Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Gerhardt.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Born and raised in Los Angeles, I’ve been singing since as far back as I can remember. I began writing songs when I was eight years old. One of my first songs, that I co-wrote with my friend Elena, was called “Cold Spaghetti” about magic spaghetti that wouldn’t heat up no matter how many different ways you tried to re-heat it. Since then, my songwriting has matured to explore topics related to self-discovery, unhealthy patterns, and behaviors in relationships, the search for authenticity and the challenge of self-acceptance. I was also raised as a Catholic Christian, and many of the themes, symbols, and saints of my faith, as well as my questioning and examination of it, influence my music and writing as well.
From the ages of 8-18, I was a part of a performing arts organization called the Virginia Avenue Project which helped youth from underprivileged backgrounds to collaborate with professional actors, writers, and directors to produce original theater productions. It was an influential program and gave me confidence in performing and sharing art with an audience and being on a stage.
I started playing ukulele when I was 14 years old when my friend Elena invited me to take a ukulele lesson with her. I fell in love with the instrument and continued to teach myself how to play and have been playing ever since. Learning to play ukulele also changed the way I wrote music and helped me to develop an intuitive sense of music theory that I hadn’t explored before.
I attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon where I received my BA in Psychology. I was drawn to that field because of my fascination with what motivates human behavior, how we form beliefs, and what influences the way we relate to each other and seek connection. While studying there, I came to realize my passion for songwriting and singing and decided to pursue music after college.
Since college, I’ve played and sung in several bands, performed at many venues and festivals, recorded and co-written music with a bunch of talented artists, and I am now preparing to release a new EP of my own original music entitled “Be My Hands,” to be released in early 2019. I also regularly music direct and lead the worship band for one of the weekly services at my church, where I also work with and serve youth in grades 7-12. I’m also a contributing writer for a Catholic feminist blog called FemCatholic in my spare time.
Please tell us about your art.
I am a singer-songwriter-ukuleleist. My songwriting is inspired by my most impactful personal experiences and relationships, or by the stories of people I know and care about. I am drawn to stories of growth and finding hope in struggle. I love vulnerability and particulars. I am humbled regularly by own mistakes, and I love to turn those experiences into art, especially those mistakes made in the context of relationships. As painful as breakups and heartache can be, each one has been a vehicle for incredible self-reflection and growth and has been a valuable teacher. I hope to share some of that learning with others, to inspire and perhaps even provide healing for others going through similar things. Beyond our different religious affiliations or lack thereof, I believe there are many universal truths and feelings – like a longing to be seen and known, to feel connected to others, to feel safe and to be loved as we truly are – and I try to express those truths in my lyrics. My hope in sharing my real and raw stories through music is to create bridges for other people to feel safe to be real and authentic as well.
Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
I find that going to shows or galleries and seeing artists whose art I admire can be a great place to meet fellow artists that are inspired by and creating similar projects. I also have met a number of artists by connecting with people who share my other interests and values. Within those communities that aren’t explicitly artistic, I’ve talked about my passion for music, and then fellow artists just seem to emerge with their mutual passion, and friendships and collaborations blossom. Being an artist can make you feel alone and misunderstood sometimes, but I try to stay connected to individuals that I can truly be myself around. People who let me be me and accept me as I am.
When I release my EP it will be available all the general places as well, like on iTunes, Spotify, etc.
For less produced, raw acoustic scratch recordings, check out www.soundcloud.com/jessicagerhardtmusic.
You can follow my journey on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @jgerhardtmusic.
- Website: www.jessicagerhardtmusic.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/jgerhardtmusic
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/jgerhardtmusic
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/jgerhardtmusic
- Other: jessicagerhardt.bandcamp.com
Pic 1: Ian Webber
Pic 2: Kristina Fullerton
Pic 3: Christine Bartolucci
Pic 4: Aidan Demoli
Pic 5: Tam Lontok
Pic 6: Cover art for “Aquarius” single by Ultraviolet Alley
Pic 7: David Cano
Pic 8: Tam Lontok