The JaneDear Girls Are Pickin’ More Than Just ‘Wildflowers’
From the minute Susie Brown and Danelle Leverett met, they knew they had a special kind of chemistry. Now known as the JaneDear girls, Susie and Danelle have experienced their first Top 15 single, 'Wildflower,' received their first ACM nominations for Top New Vocal Duo or Group and Top Vocal Duo of the Year, and have a hit album that has been blowing off the shelves since its release earlier this month.
"Literally on our first day that we wrote a song together, our co-writer noticed that we were a duo," Danelle tells The Boot. "He was like, 'You play alike, sing alike and talk alike.' I know that sounds weird, but really the first day that we even hung out, we both knew this was what we were going to end up doing."
"From there we started knocking on publishers doors, and five-and-a-half years later, we're sitting here talking to you!" adds Susie with laughter.
During those years, the girls worked hard at crafting their songwriting, as well as their musical prowess. Between the two of them, Susie and Danelle play eight instruments: accordion, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, fiddle, gango, harp and mandolin. Soon, they not only caught the ear of Music City, but also of Big & Rich's John Rich who wasted no time jumping on their bandwagon to play the role of producer for the duo's debut project on Warner Bros. Records.
Far from being intimidated by working with the seasoned musician and producer, the girls were at ease in the studio, but Danelle admits they did have one struggle.
"Deciding on what songs to record prior to going in was tough, because we had so many of them," she says. "We'd written, like, 200 songs for this first album. Once we got into the studio, knowing what songs we were going to do, it was really painless and fun. Trying to decide on those songs was really tough, though. You listen through 50 songs ... how do you even begin to try and narrow them down?"
Adds Susie, "We've had some great opportunities to do demos of songs before we got into the actual recording of the album. So Danelle and I have been able to put on almost like a producer hat while we're in the studio. It wasn't really scary when we went in to do the record, because you know what you want and you know what you're going for."
The time spent working with John gave the girls the extra boost of confidence they needed to know they were on the right track. "He was really good about listening to what we wanted and not pushing or strong-handling us to go in a specific direction," says Susie. "He just made it better. It was really fun going into the studio and creating our album with him."
Susie reveals that she even used her vintage look, including bright red lipstick, to help enhance the atmosphere in the studio. "For 'Wildflower,' 'Shotgun Girl,' 'Sugar' and a couple of other songs, I totally got dressed up in the mood of the song when I went into the studio," she says. "I felt like I was kind of in that mood or character as I was singing."
That mood also set the tone for their debut single, 'Wildflower,' to become an instant fan favorite. "It was a big surprise to see how it just took off for us," Susie says of the song and video for 'Wildflower,' which topped GAC's Top 20 Country Countdown. "When you're moving to Nashville, you're taking a leap. You put yourself out there, and you just see what happens. You're not really in control of it. All you can do is do your best and put your best foot forward and see what happens. We've been really lucky that it's done so well."
In January, the JaneDear girls hit the road on Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party tour, along with special guest, Eric Church, giving them a chance to see what it takes to entertain arena-sized crowds. The tour runs through May, but if the girls get their way, they'll continue on from there without missing a beat.
"It would be so much fun to do a summer tour with Jason or someone else just to get that experience," notes Susie. "Being on the road with these guys who have been doing it five, 10, 15 or 20 years in country music ... it's really cool to watch their live shows and see how they command an audience. You can learn so much from these people, and I think that would be really fun to do on a summer and fall tour."
With 'Wildflower' continuing to be played in heavy rotation, you would think the girls have been receiving their fair share of wildflowers on the road. "You know what ... that would be awesome!" Susie gushes. "We haven't had any wildflowers brought to us yet!"
"We've had people make us shirts with wildflowers on it, but yeah ... we haven't had any actual wildflowers brought to us yet," adds Danelle.
"We should get a basket of wildflowers and toss them out while we're singing," laughs Susie.
As they look further into 2011, the girls are already planning their next set of goals, and are well on their way to accomplishing them.
"We want to sell as many albums as possible!" says Danelle. "And try to get out of debt, how about that? [laughs] Before you make it, you just spend everybody else's money. Now they're waiting on us to start making some money! [laughs] That would be kind of cool to break even and start making money for the people who have believed in us.
"But what we've been trying to do," Danelle continues, "and I hope we can continue to do it, is after we play our shows, we go out to where our bus is and we sign autographs. So far we've been able to schedule that in and make it a priority to get to meet each and every fan who wants to meet us. I just hope that this year we can seriously embrace any one person who wants to meet us, because that's why we do what we're doing is for the fans."
"I would definitely agree with Danelle to keep our fans number one and important to us at all times," says Susie. "They're the ones who put us here, and for that we are forever grateful! We owe them everything we have. They have put us on the most incredible journey of our lives, and we can't wait to see where we get to go from here!"
The JaneDear girls self-titled debut album is available now.
The JaneDear girls Sing 'Wildflower' Live