Jessamyn Rains, a singer-songwriter from Tennessee, just released a new video for her liturgical song 'Holy'. Louder Than The Music caught up with her to find out more about her music, the inspiration behind it, and how she measures success.
For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?
My father played the piano for a living, so I was around music a lot as a child. My first instrument was the drums. Later I started learning piano and guitar, and I began writing songs as a teenager.
Tell us about your new single 'Holy' and what the inspiration behind it was?
I was playing that melody on the guitar for a while, and I didn't know what the words would be. Then on Palm Sunday, after feeling moved by the sight of the palm branches and imagining Jesus riding into Jerusalem, I applied the words from the liturgical “Holy” to my melody.
Do you have plans to release further music in the near future?
I have some new material that I hope to release music in the near future - including a collaboration with some very talented musician friends - but plans are not definite yet.
What message would you like people to take from your music?
The thing I want most for people to take away is that God is near: that all of our experiences - painful, joyful, mundane - can provide an opportunity for us to connect with Him. Rev. 3:20 says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (ESV).
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
Maybe contemplative folk. I've been influenced by various female singer-songwriters - Joni Mitchell, Iris Dement, Nanci Griffith, Gillian Welch are a few - also by classic Christian songwriters like Keith Green and Rich Mullins - more recently by hymn writers and meditative music, like the music from the Taize community.
If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?
This is not very original, but probably Bob Dylan, for obvious reasons. Plus you could say you co-wrote with Bob Dylan.
How would you define success in your career as an artist?
Whenever I hear that a song of mine meant something to someone, or if I perform and feel that I have made a meaningful connection with my audience, I feel successful and I feel that it was worth the effort. There's another kind of success that I have rarely achieved, if ever: creating music that sounds as good in real life as it does in my head. I still want to create something really beautiful. I don't feel that I have succeeded in doing so yet.
What is your favorite album of all time?
Maybe Keith Green's “For Him Who Has Ears to Hear.”
You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?
“Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs” from Handel's Messiah.
What does the next year hold for you?
Singing with the kids, writing more songs, hopefully new recordings and collaborations.