. My parents divorced when I was twelve years old, where my mom was finally able to get out of that lifestyle—it became the girls against the world at that point.”
But having a lack of paternal support didn’t stop her from pushing forward and doing what she came to do.
“It’s a terrible thing, but it’s one of the biggest reasons I started the program. I wanted to be one of the few people who had hard lives, and make something of themselves. You go through your shit and you get back up again. You always have a choice. Do you let it consume you and overpower you, or do you keep going and let it empower you and allow you to become something bigger and better? I didn’t want to be anything like my dad, and had zero desire to let it overcome me in a negative way. I wanted to use it as fuel to push me that much harder to be better. It was one of the reasons I felt so worthless when I was younger—he was a bully. He told me I would be nothing and would never succeed in what I wanted to do, and it was a big push for me.”
GD: From that moment during the show, how did you transition from such an emotional time to moving on from The Voice?
JL: It’s kind of a blur, because it takes up a lot of your life. I was gone for months out there for filming. At age twelve when my parents were fully divorced, I went from being abused to fully estranged. Later down the road, I felt it necessary to have forgiveness, which was healthy for the soul. I made a push to let him know I forgave him for the things he did, but did not want to keep a relationship with him. When I found out he passed, it’s hard to say, because I didn’t have a relationship with him. I felt saddened because of the situation, and was definitely upset about it. At the same time, however, it was a part of life and you just have to keep going. I have a gift that I was given and there’s a lot more I want to do with my platform then just music. So, when I heard that he passed while I was on The Voice, I remained focused and pushed through.