Jenn Bostic’s new music video is inspired by her struggles in the music industry
A star is not born with the help of a famous man or a record label, but rather faith. Almost like a real life version of “Rock of Ages,” up-and-coming country gospel singer, Jenn Bostic, knows what it’s like to nearly give up on her dream.
Fiercely independent, feisty, and completely unapologetic about her past struggles with the music industry, Bostic possesses the no BS authenticity that isn’t peddled by publicists and label heads. Never too old to be a pop star, her refreshing approach to music stardom earned her an unexpected fanbase outside of Nashville. And also, who can’t forget about that raspy Sheryl Crow-esque voice?
We chat about “Faint of Heart” (exclusively premiered for us), abuse in the music industry, and why it’s never OK to rush into marriage too quickly.
“Faint of Heart” draws upon the struggles of ageism, having to hold back your marriage, career conflicts, and dealing with label bosses who try to force you into a box. What made you want to write about your struggles as an independent artist?
I write what I know. As an artist, it is my hope that the songs I bring into this world will encourage people and empower them to believe they can overcome the obstacles they are facing. In order to do that, I have to be honest and vulnerable. I have been an entrepreneur and an independent artist for the last decade, and it’s an industry, like many others, that needs to look professional on social media and sound like something amazing is happening all the time.
I guess I figured that if I was struggling with some of these very real questions, I couldn’t be the only one. The day I wrote “Faint of Heart,” I sat at the piano for eight hours and convinced myself that every idea I was coming up with was terrible. Finally, I locked the studio door and decided that I wasn’t leaving until I had written a song.
“Faint of Heart” came tearfully rushing out of me. I’m not sure I had even started processing some of these feelings until after the song was written. Music has always been my therapy and by sharing my own challenges with the world, the music has somehow given people permission to open up about their own.
As a woman, I absolutely feel your struggle as we constantly question our pursuit for ambition. Were there any specific moments that almost made you quit?
Disappointment has brought me close to throwing in the towel more times than I care to admit. I have a habit of getting my hopes up, and sometimes things don’t work out the way I picture them. When you’re chasing a dream, it’s so easy to put the weight of the world on an opportunity, and when it doesn’t happen, it can feel like the end of the world.
I have gotten better at removing some drama from this internal struggle, because at the end of the day, I believe chasing this dream is my purpose. Thankfully, each of these experiences makes me a little stronger and humbles my heart for the better.
Although the music industry celebrates female empowerment, it continues to hold women back, as most of them can’t break their contract from the label, speak up against abuse, and/or worry about not being able to get work. How do you feel about this and how do you plan on improving the situation?
I have never been signed to a record label, and although it has been a dream of mine, hearing stories of abuse and contracts that won’t break have made me really sad for those involved. It has also made me incredibly grateful to have remained independent all these years.
With all the resources at our fingertips nowadays, I think it’s empowering for women, or any artist for that matter, to know that they don’t need those relationships to make a living playing music. I have had the opportunity to mentor a few young artists who have reached out on social media over the years, and I will continue to encourage them to understand that they are capable of doing so much on their own.
Given that you experienced a handful of challenges, how were you able to overcome them?
Challenges are going to come, but I believe it is what we do with those challenges that make us who we are. Faith plays a very important role in my life and trusting in God’s plan for my life has given me the strength and the hope to overcome even some the most difficult struggles.
What’s surprising is that you got a handful of attention in UK and Ireland compared to Nashville. When did you realize that you had a fanbase in these countries? Was it something you anticipated?
About six years ago, my song, “Jealous of the Angels,” co-written with Jimmy Fortune and Zach Runquist, in memory of my late father, was played on a radio station called Smooth Radio in the UK. A fan had found the song on YouTube and sent it to the station without my knowledge. I found out on Twitter, and soon after, received a message from the station as it became one of the top requested songs that week.
Shortly after, the song was playlisted on BBC Radio 2, the most listened to radio station in Europe. I performed the song on BBC Breakfast, and it went #1 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart. I have been performing in the UK a few times each year ever since, and this past year I was named “International Touring Artist of the Year” at the British Country Music Awards. It was an incredible unexpected blessing and I feel blessed to get to travel overseas to play my music.
Compared to most country singers, you incorporate your gospel roots. Why does gospel inspire you? How do you manage to maintain your faith in an extremely secular industry?
I grew up singing in church and I wouldn’t have an ounce of talent if God hadn’t given it to me. Bringing hope, peace, love and joy into this world through the music I create is why I believe I am on this earth. I’ll admit that there has been some pushback from both the industry and fans, but the positive conversations far outweigh the negative. God continues to open new doors around the world and being open about my faith hasn’t ever been a challenge for me.
Since you mentioned that you’re married in “Faint of Heart,” what are your secrets to keeping your marriage alive?
My husband is an amazing man. We have very different passions, but we take an interest in what is important to the other and encourage one another daily. We don’t hold each other back from opportunities or experiences, and we have learned to be open in our communication and expectations. I believe it is important to love your spouse for who they are and not try to change them into someone they are not.
Our generation doesn’t prioritize marriage compared to our parents’ generation, but we still have the desire to settle down. What is your advice for anyone who feels scared to commit and/or want to rush into marriage?
Forever is a long timem and I wouldn’t advise anyone to rush into marriage. However, for those who might feel scared to commit, my advice would be to understand that marriage does take work. However, if both people are willing to work on the marriage in the best and worst of times, you have a partner for life. I had it in my head that I wouldn’t be married until I was 35.
I haven’t reached that age yet and I’ve been married for seven years. While it wasn’t in my initial plan to have a husband in my twenties, I can’t imagine those years of life without him in it. He challenges me, loves me unconditionally, and makes me better.
You’ve got an upcoming UK tour and it looks super exciting! Which tourist landmarks do you want to take your husband to and what do you want to add in your tour rider when you go there?
Thanks so much! I just finished a three week tour of the UK and I am back over here for a festival now. A few years ago, my husband and I ran the London marathon together and saw most of the sights in London during the run.
We also visited Paris and Belfast during that time, which are two places I was dying to take him. I’m really grateful for the time we do get together and the opportunity to share the cities and friends I’ve made with him across the pond.
Check out the exclusive video release below!
Photos by Sara Kauss