There has to be something in the water in North Carolina, as the region as a whole has become synonymous with great music. With artists like: Little Brother, 9th Wonder, The Foreign Exchange, and Kooley High leading the pack, the region has always been a hub for great music.
Added to the list of great artists who call the region home is North Carolina native, Jeanne Jolly.
“I think that there’s a lot of creative support in North Carolina and there are a lot of opportunities to explore many different musical genres,” says Jolly of the state. “We have some really amazing jazz musicians generations back. You have different pockets of North Carolina that are able to develop on their own without too much outside influence just because they were influenced by what was around them. I think there’s a lot of originality in North Carolina.”
Jolly, who first caught attention singing background for legendary Jazz Musician Chris Botti, has an inviting and warm disposition and a beautiful soul that shines through when you speak with her. The singer who released her debut EP Falling in North Carolina (2010) to high praises based on the songwriting, has been singing her whole life. “My mom used to tell me that my first words were the Beethoven Symphony theme because I was listening to it in the car with my parents and apparently that was the first thing I said that made sense even though it wasn’t a word.”
After touring with Botti, Jolly returned home to North Carolina to focus more so on her music career. Sadly, five weeks after returning home to North Carolina, Jolly’s biggest fan and supporter, her mother, passed away of cancer. Using that negative point in her life to fuel her passion, Jolly started focusing more on songwriting and singing songs that truly came from the heart.
“I moved back to North Carolina and I came home to be with her. It all happened pretty fast. It kind of just changed my whole world, obviously. When I moved here, the positive focus for me came in a real dark time,” says Jolly. “I started taking guitar lessons and just trying to hone it in and focus on music that I loved.”
Jolly turned to her biggest musical comforts; jazz, old soul records that she grew up listening to, and 90’s country music. She also hooked up with Chris Boerner of The Hot at Nights. Boerner, and The Nights play alongside The Foreign Exchange producer Nicolay for his projects like Shibuya. Jolly’s work with Boerner also leads to how she hooked up with The Foreign Exchange for their Dear Friends: An Evening With The Foreign Exchange DVD, as well as joined them on the road for their Authenticity tour.
“Chris is actually how I met The Foreign Exchange. He plays guitar with them. We were working on Falling in Carolina and they were on the road somewhere in Texas and he was like hey guys, you should listen to this girl. I’m producing her record in Raleigh. For some reason, Phonte and Nicolay really liked it and asked me to sing on their DVD and to go on tour just to fill in for somebody,” explained Jolly. “I kind of stepped in there in a room full of amazing The Foreign Exchange fans feeling the love. It was an amazing experience. I had never felt anything like that. Now, here I am and The Foreign Exchange is putting out my record. It’s just kind of a blessing unfolding ever since I moved back here.”
The singer just released her debut album Angels. The project, which was first introduced via lead single “Sweet Love,” was exclusively produced by Boerner and written by Jolly. The album is an eclectic effort showcasing Jolly’s great writing and diverse ear. The album title was created to pay homage to the angels within Jolly’s life, notably her mother.
“Every song on the album is inspired by an angel, a story about one or alludes to the presence of one. I thought let’s just name it Angels. It does speak to every song on the record,” says Jolly. “I started this song writing journey really focusing on it after the passing of my mom who was my biggest fan. She knew I was going to try to write and really encouraged me to do that, but she never got to see me play a show of my own songs. That was something she never got to see. I always feel like this journey is so heavily inspired and guided by her as well.”
From listening to this album, Jolly’s angel, her mother, will be smiling from heaven over the great project her daughter has created. Make sure to support Jolly, and purchase her album Angels, out now via The Foreign Exchange Music. Purchase album here. Also, be sure to check Jolly out on tour with The Foreign Exchange coming to a city near you. Check out dates here.