If you were to write an introduction for “Memphis Anymore” before it played on the radio, what would you want listeners to know about the single?

Memories are often tied to certain places. In this poetic statement, the place we are trying to avoid is Memphis, where memories were made, and love was lost. I’ll be fine as long as I stay far away from there. So, I don’t drive through Memphis anymore. 

“Memphis Anymore”

6 Things You Don’t Know About Me:

My favorite childhood toy was ___.

… basically not a toy, it was climbing trees.

The achievement I am most proud of is ___.

… my career as a country artist. There is not one thing during my career that I’m more proud of than any other. I’m proud of it as a whole. Navigating through a rough and confusing industry, demystifying and debunking what’s real and what’s fantasy, and then creating something heartfelt and true in the midst of that. That’s what I’m the most proud of.

Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?

Not so much a thing as an activity. I don’t think I can go a day without being creative in some way. Not necessarily with music, but with art, crafting, gardening, painting, doing projects. 

My friends would describe me as ___.

I was gonna go with “scatterbrained,” but I cheated and asked my friends… here’s what they said, “A hell of a force of nature who’s always got your back no matter what.” (LOL)

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?

1926. I love the style and the glamour of the 1920’s. 

If you could join any past or current music group, which would you want to join?

The Bangles. I loved the badassery of the all-girl rock band and I’d join in a heartbeat, even if it meant I had to perm my hair! LOL

Can you share 12 songs that have influenced your life and career?

“Wild One” Faith Hill 

I have to start with this song. This was the song that got me into country music. I had never heard country music like this before. I grew up in Denmark and there I was only introduced to traditional country and not much of it. When I was around 12 or 13, I was home from school with the flu, and I was watching CMT (a temporary channel in our cable package) and I just fell in love with this “New Country.” When I heard this song, I felt like she was singing about me!

“Vision of Love” Mariah Carey

Before country music entered my life, Mariah Carey drew me in. Her first few releases were so inspiring to me. I didn’t know anyone could sing like that. I, of course, tried my best to imitate, and it taught me a lot about how to phrase and do runs. But her songs also inspired me to write my own, dabbling in songwriting and exploring my musical creativity.

“Wild Again” Starship

I was obsessed with the soundtrack for the movie Cocktail. The whole collection of songs rocked my world as a pre-teen, and this song in particular has stuck with me. I have even considered covering it from time to time. It just drives the dreamer in me to always be wild and free. 

“Fun, Fun, Fun” The Beach Boys

I can’t just pick one song by the Beach Boys, their entire repertoire fascinated me. I grew up listening to these tunes, gripped by the harmonies and feel-good vibes. I loved this song in particular because of the rebel girl who just takes off in her daddy’s t-bird! Nothing delighted me more. 

“Ode To My Family” The Cranberries

As I became a teenager, my love for country music took more of a backseat to some of the more grungy and popular bands. The Cranberries were fascinating to me because their sound was so unique. Most people know “Zombie” and maybe “Linger,” but I’m choosing “Ode to My Family” because it also inspired my songwriting back then. Songs that no one ever really got to hear, but they inspired me, nonetheless.

“Redneck Woman” Gretchen Wilson

In 2004 I found myself back in the U.S. visiting. Keep in mind, in between visiting the U.S. and living in Denmark, I had no concept of what was going on in the world of country music. I found CMT and re-kindled my love for country music. After exploring every other genre in Denmark (grunge, punk, alt-rock, electronica, you name it) I circled back to country music and was introduced to a new concept. Kick-ass country women. Gretchen kicked down the door and I was hooked, again. 

“The Song Remembers When” Trisha Yearwood

I love the concept of this song, but the reason why it ended up on my list is because I sang it at a masterclass in Copenhagen in 2009. Bringing a country song into a masterclass for vocal performance like this was huge for me, it was me owning my love for country music, even if no one knew it, or understood, even if it wasn’t “cool.” I learned a lot during that masterclass, especially that country music is where my voice feels most at home.

“Just Around The Eyes” Faith Hill

This was the first time I noticed how differently country songs were written compared to pop songs. This song inspired me to look behind the scenes and dig out who actually wrote the song. Gary Burr’s clever lyrics and poetic build in this song inspired me to start writing my own country songs. It put me on the path as a songwriter, so to speak.

“Old Blue Chair” Kenny Chesney

The whole album, “Songs from An Old Blue Chair” (or “Be As You Are”), was on repeat on my iPod for years. I think somehow this album brought together my initial love for the beach vibes of both the Beach Boys and that Cocktail movie soundtrack with my love for country music. I also think I resonated with my need to look inward; this is what most of the songs on that album are all about. With “Old Blue Chair” being the pinnacle.

“My Favorite Mistake” Sheryl Crow

I had to put Sheryl Crow on this list. Her songs filled a gap between my love for country music and my love for rock music. I have always been drawn to the rock side of country and to the country side of rock. That’s where Sheryl Crow lives.

“Conquerors” Kirk Franklin & The Family

From 2007 to 2010 I was in a gospel choir in Denmark called “Conquerors,” named after this song. It was a very turbulent and transitional time for me and for my music. I was learning to own my voice again. Learning to sing properly. Learning how much music meant to me, and how detrimental it had been for me to shut it down. I sang lead in this song in the choir, and I even had the opportunity to sing it for Kirk Franklin himself.

Chattanooga Lucy” Eric Church

I first heard this song when Eric Church performed it on the CMA’s (I believe). The mixture of country music, rock music, and big gospel backing vocals inspired more than a few songs on my album “Warning Label.” Once again, the melding of two genres that had meant a great deal to me (the gospel sound and country music) united two of my loves in a unique way. I can’t get tired of this song.

Jessica Lynne Witty Website

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