Jessica Rhaye, a singer/songwriter and visual artist from Saint John, New Brunswick, releases her new album Good Things, an organic, contemporary folk album that has received great praise, including a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination and a 2010 East Coast Music Award nomination for Folk Recording of the Year.
Over the years Jessica has been nominated for a total of 11 East Coast Music Awards, has received recognition from numerous songwriting awards and has performed all over Canada, in Africa, parts of the United States and toured al over the United Kingdom.
Jessica has co-written with notable Canadian songwriters Ron Sexsmith and Ken Tobias.
IN JESSICA’S OWN WORDS………
I do not come from a very musical family. My mother can sing and play a few songs on the guitar and I had a great aunt who could play the piano, but that is really the extent of the musical history in my family. Although my parents weren’t musicians, their interest in music exposed me to exceptional songwriters, from Lennon & McCartney, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, John Denver to Anne Murray – these are just some of the songwriters that I remember listening to and being inspired by as a young girl.
After high school, and shortly after recording my self-titled first full-length album, I knew that I needed an alternative creative outlet. I applied and was accepted to New Brunswick’s College of Craft and Design and the moment I sat in front of a computer there was never any question, I was going to be a graphic artist. College was such a wonderful period of growth and evolution for me as an artist. I was surrounded by such a variety of art forms and artists; I had never been so full of inspiration and ideas. I felt like I was bursting so it was an incredibly fruitful period for my creative output.
During my college years, I decided to work on improving my music and song writing skills. I knew I needed to collaborate with other writers but I was quite hesitant. The funny thing was that although I loved to be able to share my experiences through music, I felt conflicted about sharing my unfinished songs with other songwriters, but I put aside my self-consciousness and opened up my song journal. The songs that I work on with others were always songs that for some reason I just couldn’t finish. As I worked with the other writers or “song-doctors,” as some like to refer to themselves, these songs became much stronger and really emphasized the hooks in the melodies and lyrics. It really was one of the best learning experiences and such a boost for my career. I’ve been fortunate and been able to work with some phenomenal songwriters including my producer Ed Woodsworth, Ken Tobias, Dave Gunning, Asif Illyas and Ron Sexsmith. This period of time and my college experiences inspired the production of my sophomore album “Short Stories.”
I started thinking about producing an acoustic album while I was on tour in the United Kingdom with Dave Gunning and Matt Anderson. Each night we played our solo sets, and then we would take the stage together and collaborate on a variety of songs to close the night. My acoustic set was met with such positive feedback, that I started thinking I should revisit my roots - in essence the influences of my parents’ record collection.
The result is my new album “Good Things,” which takes a more organic approach focusing on simple and classic instrumentation such as stand up bass, acoustic guitars, mandolin, and piano. This was a trip back to the positive music that has influenced my life and art; a time when as a child I was experiencing new things, great music and had a very positive outlook on life. I have really enjoyed writing and recording this new collection of songs and taking an acoustic approach to the production. To tie in to the organic nature of the acoustic instrumentation, I really wanted the imagery to be simple and classic. I believe “Good Things” really reflects who I am as a musician at this stage in my life and the skills I’ve developed as a songwriter, musician, graphic artist and person.
I am excited about where all of my albums have taken me and where I can go in the future. To me, it’s not about the paper accomplishments, but more about the experience, the things I have learned and how I can open up and share my stories through my music.