Elevate Difference

Voice of an Angel: Talking to Jill Andrews

Interview with Jill Andrews

When I first spoke to singer Jill Andrews, I was quite shocked when she first answered the phone. Her voice was low, slow, and groggy, which wasn’t what I was expecting. You see, Andrews quite literally has the voice of an angel.

As it turned out, I was waking her up from a peaceful nap with her infant son, Nico. Nico was born around the time that Andrews’ critically acclaimed, Tennessee-based band, The Everybodyfields, broke up. She and her band were part of a growing wave of young musicians emerging from the south who are meshing the music of their region (country, bluegrass, and blues) with the music they grew up listening to (punk and indie rock) to create an interesting sound of their own. The Everybodyfields garnered a lot of attention early in their five-year career because of Andrews beautiful harmonizing with bandmate Sam Quinn and their constant touring with the increasingly popular Avett Brothers.

After the split, Andrews got to work creating music of her own, and recently released her first self-titled EP. No one can sing like Jill Andrews; no one can convey heartbreak and loneliness and aching pain like she can in just a single line. The EP is six songs of simple, pure, and heartfelt music, and though Andrews has a lot on her plate (a recent tour and her first child), she decided to release another six-track album recorded live at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, Georgia to benefit the International Rescue Committee and help the earthquake survivors in Haiti.

Who were your musical influences growing up?

My first tape was Diana Ross, and I wore that tape out when I was a kid. I have to say, though, that my first huge musical influence was Bette Midler. When I got to high school, I was really into folk music and started listening to things that weren’t on the radio, like The Jayhawks and Wilco. I was also really into Joni Mitchell.

A lot of what I started listening to in high school was influenced by my surroundings and where I came from. Living in the mountains of Tennessee influences the music we listened to, and the mountains were the perfect backdrop it. The music I like most now is the type of music I write and play. I like really emotional music. When I listen to songs, I want to feel something. I want to dirty dance or cry my eyes out.

When did you realize you wanted to be a musician?

I can remember always wanting to be famous, but my parents tell a different story. We always went to this donut shop together, and when I was a really little kid, my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said a donut waitress. In high school I was in youth choir, school choir, and church choir, and all of my instructors were really supportive and made sure that I knew my voice was going to be heard.

When did you meet Sam Quinn?

Around the same time I started playing guitar, I went to summer camp. Sam was a camp counselor, and he asked me to sing a song, so I put on a cheesy karaoke tape and sang to it. I’m sure he thought I was crazy. After the first week of camp, I realized I really needed a guitar because everyone who had a guitar sucked. I knew if I practiced I could be good at it. I’m sure I made a fool of myself at first, but I began writing songs immediately after getting my guitar.

What do you hope people take from your music?

I’ve always been into helping people. I was a psychology major in college, and I worked with kids who had behavioral issues, but I quit to pursue music full-time. For a long time I struggled with the decision because being a singer seemed too egocentric. Every night the spotlight was shining on me. I got all dressed up and it was kind of like, “Hey, look at me!” I’ve since made peace with it, though. Music helps the emotional state of the world. People need music, and I need to keep making music for the sake of my own well being, so it all works out in the end.

Written by: Tina Vasquez, March 22nd 2010

You've a nice detailed interview with Jill Andrews. Joni Mitchell, Bette Midler and Diana Ross are all very different musical influences. It's interesting to learn where the spark of musical inspiration springs from.