Artist: Jaelee Roberts
Hometown: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Latest Album: Something You Didn’t Count On (May 20, 2022)
Personal nicknames: Jae, Jae Jae, J.D., Jables, Junior, J-Bird
Which artist has influenced you the most … and how?
Well, first off, it is truly not possible for me to list just one artist … I simply cannot do it. I am going to give a “short” list of women that are really important to me: Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, Lee Ann Womack, Amanda Smith, Dale Ann Bradley, Kelsi Robertson Harrigill, and Charli Robertson Shuler. All of these crazy talented ladies have helped to shape me into the artist that I am because their music spoke to me; the songs they record/recorded helped me start my own repertoire of songs to sing; and their vocal styles — while all very different — influenced me and are part of me becoming me.
I am seriously having anxiety because I don’t want to leave out mentioning someone. Gosh! This is so hard! I do have to mention my dad’s band, The Grascals, because I was 4 years old when they started together so everything they’ve done has influenced me and they gave me my first opportunities to be on stage. Also, I just can’t talk about influences without mentioning Keith Whitley. Okay … I’ll stop. I’m so sorry that I can’t follow directions for this question!
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
Jaelee Roberts: Singer/songwriter with a passion for acoustic music and words that mean something.
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
Again, it is super hard to narrow my answer down to just one favorite memory because it’s special every time I’m on stage and there’s always a moment that really touches my heart. However, for this, I’m definitely going with my favorite memory being the first time I played the Grand Ole Opry with Sister Sadie on December 5, 2020. To say that I was overwhelmed with emotion that night would be a huge understatement! This particular Opry show was in honor of the 75th Anniversary of Bluegrass Music, was televised live on Circle TV, and it was my live audition with Sister Sadie … AND my first time on the Opry as an artist. It makes me nervous all over again just thinking about it! We did a soundcheck prior to the show and l looked down and saw my feet in that amazing circle and I just about lost it. I did keep it together until I got to the dressing room and then I had a pretty good cry. I literally grew up backstage at the Opry and it had been my dream to be on that stage performing as long as I can remember. All I can say is dreams do come true and I am so grateful and thankful!
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
This answer is actually really easy for me because I can honestly say that there wasn’t a first moment but just something that I’ve known in my heart. My parents are both musicians and their friends are musicians and all I’ve ever known is music. However, my parents did not push me into becoming a musician/singer — it was extremely important to them for that decision to be mine. I’ve been told that I started singing just about the time I started talking and that I was able to sing harmony when I was like 2 or 3 years old. I started taking fiddle lessons when I was 4 years old and I started singing in church about that same time so that’s all I’ve ever known … and all I’ve ever wanted.
What has been the best advice you’ve received in your career so far?
I have been blessed to receive so much encouragement and support and all of the advice has been so helpful that, once again, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one thing! Here are a few things that have really stuck with me:
1. Stay in college … do not quit!! Doyle Lawson had a conversation with me about this and that really meant a lot. I’m just about to finish my junior year of college, and when I graduate I’m sending a thank you note to Mr. Doyle!
2. Always keep God in front of everything I do. Make sure that I pray about every decision I make and to do everything for God’s glory.
3. Stay out of other people’s business and just take care of my own.
4. Never talk about anyone because gossip will always come back to bite you.
5. There will always be somebody looking to find something negative so make sure not to give them anything to use.
6. Don’t oversing … restraint is as impressive (or more so) as lots of vocal runs.
7. Don’t eat or drink any dairy products before singing.
8. Write and perform songs that I connect with.
9. Always, always treat people the way I want to be treated.
10. Many quotes from Dolly Parton, though obviously not given directly to me, are extremely good advice and things I take to heart. One of those is “I’m not into politics. I’m an entertainer.” Goodness, I love Dolly!
Photo Credit: Sandlin Gaither