Me: Jennifer, first of, I am sorry to hear about your mom passing away when you were 13. My parents both passed away from cancer in 2000 so I know in a way how you must of felt. Did your song writing change after that happened? Were you writing before that?
Jennifer: So sorry to hear about your parents as well....I can't imagine both in the same year...it's heartbreaking. I feel like losing a parent puts you in a club with others that have experienced the same thing.....a club that you never want to be a part of but once you're in, only those in it can truly know what it's like. Losing my Mom was the hardest thing I have ever been through. It's crazy how it changes your perspective on life....even for a 13 year old. I actually didn't write much before that. I only started writing a couple of years ago. I took classes in college on writing and everything and the writing thing never clicked. And then a couple of years ago, out of no where, I began to write...ideas would come in like a flood. I haven't stopped since. Losing my Mom definately impacts my writing. There are some songs on the upcoming album that talk about losing someone you love and the pain that you experience from that. Learning how to keep on living in spite of the pain....it's hard but that has definately played a part in my writing.
Me: You're from Enterprise, a small town in Alabama but now live in Washington State. That's a whole different feel. What made you move out West?
Jennifer: Enterprise, AL and Washington state are like 2 different worlds! It's crazy! I love both places. I love that my early growing up years were in the south. Eventhough it's been many years since I've lived down south, deep down, I'm a southern girl. My family moved because of my Dad's job. He's a preacher....yep that means I'm a preachers kid! He took a job as the pastor at a church in Washington. I left Washington state and went to college in Missouri and even though Missouri isn't south, it felt like it compared to Washington. But, after getting married and having a baby, I wanted to be near my Dad, sister, and step-family. So, we moved back to WA. It's a great place to live if you can handle the rain!
Me: You released a gospel album when you were a child. Your parents must of been proud of you. Do you ever listen to that album you made then?
Jennifer: It's been a while since I've listened to that! I should get it out for old times sake...lol. It was a good experience for me. My Dad wrote all the songs on it. Thinking back to that time brings back good memories. My Mom always played piano for me wherever and whenever I would sing. I have pictures of me singing at different events with me on stage in big pageant, frilly dresses, with my Mom playing piano....good times.
Me: You and your husband Ryan have started something cool... Keyed Up Records. Explain to the readers of the Phile what Keyed Up Records is and what you are planning to do with it.
Jennifer: Keyed Up Records is a record label and production company. Our goal has been to create a company that focuses on protecting the rights of the artist AND consumer. We really want to make it so that our artists have a greater share in the profits of their own careers and that fans of their music feel like they are partners in the artists career. We plan on continuing to grow the company and add more artists to the roster. We also started Keyed Up Publishing...a music publishing company.
Me: How long have you been married, and do you have a family of your own?
Jennifer: I have been married 10 years! I sound old don't I? lol. I got married at 19 so I'll let you do the math...lol. My husband is amazing. I didn't plan on getting married so young, but when I met him, I knew right away he was the one. He was even my first boyfriend. I have 3 little boys who are amazing...they do wear me out! But I love it. My seven year old is an amazing electric guitar player and an awesome songwriter....I think he's even one of the youngest members of ASCAP. My 4 year old plays the drums like you wouldn't believe...he's prodigy good. And my 3 year old loves to sing and play anything. People ask if I'm trying to have my own basketball team, I tell them no, I'm working on a band.
Me: Right now you are working on finishing your debut album on your label... is it going to be a straight up country album or have a pop influence i.e. Shania Twain and Faith Hill?
Jennifer: The album will have a pop influence, gospel influence, and rock influence. Stylistically it has a sound/style all of it's own. I can't wait for it to be released!
Me: What's the title and when is it due to come out?
Jennifer: We don't have a title yet...and we're hoping to have it out Spring 2009.
Me: Are you going on tour to promote the album? If so, planning any stops in Florida?
Jennifer: That's the plan.....I don't have any venues nailed down yet...I let the promotions people work on that...they will just tell me when and where to show up...lol. I am doing my best to plan some stops in Florida...trying to squeeze in a vacation. I need some sun! Florida is my favorite vacation spot.
Me: Any plans on putting your album on iTunes?
Me: I am glad you and your sister are close and started your own venture with her selling organic lotions. As a guy I have no idea what that is, even though my wife could fill me in. What are the organic lotions for, what made you get into that business and if I wanted to buy some for my wife where would I order them from?
Jennifer: Well....I could talk a long time on this subject alone! :) Our lotions have no harmful chemicals, dyes, or preservatives. Here's how it started: I was having some photos taken of me for my music stuff and was going to be on tv....when I saw myself, I looked pasty white...sickly. So, I thought I would try to get an airbrush tan...since all I do in the sun is burn and freckle...too much info huh?..lol. So, I did and I got addicted. I told my sister she should start a business doing it so that I could be tan for free! So, in talking her into this, she talked me into partnering with her. When we started investigating the ingredients we were shocked at what kinds of things are in cosmetics, lotions, etc. So, we decided that we had to create our own. You could literally eat our stuff, it's so healthy...although it would probably taste gross. In some ways ignorance is bliss...now that I know what I know I can't just go into a store and buy what's on the shelf. Since the business is fairly new, we are currently working on a website. For now, people will have to check out our Myspace (http://www. myspace. com/keyeduptanning). That is mainly our airbrush tanning site but there is info there on our organic products too and contact info on how to purchase. We have independent consultants that sell these products and are trained to give airbrush tans as well. It's been a fun business....like a hobby.
Me: I read you don't like chocolate. Are you kidding?
Jennifer: I know! I wish I did. People act like it tastes heavenly...it makes me jealous. I wish I could enjoy it! I just can't stand the taste of chocolate....most sweets for that matter. I do love salty, greasy food though. Chips and dip is one of my favorites.
Me: Okay, if you could do a duet with anybody, who would that be? And why?
Jennifer: Oh my word! This is the toughest question by far. There are sooo many..how do I narrow it down? Well...if I could choose living or dead...Ray Charles would be on the list for sure. He was amazing. I respect him as a musician....so much talent in one man! Michael Buble would be fun to sing with because he's a great live performer. Keith Urban would be great...he is a great singer, songwriter, guitarist, etc. Then there are people like Reba and Dolly Parton that I just thing would be fun to sing with. Sorry, I know that's more than one.
Me: Your first single is a beautiful song called "Happily Ever After". What is the story behind that song?
Jennifer: Well, I as a little girl, I always loved the Cinderella story and dreamt of my fairytale ending. I know little girls and grown up girls of every age still have the dream of, and still believe in "happily ever after," deep down inside. So, in writing the song, I wanted to capture that feeling. I was feeling inspired one night and sat down to write and the song just flowed out...it was like the song was already written and I was just writing it down as it played in my head. So many girls settle because they get impatient and don't hold on for their "happily ever after" to play itself out. Maybe it's because they don't believe they deserve to have a happily ever after or they have been told it doesn't exist, I'm not sure. Eventhough it takes patience sometimes to wait for happily ever after, it's so worth it. I remember being in my dorm room at college wondering if my prince charming existed. I had a huge list of qualifications he must meet and my roommates were giving me a hard time about it, saying they weren't even sure God himself would meet my criteria....lol. But, just like the song says, I wasn't gonna settle for anything less. When I finally met "him" my happily ever after began.....now I'm living it.
So, the girl in the song is me... it's every woman and I'm even convinced that deep down guys have the dream of happily ever after too. It's one of my favorite songs.
Me: You're so busy with the businesses, recording your album, promoting your single, do you have any free time? If so, what do you do on your free time?
Jennifer: Free time...what's that?? Actually I love staying busy. I don't get a lot of free time because I also homeschool my kids. It's important to me that my family be a part of this whole process and homeschooling makes that possible. So, if Mom has to travel somewhere...the husband and kids come too. One of my son's really lucked out...I had to be in Los Angeles for something and it happened to fall on his b-day..so we spent his b-day at Disneyland....good memories. I do love to crash in front of a good movie after the kids are in bed. I love to shop (I'm totally a bargain hunter). I love being around people I love. It's more about the "who" than the "what." I love to have friends and family over and stay up late playing games...and then it turns into a slumber party because everyone is too tired to get up and drive home.....that's a blast. I love to play my guitar and write songs...I do that when I have a chance.
Me: Here's a question I ask all my interviewees... What is your favorite Foghat song?
Jennifer: I bet everyone says "Slow Ride" huh? With it being on Guitar Hero, it's getting even more popular. I do like "Slow Ride" but I also like "Stone Blue"..I like the groove. I also like "I'm a Rock n' Roller"...you can't sit still when you hear that...it makes you wanna get up and dance. "Chattaeu Laffitte Boogie" is good...I like the oldies influence. There are many good ones I could list. Sorry..I couldn't keep it to one...I'm not good at picking one of anything. I do not like making decisions and thus, eliminating my options....those who know me would be laughing at me right now because they know this to be so true. So, the question is, what's your favorite Foghat song? I'm curious since your Dad was in the band which one is yours!
Me: "Delayed Reaction." When you got this interview request what did you think? Who is this loser and his blog?
Jennifer: Actually, I did think "who is this guy?" So, I forwarded it to my husband to check out...he gave the ok. :) He has a better sense on business things than I do and I trust his judgment.
Me: Jennifer, good luck with your new album and lotion business and all your other ventures. Is there anything you can say to help people that want to start in the music business?
Jennifer: Don't let fear hold you back. That's no way to live..I did it for too long. Live life with no regrets....regret is one of the things I hate the most. So, just go for it. If you are hungry enough for it and don't quit when everyone else does, you'll get to where you need to be and meet the people you need to meet. And when you get there, remember to give me a call...lol.
Me: Finally, Jennifer, is there any websites I can plug? If people want to check out your album when it comes out where could they? Also, where could they buy your lotions?
Jennifer: Album updates will be available on my Myspace page, my website, and Keyed Up Records Myspace.
www. myspace. com/jennifermckeemusic
www. jennifermckeeofficial. com
www. myspace. com/keyeduprecords
www. myspace. com/keyeduptanning (for lotions and such)
Jennifer, once again thanks for taking part and taking time to answer these questions. Have a wonderful Holiday.
Jennifer McKee, phans. Check out her websites, and listen to her music. The Phile will be back on Phriday with the normal posting, then on Saturday the interview will be with another singer/songwriter... Amanda Marsh. Thanks again, and remember, spread the word, not the turd.