Interview: Jenny Gill ‘Fortunate … Grateful … Blessed’ to Release Debut EP
Jenny Gill knows how lucky she is. Although the singer-songwriter is adamant about being her own artist, she recognizes that her family and upbringing, her musical foundation and the circumstances in which she crafted her debut EP, The House Sessions, are anything but ordinary.
"I'm so fortunate that I get to do this for fun ... and I am fortunate enough to not have to struggle ... I can do it because I love it and I'm free in it, and I'm just grateful for that every day," Gill -- the daughter of Vince Gill and Sweethearts of the Rodeo's Janis Oliver, and the stepdaughter of Amy Grant -- tells The Boot. As she reflects on growing up among musical icons, being married to someone in the music business (Josh Van Valkenburg, a senior vice president at Sony-ATV) and working with her father, Sheryl Crow and Jon Randall, among others, on her EP, Gill laughs and admits, "It's just not fair how blessed I am; it's just not fair."
That's also, though, quite a bit of pressure, and having to, in a sense, live up to it is part of what took Gill until now to release any music.
"I wanted to see if there was anything I was good at that wasn't the music industry," Gill explains, "and so I spent a lot of time trying to carve out my own place in other areas, and it never turned into anything."
Gill notes that her musical pedigree and the fact that she could pursue a music career for fun, without having to worry about earning enough to live, were double-edged swords.
"I think that's why it's taken me so long ... If I had to have that feeling of starving, I would have done this 10 years ago," she reflects. "But I try not to feel guilty about that or put myself down because of that ...
"Before, the battle would be not to pay my bills but to be noticed and be good enough ... and then I figured out, it's not about that at all," Gill continues. "I'm just proud that I finished something and that people are responding to it ... I just want it to reach people who need to hear this music."
But when her son Wyatt came along, in August of 2014, "it all kind of made so much sense," Gill says.
"Wyatt really made me want to do something that he would be proud of, because that's the way I feel about my parents," she adds, "and I just wanted to be a good example for him."
Gill wrote five of The House Sessions' six tracks; her father produced the project.
"I have to give him credit for how great this EP sounds," Gill says -- and for making the calls to Randall and the others; she adds, "I hope it reflects my talent level; I don't think he woul have done that if I was a 14-year-old trying to get started ..."
Crow's appearance on Gill's EP is all Gill's work, however: "She just showed up at the house to hang out with Amy," Gill remembers, and ... well, something can't happen if you don't ask for it. Crow said yes, "and it [was] just like, 'Holy s--t, this is happening!"
"[She's] one of the Top 5 coolest chicks, in my book," Gill gushes, reminiscing about how influential Crow, Alanis Morissette and other mid-1990s female rock and pop stars were during her youth, and to her musically. "Coolest. Day. Ever."
And while Gill admits that her love of rock and pop came partially as an attempt to try to break out of her parents' shadows, it's also clear that, both as her parents and as artists, Gill respects and appreciates them.
"He's such a performer ... he's such a great artist to look up to, take the 'Dad thing' out of it," Gill says of her father. "[My parents' concerts] help me to remember that I don't have to be this young, hot, pop star ... I'm so fortunate that that's the kind of artists they are, and I get to witness it all the time."
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