As a new blogger, I have to hustle for content, work for free, and pay my dues. So you might understand my confusion when I received a late night DM saying, “Rising country music star Jenna Paulette is in town at White Stallion Ranch writing songs for her upcoming tour. Would you like to come meet her and hear her acoustic set tomorrow night?”
Instantly, my inner-dork went into overdrive. Was this message was meant for someone else? Does somebody famous share my name? Has someone mistaken me for an actual influencer?
I had to Google myself. (As it turns out, there’s no cooler version of me.) Then I Googled Jenna Paulette and realized that, right or wrong, this was not an invitation I could turn down.
Jenna has been included on Apple Music’s Breaking Country Playlist, Google Play’s Country’s New Crop Playlist, and she’s been named a CMT Discovery Artist. She’s getting lots of airplay on Radio Disney and has well over 350,000 streams on Spotify. (See details in her biography.) Even without all that, her music videos Wild Like the West, F-150 and Coolest Girl in the World left me with no doubt that this woman is destined for great things.
So the next night I found myself driving out to White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, praying I could conjure up that cooler version of me.
White Stallion Ranch, a traditional dude ranch blended with fine resort amenities, is the perfect getaway for a rising country star to lay low and focus on creativity. Its main living room, furnished in a comfortable blend of Western-rustic Americana, was dotted with curious ranch guests.
Almost unnoticed, Jenna Paulette slipped into the room with what turned out to be three of today’s very finest music writers: Mark Trussel, Jordon Minton, and Jordon Reynolds. After brief introductions, they took their places on wrought iron and leather bar stools. Over the course of the evening, they showed me why we all need Jenna Paulette’s music on our playlists RIGHT NOW.
1) Jenna is the real deal.
Jenna grew up on the outskirts of Dallas and worked long, hard hours on her family’s ranch. It’s hard to imagine this classical beauty hauling bales of hay and branding cattle. That is, until you hear her sing. Her low-glam, real-life cowgirl upbringing has provided shape and texture to her art. When Jenna sings, her whole body sings with her. Her shoulders sway and her hands float, punctuating every syllable in every lyric. She feels country music because she’s lived it
2) Jenna brings a fresh new direction to country music.
Her “New West” style blends contemporary pop rhythms with country-western lyrical influences and a pedal steel-rooted sensibility. She cites broad influences from George Straight and the Dixie Chicks to Kanye West and Beyoncé.
3) Jenna has that singer-songwriter magic.
In her song The Coolest Girl in the World, she shares a sweet, giddy moment in the life of an everyday girl who receives a mix CD from a boy she loves. The relatability of her lyrics strike at your heart, and you just can’t help but smile. You’ve been there. You know how it feels. Jenna just writes it better.
4) Jenna values both creativity and education.
Raw talent and determination could have taken her far, but Jenna also earned her Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication from the prestigious Savannah College of Art & Design. As a result, Jenna has the skills to package and market herself in the highly competitive music industry, and the entrepreneurial skills to plot her own career trajectory.
5) Jenna is all about empowerment.
While she’s making her own dreams come true, Jenna works with Step Up Women’s Network, an L.A.-based organization that “propels girls from under-resourced communities to fulfill their potential by empowering them to become confident, college-bound, career-focused, and ready to join the next generation of professional women.” It seems Jenna wants to help make other girls’ dreams come true, too.
The acoustic set at White Stallion Ranch included Jenna’s own songs such as Wild Like the West and F-150 (linked above), but she also provided back-up for her co-writers who sang hit songs on which they had collaborated such as Tequila & Speechless from Dan + Shay (both co-written with Jordon Reynolds), Steal My Thunder from Keith Urban (co-written with Jordan Minton) and Details from Billy Currington (co-written and produced by Mark Trussel.)
While singers often don’t sound as polished live as they do in studio recordings, I was astounded by the talent and skill of each artist. Jenna’s performance, in particular, was pitch-perfect and thoroughly entertaining.
After the set, as we chatted in the bar, I discovered that Jenna is kind, polite, unassuming, and a good listener. She seemed genuinely happy to talk about her past.
“I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t singing. When I was still a baby and my mother would sing me lullabies, the family noticed I’d be singing right along with her, and on key.” Jenna started performing a bit while still in high school. Then, after college, she added songwriting to her list of talents. Now thirty, Jenna confided that she’s considered old by country music standards, but quickly added that her years of experience are perhaps the reason others have found her lyrics have depth and emotional resonance.
While music is clearly her great love, Jenna also appreciates the artistry behind fashion. Her style, perfectly on-brand, is a charming combination of the old and “new west” she loves. She brightens when I noticed that the “coolest girl in the world” is wearing the coolest jeans in the world: A pair of men’s classic cowboy-cut Wranglers with custom distressing in the shape of a man’s wallet, a dip can, and a pocket knife. “Just like all the guys back at the ranch!”
When I ask her what her future holds, besides becoming a country music legend, Jenna’s smile widens and her eyes sparkle with enthusiasm, “Oh, just wait! There’s so much to do!”
Jenna Paulette’s tour begins this month in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. You can read more about Jenna Paulette at http://www.jennapaulette.com .