Jennifer Lauren’s obsession with singing began as a way to entertain and comfort herself during the stretches of time that she was away from her Mom, who enlisted in the Air Force as a teenager during the 70’s. A tenacious survivor by nature, Lauren was raised primarily by an unbelievably courageous African American/German Mom and, eventually, also by a wonderfully patient and steadfast Mexican American Dad. She was fueled by her multicultural family and absorbed a broad selection of genres that included everything from world beats to worship.
You found comfort singing while your mom was deployed. Your family opened you to many different genres, including world beats and worship. What are some of your mom’s favorite songs?
My Mom prefers Christian music to all others, her favorite song is “Upon This Rock” by Sandi Patty. She also loves Amy Grant, and The Gaither Vocal Band. Interestingly, my Dad prefers soul and rock, so he is still rockin’ Chicago, Santana, The Temptations, James Taylor, and Tremaine Hawkins. His favorite song is “You’ve Got a Friend” and “anything you can hear the actual words to.”
Bandleader. Vocalist. R&B/Soul Performer. You founded a music collective called Soul Revival in Fort Collins, Colorado. How did you come up with the idea for the monthly tribute shows?
Fort Collins is a relatively small college town, so many bands there struggle to find a way to play out regularly without burning out their audience. They were all playing the same songs over, and over, and over again… So, I decided to do something completely different. I wanted to give my community a reason to come and see us every month and I couldn’t think of any way to do that without having a new set for each show. To achieve that, I decided to tribute various artists who had passed away by sharing their life story and covering their songs and the songs of the artists who inspired them. It worked, we changed venues three times the first year to accommodate the audience growth! Plus, I learned a LOT about music history and the artists that gave us the foundation for the music industry today.
Playing at Hodi’s Half Note, The Whisk(e)y, and Elliot’s MartiniBar in Fort Collins. Which Nashville venues remind you of the ones you played in Colorado?
I’ve only been in Nashville for a few months and many venues have been closed due to the pandemic, but from what I’ve seen so far, I would say Hodi’s is equivalent to Basement East or 5 Spot, The Whisk(e)y has got Skull’s vibe, and Elliot’s is kinda like a larger version of The Fox.
#DiveBarTour in #EastNashville. A la Garth Brooks, which dive bars are now on your bucket list to perform at in Music City?
I want all ‘em! Kidding… kidding… slightly kidding. One of the first bars we felt comfy at in Nashville was Bootleggers Inn on Broadway, so I’d definitely like to perform there sometime. I feel like Springwater may be a rite of passage… and probably Santa’s as well! Ultimately, I love to perform live and I will do so anywhere that’ll have me.
Going to shows at BB King’s Nashville, where artists like Jason Momoa and the Mike Hayes Band play. Which BB King songs are your favorites to cover?
I go see Mike Hayes play at BB’s every single week — he is the TRUTH! The day Jason Momoa showed up, apparently they’re old friends, I just about passed out from hyperventilating. Who knew Aquaman could play bass! Anyway, Mike did a cool medley and I found myself having to actively talk myself out of jumping up there with them when he started in on “Nobody Loves Me but My Mother”. I haven’t covered many BB songs, but I’ve always wanted to work something out for that one and, of course, “The Thrill is Gone”.
#BusinessCard #NashvilleSingerSongwriter #SessionSinger #BackUpSinger #NashvilleMusic If you were asked to do an elevator pitch, how would you describe yourself as an artist?
You’ll find my music to be soulful, lyric centric, genre bending, and full of heart. I put everything I’ve got into every show, every time. Expect a blend of jazz, soul, blues, and roots, including country roots!
Making a demo cover of “Put Your Records On” to post on TikTok. The duet with Niko Moon that he never knew he did. How else can aspiring artists use social media platforms to reach out to others in the industry?
You know, I’m still learning the ropes myself. Before I knew I was moving to Nashville I deleted all of my social media accounts. In my hometown there was no need for it and I was not at all trying to “break out” and be somebody. I was so ready to be done with the insidious nature of social channels! But after moving to Nashville, unexpectedly, I quickly realized that being here was a blessing and I couldn’t waste the opportunity. How’s a singer gonna live in Nashville and not sing?! I started researching the new wave of music in Nashville back in June. By watching the rise of artists like Andrew Jannakos and Priscilla Block I realized that social media is the most powerful tool that independent musicians have to build a fan base. So, I started all new channels on Twitter, Insta, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, SoundCloud, and ReverbNation. Since they are all brand new I really need support to get them going! Come, follow me!
There is a mural in Nashville with the following: Girls with dreams become women with vision. Everything you can imagine is real. What did you first think of when you saw it?
My little heart grew three times that day. I’m not joking, I teared up a little bit! Listen, I’m 37 years old. I never imagined I would even have the opportunity to realize my dream of being a professional singer. Seeing that mural inspired me to get started and take my dream seriously. It’s already real.
“Loving the skin I’m in for the first time in my life. Better late than never!” What was the turning point for you?
Coming to Nashville was the turning point. Looking around and seeing women, beautiful women, of all shapes, sizes, and colors, dressed to impress regardless of size… you didn’t see that in Fort Collins. I’m mixed, my skin is light but my blood is not. My body is not built like a white woman’s body. My grandmother gave me African bone structure, my grandfather gave me German strength. My Puerto Rican ancestors gave me curves in places that aren’t typically curved. In my hometown, not one single show went by where someone didn’t let me know that I’m fat. Not one. I can’t tell you how many times people said stuff to me or about me, just because I was walking down the street and they weren’t attracted to me. Here… ain’t a thing. Here, I can walk with my tall curvy head held high.
…“I Like Your Jeans” started as a joke among my girlfriends, but it grew into a bigger conversation about whether or not women should make the first move when they meet a man that they’re attracted to. I realized that I had never once hit on a stranger like that and I really wanted to get to the bottom…
It is not your job to be sexually attractive to everyone on earth. In fact, there are many, many people who think you are attractive — but they don’t have the strength to live that truth with you. This is not your fault. You are born with an inalienable right to your own body — you don’t owe your body to anyone, ever. You make your body look however you want it to look. That’s the end of that.
“I like your jeans, I like my floor littered with them, I like your eyes held on me.””I Like Your Jeans” is your first original release. Can you describe the day you co-wrote the song with Ben Sailors and Marshall Smith?
We gathered with a small group of co-writers at Marshall’s house to start turning poems I had written into songs. Marshall sat at his keys, Ben was on guitar, and I laid in the middle of the floor with poems scattered all around me. When I picked up the poem that would become “I Like Your Jeans” and started reading, Marshall immediately whipped around to face his keys and he had the melody in about 60 seconds, no joke. Ben picked it up and started filling out the guitar parts and within 15–20 minutes we had a song!
Produced by Ben Sailors. Photo shoot with Olivia Dixon. What were some of the unique challenges releasing “I Like Your Jeans” in a new town during a pandemic?
Well, Ben and I have been making music together for many years. He actually moved to Nashville first, so finding a producer wasn’t much of a challenge! Finding other professionals to work with along the way has been a challenge in terms of not being able to physically network with people in person and get to know them first. But, that’s where social media came in. Olivia has the most fun and creative social channels, the second I saw her stuff I knew I had to work with her. I have found every single person I’ve worked with the last few months either through Ben or through social media. Honestly, making music doesn’t require a bunch of people in a room together — even though it is sometimes more fun that way!
Jennifer Lauren’s RETRO Revival at Fat Kat Slim’s was your first ever Nashville gig. What was on the set list?
So many classics! I really wanted to honor the spirit of the venue, so we are doing a variety of music that has that retro sound. Including covers of artists like Elvis, Patsy Cline, Etta James, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash and many more! The whole set list is up on my Spotify. There are three Jennifer Lauren’s… I’m the one having a cocktail in my cover photo.
Good eats in Nashville like Butchertown Hall. Any other restaurant recommendations for visitors?
Working on your fitness at OrangeTheory Nashville. What songs are on your workout playlist?
That’s what I use my Big V Energy playlist for, also up on my Spotify! Got some Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Amy Winehouse… it’s eclectic.
You posted that Evins Mill has been your favorite Nashville experience to date. Were you able to swim in their private waterfall?
Yes! There was hardly anyone there when we went. It was so beautiful… I think I had a spiritual experience just floating and staring at the sky with the sound of the waterfall pounding down behind me. I had never been to anything like that before and I will be going back for a private songwriting weekend. The whole grounds are just lovely.
Discovering more about Nashville by geocaching with your son. What did you learn about Music City on your exploration?
Lots of unexpected history, like the story behind Litton High School (which is not a high school), and where the ferry used to dock in Inglewood before it was moved (great fishing spot), and how much seven miles of highway cost taxpayers here (over $100,000,000)! All without leaving East Nashville.