The presence of up and coming female artists in Nashville is breath taking. Even though Jara Ward is fairly new to town, she is already making waves by showcasing her songwriting ability in her debut single. I sat down with Jara and talk about her tear-jerker of a single "Mountain Man", her moving from Montana to Nashville and her most embarrassing moment that you definitely don't want to miss out on.
Get To Know Jara
"I was born in California and actually moved to Montana when I was 7. My dad got a job up there so we just packed up everything and moved. I got a lot of core memories from California, being surrounded by both sides of my parents family lived there. I was very family oriented and leaving that to go to Montana was tough, but a lot of my mom's family actually lives up there. I think not having my dad's side and my grandma and 5 cousins, we did everything together so not having them around anymore was a shock. Living in Montana I started to develop great relationship with the family I had up there. That's really when I was raised and where I call home and that's where my family still lives.
I have always loved music and I think that really started in California, someone has a video of me when I was 3 and I was in the shower just chillin' and I'm singing "Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson, like the full song. My mom said that I used to sing in my sleep so that's super weird. I've always just loved everything about music. So when we were little, we had a piano so me and my sister would play and when we got to Montana we had a keyboard and a guitar and I would just play nonsense all the time. That was a daily thing, I bet it sounded terrible and I just played anything, but I was jamming and I loved it. At the age of 12 I had like a "mid life crisis"... that's what I call it. I told my mom, "I don't know what I want to do?", because my sister was really into writing and teaching and she kind of knew what she wanted to do and what her passion was. My one friend really wanted to be a doctor, everyone around me had their thing and I was freaking out because I didn't have "my thing". I told my momI had to sign up for piano lessons because that was the one thing that I knew I wanted to do so I went and explored that. And now I've played piano for about 12 years.
I started babysitting to make money and I was like "okay, I love teaching and have always been good with kids, and I love music so I'm going to put those things together and become a music teacher!". And that's not what happen, I went to school for teaching and we went in to a school for a student teaching day and I found out exactly what my day to day life would be like and I knew I didn't want it. I went to college for a year and a half and on the side just decided to start writing for myself. I took a break from school to work and make music and a year went by and I really did nothing besides work and I was so excited because I was making money.
I've always known I wanted to live in Nashville, and a year ago there was really nothing holding me back so I got up and moved and here I am."
Nothing Like A Song That Puts You In Your Feels...
In Nashville, and in Country Music there are thousands of songs being written every week and often, no matter how good they are you get a lot of the same ideas and hooks recycled. But GOLLY, for a debut single Jara Ward hits this one out of the ballpark with such a fresh and unique idea. "Mountain Man homage to her great uncle. Jara showcases her top notch songwriting and by the end of the song I feel like I know this man. A calming production by Heath Bennett that really pulls you in and makes you experience each line and verse to the max. I'm a sucker for deep personal songs and this will have you will a little tear rolling down your face, a damn good one.
Inspiration Behind "Mountain Man"
Written By: Jara Ward & Steve Thomas, Produced By: Heath Bennett
"Mountain Man was actually written over FaceTime. I wrote it with Steve (Thomas) and I was house sitting for my nanny family that week and Steve was driving back to Ohio to visit his family. He had like a 7 or 8 hour drive ahead of him from Nashville and it was a Friday night. I ended up taking my guitar and I was playing, and I had an idea in the shower and I called him to ask what he thought and at this point we are like writing partners. We had written a handful of songs and at this point we just clicked. So I asked him if he wanted to write this song while he was driving so we did and that song was called "Water Tower Town" and we got done within like two hours and we loved the song and I told him "listen I got another idea, but I'm not going to tell you because you are going to want to write it". And even though he said he didn't want to write it once I explained my idea and he wanted to write it. Once he got home he got settled we continued writing and he was asking so many questions about my great uncle who this song is about and to the point where he felt like he knew him. Steve really helped bring this song to life. I was talking to Heath Bennett produced it and he really made the song come to life so a big thank you to him."
Q & A With Jara Ward
Q: What was that "light bulb" moment that you knew you wanted to pursue music?
A: "I've just always known that music was what I was supposed to be doing, but it wasn't until I was comfortable in my job and personal life in Montana that I knew I was going to move to Nashville, but said that to myself for a while and questioned it, until I built up the confidence enough to say to myself that pursuing music in Nashville was an attainable goal. I've been wanting to pursue music my entire life I just really never knew where to start. I always played, but never was really proactive with it. Once I realized I was pretty good at songwriting by myself and that I could get better at it, and my songs actually made a difference in people's lives, that's what I want when it comes to my career in music. When I got here i had the mindset of whether I'm the one singing the songs or someone else, I just want to make a change in someone's life the way that music has been able to do that for me. I think I really figured all of that out right before I moved to Nashville."
Q: What was it like moving from Montana to Nashville?
A: "Moving Montana I thought that I lived in like the "city", I definitely did not. When I moved I was very overwhelmed and I told my mom that I was moving and that I found my roommates on Facebook Marketplace and applied for jobs, like it was so easy, I could have done it 2-3 years ago when I started talking about it. I'm so glad I waited because every move I've made just has reassured me Nashville is where I belong. There was so many people here and it was a mixture of excitement and nerves. I started my job right away so it was good that I was busy between music and having a job, and I'm very extroverted so there was no way in hell I was going to just wait around and make friends."
Q: What's one of your most embarrassing moments?
A: "I've blacked out for most of my embarrassing moments, but I will never forget my most embarrassing moment on stage. I was a freshman in high school playing at my first piano recital and piano camp and I get up on stage and this wasn't a jamming place where people are talking, if you breathed heavy everyone would hear you. I was already in my awkward phase and now I had to do a solo in front of everybody. I was so dang nervous. I get up there and my hands are sweating and I have this one page piece I'm playing and I literally start it and maybe within .001 seconds I screw it up and I replay it and I did this like 9 times and I was so embarrassed, all my family and friends are there and they are so excited and it was the worst moment of my life. Then I had the audacity to stop playing because I messed up so many times and look into the audience and say "I think I'm going to start over again". It was mortifying, I still think about it."
Q: If you could put together your dream concert, who would you have playing?
A: "Definitely Ashley McBryde, I had the chance to meet her and she's amazing, I take a lot of inspiration from her. Bad ass chick. The love of my actual life, Alan Jackson, if I was old I would marry him. He was one of the first Country Music artists that I listen to regularly. This is a weird one, but Post Malone. I would love to see him because his energy and the vibe would be the coolest thing on the planet. And I would just open for those three. So me, Ashley McBryde, Alan Jackson and Post Malone."