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JESSICA DENISE is a singer-songwriter based in Edmonton, Alberta. She grew up listening to opera and musical theatre, trained as a classical vocalist, and now merges that background with her love of contemporary styles, creating a compelling "theatrical pop" sound that's all her own.
Jessica’s road to writing her own music has had many twists and turns. "Growing up, I was always 'the classical singer'. I spent most of my free time at lessons, rehearsals, competitions, performances." It seemed inevitable that Jessica would pursue studies in classical voice at university. However, although she loved singing operatic arias and playing piano concertos, something was missing. "I couldn't understand why I felt that way. I thought it meant that maybe music wasn't my calling after all."
Against the wishes of her family and mentors, Jessica dropped out of her university vocal program. "I spent a lot of time doing everything else. I studied psychology, I studied dance, I took acting. I even thought about becoming an accountant!" But none of those paths seemed right either. Not being able to perform - not having music in her life - was heartbreaking. One day, confused and unsure, Jessica tried something she had never done before: she sat down at the piano to write something of her own. "I poured my soul into the piano keys...and the lyrics followed. I sat there, and I cried, and I said to myself: this is what my heart was trying to tell me all along. I just wasn't listening."
So one big question was answered, but another still remained. Now writing and performing her own songs, Jessica still felt as though she had to fit into an easily recognizable genre category: was she a country girl, a pop singer, or an R&B diva...? Just as "classical vocalist" hadn't quite fit, neither did any of the more contemporary labels. Jessica loved - and could sing in - all of those styles...and meanwhile, opera, musical theatre and classical music were still fundamental components of her artistic DNA as well. She had to find her own voice and style as a songwriter and performer, one that could weave together all the strands into something both classic and modern, real and theatrical, soulful and expressive and straight from the heart.
She kept writing, and performing, and listening - to her fellow artists in Edmonton's thriving music scene, and to influences like Sarah Slean and Regina Spektor who had followed similar paths from classical music to pop. "It's been a tough road and it's still tough. But in the songs I'm writing now, I feel like I've finally come to terms with my classical roots and my love of popular music. I don't have to 'fit into' any particular box; I can just be me. I'm different, sure, but I'm finding that a lot of people like that." Being a dynamic, expressive performer certainly helps; Jessica has appeared at most of Edmonton's main music venues, both as a solo entertainer and with other acts, both local and touring. She is building a strong local fan base, which she looks forward to expanding across Canada with her first tour in the summer of 2014. She is currently recording her second EP...and may even be returning to music school. The winding road continues - an artistic journey that's marked with pain, passion and determination, all of which are clear in Jessica's songs. There's no question that audiences will want to come along for the ride.