Jenn Bostic Didn't Set Out To Be An Independent Artist, But She Is Very Proud Of Her Story

"Dreaming was never meant to be for the faint of heart."

For the Dreamers,

I don't have all the answers, I haven't accomplished all my goals. Even when I do, I'll dream up a few more that are just out of reach — because that's what we do. We're dreamers. Visionaries. My dream involves singing and writing songs, connecting with an audience, and trying to spread love into the world through my music. However, there is doubt and insecurity in the details.

I've loved music for as long as I can remember. My parents constantly encouraged my brother and me to sing in choirs and play instruments. I never fully understood my need for this musical outlet until my father was killed in a car accident when I was 10. I felt like no one in the world knew what I was going through. The only way I could express the pain, confusion, anger, and sadness I felt was by sitting down at the piano. Songwriting became my therapy. Somehow the words I couldn't bring myself to say, I sang. It gave me freedom and purpose; it brought breath back into my lungs.

That's why I started writing music. It wasn't for applause or radio play; it was to heal my broken heart. I didn't want to do anything else with my life so I chased that feeling all the way to college, and then all the way to Nashville. I was young, determined, and encouraged by everyone around me. I knew I was chasing the dream I was meant to chase, and I'll never forget the feeling I had as I ripped the plastic off the first copy of my debut album. 

Courtesy: Jenn Bostic
Courtesy: Jenn Bostic

I carried that CD into fancy music industry offices with all the confidence in the world. I was told I "wasn't ready yet," that I was "too pop for country and too country for pop." I had a "good voice" but needed to develop it. My songs were "great, but not quite ready for a publishing deal." I was crushed. They were right, but I was crushed. 

As a songwriter, I vulnerably pour my heart into the songs I write. If someone doesn't like my songs, they don't like me. I know that sounds dramatic, I just reread it. But as an artist, I have all the feelings and, as much as I try to take my emotions out of it, I can't. However, I am well aware that I have chosen to work in the music business. Business means that people are expecting to make money in their jobs. If a record label executive can't see a vision for financial gain with the music I'm creating, I don't want them to sign me. The only thing more frustrating than knocking on a door that wont open would be sitting on a shelf while someone else decides when, where, and how I get to release the music I'm creating. Even so, that logic doesn't make it any easier when I play my favorite song for a room full of suits that have nothing more to say than, "thanks for coming in." Truth is, I not so secretly want them to jump up and down and say that my song is the best song they've ever heard. When they don't, I start to question everything. There go those emotions again.

If you had told me when I started this career that after a decade of working in this industry I would still be independent, self-funded, and booking my own shows, I might have run in the other direction. But here I am. Somehow the bills are always paid, and I've learned so much more than any book or class could teach me by working hard, making mistakes, and celebrating every single win. I now see the beauty, the luxury, and the freedom in being independent. Of course I still dream about having a record deal, going on tour with Bonnie Raitt, and accepting a Grammy, but I have come to realize that positivity and gratitude are the two essential keys to a happy life. 

After four self-released albums, a No. 1 song, major radio play, television performances, international tours, and a humbling amount of awards, it doesn't get easier — and I'm not getting any younger. As time ticks on, there is a whole new set of life challenges to face and questions to answer. Yes, sometimes it feels like swimming through quicksand, but staying positive is the only way I can keep circling this mountain of a dream. It won't change a single thing to blame those who don't see my vision the way I do, or become frustrated when my peers experience an opportunity that wasn't meant for me. So friends, hold on to the hope that your door will open exactly when it's supposed to. And in the moments you want to quit so bad it hurts to breathe, remember that your dream is your oxygen — and dreaming was never meant to be for the faint of heart.

Wholeheartedly,

Jenn Bostic

Check out Jenn Bostic's album Revival, which features "Faint of Heart," here.

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