Barbara J's story is one of a singer finally singing her songs, or, more specifically, singing the songs of artists whose music inspired her and become part of the soundtrack of her life. A singer all her life, from choirs, to weddings, to musical theater, to bands, Barbara finally decided to record her first LP, covering the songs of Canadian folk/pop artist, Gordon Lightfoot. “Sundown – A Gordon Lightfoot Retrospective© (2014)” was produced by Jim Reilley, an incredibly gifted songwriter and guitarist in his own right, and cofounder of The New Dylans, a folk rock band whose work has been recognized by Rolling Stone, Village Voice, and The Tennessean. Recorded at Eastwood Studios, in Nashville, TN, with the help of some of Music City’s finest musicians, the album saw good success via cd sales, downloads, and lots of internet radio airplay, with singles airing in rotation alongside artists from Joan Baez, to Simon & Garfunkel, Karen Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, and Linda Ronstadt, along with other artists in various genres. The first single released off the album, “All the Lovely Ladies" was awarded the “Best Song—Folk” Award from the Akademia Music Awards. Other tracks were featured on various podcasts with Women of Substance Radio. Two releases are currently charting nationally, and worldwide, on NumberOneMusic.com.
What is your earliest memory of music? And, how did you get started in music?
My earliest memory of song was probably of my mother singing to us as children. There was always music in our home, via records (back in the days of vinyl!), radio, my older sister singing in a band. My own start in music came by way of choir, folk group (I am a guitar player as well as a singer), musical theater, then eventually, bands (local, art festival type groups and gigs).
After my husband and I moved west from Pennsylvania to Las Vegas in 2003, we discovered karaoke, and were regulars at what was then the Karaoke Bar (dubbed the Piano Bar, the last time we were in Sin CIty!), singing our hearts out. I guess it was then that a cover singer was born in Barbara J.!
I was inspired to record my first album after seeing Canadian music legend, Gordon Lightfoot, interviewed on a Sunday morning news program several years back. I looked at my husband and said, "I am going to sing his songs for my first album." I made a phone call to a contact in Nashville the next day, started saving my money and finally cut that first album in 2014!!
What was the first song you ever wrote? What or who inspired you to start writing music?
The first song I wrote is called "Sad Song." It is just that! It's a sad song I wrote that was inspired by some changes that had happened in my life about which I was not very happy! Those changes involved changing schools, from junior to senior high school, but they were dramatic changes for me...it seemed to me that, during that time, when I was feeling so sad already, all I heard on the radio were sad songs!! So, I wrote my song about those songs, and called it "Sad Song..." even got a copyright on it! It marked a significant change in my life.
Do you play any instruments? If yes tell us about it. If not, do you work with a band or studio musicians? Do you produce your tracks or work with a producer?
I play the acoustic guitar, but I did not play any instruments on either of my album. I enlisted the talents of studio musicians and never cease to be amazed at all the talent that is out there! As far as bands, the first band I sang in was called "The Dog Has Wheels..." yes, there is a story behind that, LOL.
What is your favorite part about being an artist (performing, recording, writing, playing)?
I love singing...singing in my car, singing on a stage, singing in the studio, singing in my living room. There is so much joy inside me when I sing. It is the ultimate form of expression for me.
Do you have any advice for young women pursuing music?
My advice would be that it is never too late to start living your dream and becoming a singer! Keep doing what you love to do, pursue various avenues--sing when you can sing! You never know who needs to hear your voice, and you never know who may be listening!
For readers who have never heard your music, can you suggest one or two songs to start with?
Other than my one original tune, all of my songs are cover songs. Check out https://barbaraj.hearnow.com for songs from my second album, "A Box Full of Records," and while you are there, click on the Spotify link for a link to my Spotify Verified Artist page, that includes tracks from my first album, "Sundown: A Gordon Lightfoot Retrospective." When you get there, check out "All the Lovely Ladies," the first release off of that album. While that was not one of Gordon Lightfoot's hits here in the states, it is a lovely tune, and my cover of it one best song in its genres from the Akademia Music Award! I had the great benefit of being accompanied by the great Jake Clayton, an instrumentalist like no other, who played seven or eight instruments on this album, including the violin on which he accompanied me on this track. His talent really added to that track. It wound up being one of my favorite songs on the album!
What do you think your strengths are, as an artist? Perseverance, stick-to-it-iveness...believing I could do it, even though I did not record my first album until I was in my late 40s!! Singing from my heart and soul is something I do every time I use my "instrument."
Where can fans access your music?