I was born in Sundsvall in 1973. Already at an early age my parents realized I had a great love of music. Just before my seventh birthday they bought me a real piano, a fantastic present for a little girl who, prior to that, had tried her best to pick out songs on a little toy keyboard! Even now it is hard to fully describe the passion my favorite instrument evokes in me; hardly a day goes by without some tickling of the ivories in my home.
At the age of eight I made my debut in a children’s choir, an activity I continued for many years as a member of youth choirs. My mother always said I woke up and fell asleep singing!
By the age of nine there was little doubt in my mind that music would one day be my profession. I was especially inspired by my music teacher’s love of playing; indeed it was she who convinced me to concentrate on a future in music.
In fourth grade I was accepted to music school for piano and cello. By the age of eleven I had had my first concert, a program including Grieg and Peterson Berger. In middle and high school I was providing the accompaniment to celebrations such as Lucia and graduation days. Whenever my teacher was unable to participate, I took her place.
One of my early high points was getting accepted into Härnösand Music Gymnasium thanks to a successful rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. My grades, while good, had not been quite enough to qualify and I was really nervous; I can still remember the teacher asking me how I could work the pedals, so much my legs were shaking. But it went off without a hitch! The years at HMG were a great time in my life. I went from three hours of piano, guitar and singing per day to practicing seven hours a day, resulting in many concerts including a tour to Trondheim In addition there was the experience of recording brand-new compositions.
After graduation I continued to enjoy an ever broadening series of opportunities, studying piano under Bengt Andersson while at the same time playing a lot of Cuban and African music. I then took a degree in Musical Pedagogy at Härnösand and Stockholm, while working as a musical therapist for patients in rehabilitation programs.
In 1997, Felicia Konrad and I formed a duo, FEA. I wrote most of the piano music and Felicia wrote the lyrics. We went on a long tour (Wave of Venus) and put out a record with the same title; there were also a number of radio and festival engagements.
Between 1999-2002 I worked as a music teacher at a middle school. Each year I wrote a new musical involving the whole student body (100 pupils) in one way or another.
In 2002 my daughter was born. During parental leave the concept of Soft Classics took form, a tasteful program of of piano instrumentals for special occasions comprising a mix of film, classical and jazz music. (If you have a moment, by all means please check out the website at www.softclassics.se !) Since then I have had the pleasure of entertaining people at everything from champagne breakfasts to inaugural galas and gourmet banquets. My best friend, a baby grand Yamaha GT2, has always had pride of place in the tour bus. My egagements as a piano entertainer have been an ever increasing part of my life; a range of musical styles and a repertoire of over 700 songs accompanied by different artists has meant a constant opportunity to develop as a live performer and singer.
But nothing in life is just an easy ride. In 2004, my mother Siv passed away in that terrible tsunami. Suddenly it was if all my energy stopped flowing and for the first time in my life I couldn’t touch the piano. I did however sing every day. My first gig, a half year later at a piano bar, felt like a true challenge. How could I once again spread joy, caught as I was in the middle of my sorrow? As I sat at the piano I recognized a member of the audience, a man named Pigge Werkelin who has lost his entire family in the tsunami. We started talking about all that had happened and hugged each other and Pigge said ”You are strong, Jessica. We humans are stronger than you can imagine. Believe me, I know. Now get out there and show them what you’re made of!” I did just that and suddenly the music and words started flowing again.
I am working right now on writing my own material. In September 2010 and January 2011 I recorded my debut album in Nashville.. This has been a very special experience in itself. The musicians who play on my debut album are among others, Charlie McCoy, Chip Young, Bob Mater and Vip Vipperman. They have toured and recorded with some of the big names like Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Le Ann Rimes, Donna Summer, Kenny Rodgers, Don McLean, Johnny Cash and many many others.
The album " The Nashville Sessions " is to be released in September 2011. It's going to be a real rock album but has even several piano ballads. The songs are all about life in different ways. Many of the songs have come to life after different meetings and conversations with friends and acquaintances, but also are partly about myself. This year has been the most fun and most rewarding in all of my musical career. I hope that you are going to like the album!
I hesitate to place my work in one or another musical category as I’ve been influenced by a wide range of styles; rock, country, gospel, bossa nova- it’s all good! Most of the songs have come to me during walks. I usually also hear which instrument(s) will provide the basis. Sometimes piano or guitar, sometimes also horns and strings.
This is a whole new way of writing for me. The lyrics are intensely personal, incorporating aspects of my life and people I’ve met along the way. The songs are also composed in a way that I can play them ”unplugged”.
My dream has always been to be an artist, after all, where the important thing is to express the music in a way that moves the listener and stays with them when they go home. What is not important is whether I’m playing in a small venue or doing a festival gig. The feeling should be the same. I’ve promised myself that should that feeling ever disappear, I would have to give some serious thought as to moving on to something else.
I am so very thankful and happy to have been given the opportunity to do what I really want to do. Music, quite simply, is my life.