Jillian Edwards is a 25-year old Nashville based singer-songwriter originally from Dallas, TX. Edwards has had the chance to work with or open for a number of acts, including: Drew & Ellie Holcomb, Josh Garrels, Ben Rector, David Ramirez, The Civil Wars, and Bethany Dillon. Edwards released her first EP, Galaxies & Such, Edwards’ in 2009 and released her second effort, Headfirst, in 2011, which held the #1 spot on singer-songwriter charts for its entire release week. She married Will Franklin Chapman and the pair along with her brother-in-law, Caleb Chapman, both members of the band Colony House, created an indie-folk side project called “The Inlaws.” Edwards co-wrote and sang on the title track of Ellie Holcomb’s latest album, “With You Now.” She also sang vocals on “How Great Thou Art,” a track from Steven Curtis Chapman’s bluegrass record, “Deep Roots.” The title track from her latest work, “Daydream,” is featured on an iTunes compilation album and her most recent effort was released on March 11, 2014. I had the chance to chat with Lightning’s artist of the week about her latest piece of work and how this Texas native made her way to Nashville.
Q: You are originally from Dallas, TX and recently moved to Nashville. How does the music scene differ in these two cities and how has it influenced your style of music?
A: My transition was more from college to Nashville because I started playing shows while in college. There is a combination of growing up in Dallas and the college culture. It’s more common for people to make a living through music in Nashville. You can view it either as encouraging or be intimidated and act competitively. Everyone wants to help people here.
Q: How did you get to where you are now?
A: I grew up singing in school and church, and had parents who sang. Music has always been in my family’s blood. I have always known that’s what I wanted to do, but also wanted to go to college. I went to college knowing that I wanted to be an artist, as I believe that to be my purpose, but studied communication. I had planned to move to Nashville as soon as possible. I lived in Nashville summer before my senior year at Waco. There were a few mentors that encouraged and believed in me. Being a student highlighted my desire to pursue being an artist full time. It felt like the right time and I was ready to go. Moving to Nashville was the natural next step in my career. Now living in Nashville and not being a student, it feels like home.
Q: You’ve worked with or opened for a range of artists (Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Ben Rector, The Civil Wars, David Ramirez, etc.), who is your favorite collaborator?
A: Ellie Holcomb is one of my favorite people to write with. If I write with her, I know I am going to like the outcome of it. I was able to open for those artists on their tour stops through Texas. There was one venue in Waco, called Common Ground, that these artists played at and I made myself available to open for any artists of the artists coming through.
Q: Your last EP was released two years ago, how does it differ from your new EP, if at all?
A: I really love the sound on this record. It matches what I hoped it to be and it feels very organic. There are things about each record that I want to keep progressing. This 8-song EP was produced by Joe Causey, and he was able to capture my sound and highlight it.
Q: Do you have a favorite track?
A: There is a live version of “In Just A Little While,” which is a song I wrote for my husband. It’s sort of me speaking to him and speaking words that both of us live by. They are all special to me, but that one stands out because of its truth.
Q: Some of your influences are Allison Krauss, Patty Smith, and Mindy Smith. Would you consider these your influences or consider yourself in the same genre?
A: I consider my genre as singer/songwriter. I don’t like to label my music as pop, folk, or country as some songs vary in their sound.
Q: Your voice and style have been described as a blend between Allison Krauss and Norah Jones, how would you describe your sound?
A: I am really delighted to hear that someone would complement my voice to that degree. I would love for that to be true! I hope that’s true, but I also hope to be my own unique voice. I could see similarities vocally. There are parts of their voices that I am definitely influenced by.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: Everything I surround myself with influences or inspire my songwriting. Basically, I am inspired by people who run after their sound. If it moves me, I am going to be inspired by it. Allison Krauss has one of my favorite voices, and there’s an element of respect attached to her name.
Q: Your husband is in a band and your father-in law is artist Steven Curtis Chapman. How is the dynamic of being in a musical family?
A: I couldn’t have imagined a better combination of elements in my family. It works really well to work in the same industry as my husband, but doing different things (he is the drummer for Colony House). Going into our relationship, we both felt strongly that performing was our purpose. The understanding of that has helped our relationship. One of my favorite songwriters is my dad. Having a musical family encourages and fuels me more and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Q: What is your long-term goal as a musician?
A: I want to be able to sustain a career in music for my whole life. Right now, I am in a place in my life where I am ready to put in the work. In a few years, we will definitely want to have kids, but I hope to be writing and releasing records for the rest of my life.
Q: Describe your writing process.
A: I kind of go with the flow. It ends up being relational songs, love songs, some of my songs are prayers, but most are about life. I never sit down with the intention to write a song, but let something come to me and write about it
Q: What is a personal highlight of your career?
A: My latest album is something I’m very proud of. Since Will and I got married (the couple just celebrated a year in December), he has been involved in the process of this album and having that to share is special. Right now I am most grateful for where I am at in my career. I’m not sure what the future will look like, but I know that I am blessed.
Q: What is your advice for others following their dreams? (not just in music).
Value yourself in what you’re running after. If it’s something that is life giving to you, putting in the hours will be worth it. Make sure that what you are doing is for the right reasons. Don’t look for the end product, but for the journey.
Jillian Edwards Interview conducted and written by: Lexie Deeb