We caught up with musician Jennifer Alvarado following her superb release, ‘Songbird: Part One’. Enjoy the full interview below!
Hi Jennifer, tell us about yourself?
I started making up little songs and singing around the age of 4. From there, I got involved in choir and church and school. My grandfather played multiple instruments, so he was always playing when I was at his house. He was the one who first taught me guitar chords. I have always gravitated toward music. I knew I wanted to be a singer around age 4 or 5.
In middle and high school, I became even more determined to make music. I headed up a couple of ensembles at church and started serving as a worship leader. That is really where I got my start with music.
After several years of working as a Worship Director or Creative Director for different churches, I took a break from ministry to work for a non-profit that focuses on women in recovery and experiencing homelessness. I was there for about a year and a half and decided I wanted to return to ministry as a Music Minister and pursue my music on a more full-time basis.
I released my first album, ‘Hello Life’, in 2015. It was contemporary Christian. In 2020, while I was furloughed from my job, I decided to start releasing my Country Pop material. I released several singles during 2020 and then my first Country EP, ‘Playing with Fire’ in April 2021.
I am currently working on a project titled ‘Songbird’ that is more Country Pop in style. I am releasing it in two parts. The first part was released in July. The second part will be out in late Fall. The project tells the story of a narcissistically toxic situation I went through several years ago.
I was named ‘One to Watch’ by Nashville Songwriters Association in Spring 2021 and Spring 2022. I was named the ‘2021 Country Artist of the Year’ by Indie Star Radio. My song ‘Curious’ was a Finalist for ‘Best Pop Song’ for the Winter 2022 World Songwriting Awards and won ‘Best Pop Song’ for the Indie Songwriting Awards in Winter 2022.
My latest single, ‘Rock This Way,’ was just named ‘Best Pop Song’ and ‘Best Overall Song’ by the Indie Songwriting Awards in Spring 2022. In 2022, I was nominated for five International Singer Songwriter Association Awards, including ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’, a Josie Award for Female Music Video of the Year for ‘Filthy Water’, and a Carolina Music Award for Country Female Vocalist of the Year.
What is your songwriting process?
I usually begin with a melody or hook. I then build the song around that idea.
Tell us about your latest release, ‘Songbird: Part One’?
This project was very different from my earlier releases. I had been through a rough couple of years with ministry and music. There were a lot of burned bridges and disappointments. This project feels much more vulnerable and cathartic than my earlier projects. My writing style is much more honest and blunt.
‘Songbird: Part One’ was produced by Ricky Rodriguez of Bombhouse Recordings; what was that process like?
I’ve been working with Ricky since 2015, but even the time in the studio and our recording process was different this time. I let go of a lot of the limits I placed on myself while recording earlier releases. Some of these songs don’t fall completely into one specific genre because, truthfully, I don’t fit in one genre.
I tried to mould myself into what a ‘Contemporary Christian’ or ‘Country’ artist should sound like with my previous releases and unknowingly placed limits on the stories I was trying to tell. I wanted to get away from that this time.
What’s the music scene like in Vale, post covid?
I mean, to be honest, Vale doesn’t really have a music scene. We have a post office and are at least 20 minutes from any type of larger city. It is starting to open back up, which is wonderful.
You were named ‘2021 Country Artist of the Year’ by Indie Star Radio – what draws you to the Country genre?
I spent a lot of time with my grandparents when I was growing up. Country music is what my grandmother loved, and we would listen to it together. My fondest memories are singing with her and watching music videos when I should have been working on homework. For me, Country music feels like home.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
I hope it conveys that you can be honest and vulnerable about your hardships, the past, and any hurts. I fell in love with music because I was the shy kid that found comfort in the songs I listened to. I hope someone else can listen to my music and feel like they at least have one person that ‘gets them’ and is in their corner.
Who are your musical influences?
Everything. But my biggest influences are Reba McEntire, The Eagles, Tom Petty, Taylor Swift and Patty Griffin.
Who are your non-musical influences?
I love old Hollywood, especially Audrey Hepburn. I also really look up to both my grandmothers. I spent a lot of time with both of them when I was growing up. My Nanny Duncan and I shared a birthday, and she is the reason I love Country music. My Nanny Miller was the one that took me to church and taught me to cook and bake.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
I think finding and keeping your unique voice is the biggest challenge. Society tells you what is popular and what works, and many times as a creative, you are tempted to mould yourself into an industry standard and thus, give up on your individual voice. It may take longer, but original and real will always be what wins out in the end.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
Keep going. You are going to feel like giving up, but if you are truly passionate about music, then you need to press on. Trials and challenges can help make us stronger and also help us to better define our purpose.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
Honestly, my biggest hope is that I keep growing. I want to be a better artist, songwriter, and overall human being. I think life is about continuous growth. You should never stop learning. My hope is to have the chance to keep doing music and opportunities to experience new levels of this industry.
FVMusicBlog August 2022