Jane Ellen Bryant
Songstress Jane Ellen Bryant is “right in the thick” of that “big decade of your life,” as she calls it in the title track of her EP, Twenties. It’s that decade full of the best of times, the worst of times, the first real jobs, and the first bona fide heartbreaks that lead us to the cardinal steps of self-discovery. Her music is saturated with the raw, authentic emotions that we all experience during this roller coaster ride as a twenty-something. Yet these lessons, trials, and rowdy good times speak to people of all ages and stages of life. Jane Ellen Bryant delivers a timeless collection of songs, and the three-song EP, out July 2016, is just a taste of the depth that’s to come.
People have always been drawn to Jane’s spirituous voice and haunting melodies, but her fresh, bold, commanding sound and innovative lyrics have given us all something to talk about. Local audiences are buzzing about this “new rock-n-roll girl in town,” but really, Jane is not new at all. Bryant was born and raised in the Live Music Capital of the World, and she’s soaked with the mystical, rare sound that comes from the heart of Austin.
It’s this new, fearless sound that attracted the attention of producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith, who has worked with Jet, Santana, and The Toadies just to name a few. “I’ve experienced many inspirational moments in record production over the last 20 years,” says Frenchie, “but she raised the bar. I had never produced a singer this strong.” He goes on to say that Jane’s music is “capturing the madness of youth, the manic perils of opening up about heartbreak, all while bringing the listener in more and more by telling the truth. What I look for in an artist is believability, and whatever Jane is performing, I believe it.”
We are looking forward to working with Jane and watching her grow musically and professionally in our inaugural year of the Artist Development Program. Get to know Jane in our interview below.
You’re an Austin native. How has your personal knowledge of the Austin music scene helped you navigate it?
I was very privileged to attend the Austin School of Music while growing up. I greatly benefited from bonding with fellow young musicians and learning from their wonderful teachers. I’ve now had those same teachers and students play in my band and support me significantly throughout the years. It was a unique and powerful springboard into the Austin music world.
How did graduating from Belmont University in Nashville help shape your voice and sound?
I received the best training I could have possibly hoped for while attending Belmont. It was a competitive and nurturing environment that pushed me to be my very best. I learned so much from working with and watching my talented peers. Although, it wasn’t until I got out of the school environment that I was able to relax, take a few risks, and tap into my true artistry.
While in school, you had national exposure in an acapella ensemble on PBS’s “Christmas at Belmont”. As if that wasn’t enough, the university president, who is a fan, quoted your lyrics in two commencement addresses. Did you know then that you had something special?
I’m still shocked that President Fisher is such a fan! It was an incredible honor to be the only Belmont musician he quoted at graduation two years in a row. I’m not sure I deserved it, but it really meant the world to me and my family. It also helped me realize that my songs could hit people of all ages.
In 2013, you released “Hourglass” which has an Americana sound. At the time, you told CMT, “I’ve finally found the sound I’m going for.” Now with the release of your EP “Twenties,” we see a grittier side of you. You’re not the meek and mild Jane of three years ago, but a woman who sees the world for what it truly is. So have you discovered anything new about yourself and your sound?
Thank you for saying that. Yes, I most definitely have in every way. As an artist, I’m constantly growing and developing my sound. I have more confidence now to push boundaries and take risks that I would not have taken back then. I’m learning how to be truer to myself than ever before. I’m sure my music will continue to broaden as I do.
Furthermore, “Twenties” is about the disillusioned time in our lives when we enter the world thinking we have it all figured out, but we find we are sorely, and sometimes painfully, mistaken. What made you want to focus on that?
I thought it was something that the majority of my peers were experiencing but no one was processing. It is such a crazy, exhilarating, and sometimes disastrous, time of life that we all take for granted. I wanted the song (and music video) to be a sort of time capsule that we could all have to look back on someday and smile.
Your sound has constantly been compared to that of mid-Nineties songstress Sheryl Crow. Who are your other musical influences and idols?
Bonnie Raitt is a huge idol of mine. I think I was most influenced by the artists I was exposed to at a young age: The Dixie Chicks, The Eagles, ACDC, Shawn Colvin, Linda Ronstadt, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joan Baez, Merle Haggard, Nina Gordon, Jet, Patty Griffin…… and The Spice Girls.
You’ve played all across Austin, opening for acts like Suzanna Choffel, Bob Schneider, and Joe Ely. Who’s been your favorite Austin musician to play with and why?
I’m so grateful for all of those opportunities. Joe Ely was especially kind and attentive at those shows. I’m also really thankful I got to work with fellow Austin School of Music attendee, Max Frost. I toured in his band as background singer a few years ago and gained so much experience. He is an incredibly hard worker that I’ve learned a lot from.
Austin is known for its historic music venues. Are there any that you hold special?
Antone’s is really special to me. It was the first venue I ever got to play back when it was located on 5th and Lavaca. I’m so thankful to the Austin musicians and advocates who have kept it alive and running. It is so crucial to the Austin scene.
How did you come across the Austin Music Foundation?
I’m beyond stoked that the Austin Music Foundation exists. EVERYONE should take advantage of it. It is so symbolic of what makes this city so special and unique. I have Heather Wagner Reed to thank for introducing me to these wonderful people.
Is there one thing you’ve learned that you think every musician should know?
I continuously have to remind myself that, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
With all of your accomplishments, you now have Artist of the Month to tack onto your resume. What does it mean to you to be Artist of the Month?
It is a huge honor!! And a true privilege to have everyone on the Austin Music Foundation team on my side. The people in my life have been so excited since the announcement. It really means more to me than I can say.
You’re in your prime and you don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. So what’s next for you? What can we expect from you down the road?
I’m so pumped for what this next year has in store! You will see me on the road and will definitely hear some more new tunes. The best is yet to come 🙂