Helping music lovers find new acts to obsess over is kind of our thing. With so many emerging artists to choose from, we wanted to let you, the fans, in on who’s going to be everywhere soon. That's why we're excited to announce Big Break, a new feature that highlights everything you need to know about the fresh faces turning the industry upside down. From the secrets behind their viral tracks to their big plans for the future, read on for the 411 on the industry's most promising up-and-comers.
The musical strands of country and pop have found a fresh, robust voice in Jade Helliwell. Hailing from West Yorkshire, England, the singer-songwriter has two buoyant EPs to her name, 2016’s Forget The Night and last year’s Infatuation, both of which showcase her contemporary updates to country’s signature sass and spirit. Just cue up songs like “Boom Tick” or “Forget The Night,” compositions equally indebted to Dolly Parton as much as Taylor Swift, for the full breadth of Helliwell’s rootsy timbres, heartfelt lyrics, and downright irresistible choruses.
Those efforts have not gone unnoticed. Besides scoring radio plays and prime chart positions, Helliwell has swept up accolades from UK Country Radio’s 2017 Artist of the Year to British Country Music Award’s 2017 UK Female Vocalist. Already riding on a high, in May last year, she went out one night in Leeds and spontaneously joined a street performer, Dawid Osial, in a rendition of “Hallelujah.” The resulting video was a smash hit, racking up millions of views on Facebook and YouTube, sending Helliwell's EPs back into the charts, and raising her already gleaming profile.
And she’s only just begun. Helliwell is now prepping the release of “Drive,” her latest number that she describes as “a fun, catchy track that gives the listener a strong visual.” Can’t wait to hear it? Well, you’re in luck. The song premieres exclusively right here and now. Listen in below, and keep reading for our chat with Helliwell about her love for country, that one night out in Leeds, and why Patsy Cline rules.
Congrats on the brand new “Drive,” Jade. How does the track evolve musically from your earlier songs on EPs Infatuation and Forget The Night?
This new song is my favourite to date. It’s a lot more modern country-sounding than anything I’ve released before. I love the production on this track and hope everyone else will too.
Tell us about your recent trip to Nashville, the country music mecca. What lessons did you pick up there?
I loved my trip to Nashville! I learnt that everybody has the potential to impact your life and career in some way. I did my first write with a complete stranger on that trip, so I learned to enter co-writes with confidence and believe you deserve to be in the room.
Also, what are your experiences working with and within the British country scene? What inspires you about the scene and its artists?
I’ve learnt that the artists/writers and musicians on the UK scene are all passionate. We all want the scene to grow here in the UK. Also, how eager everyone is to collaborate. You don’t get that a lot of other genres.
Tell us about the first time you ever laid ears on a country song. What excited you about it? What about it made you think, “I want to do that too”?
I grew up listening to Dolly Parton’s well known songs and Shania Twain but that’s as far as my country knowledge went as a child/teen. When I was about 16, Taylor Swift released her first album and as soon as I heard her song “Tim McGraw,” I was hooked on her music. I realised that was the genre I wanted to be a part of. I love the storytelling aspect of country music. I also love a good heartbreak song and this is THE genre to find those kind of tunes!
We love the Patsy Cline shout-out on “Numb.” What are some other country artists that were foundational for you, and why?
Ah, thanks! I love Patsy Cline; I think she’s one of the best vocalists to have lived. Other artists in country who were a foundation were Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. As mentioned earlier, they were the artists who I first discovered in this new country scene.
Country music is such an intensely personal form as well. What influences your own songwriting? And what do you hope listeners take away from your music?
It is, yes, and that’s one of the things country fans love about the genre. My influences come from my life, day to day or relationships and friendships. Sometimes an idea sparks from something someone has said to or around me. Sometimes it’s the stories of those around me. I would hope people take away that I’m a writer and not just a singer, I hope they find my stories relatable and therefore find me relatable.
Your spontaneous, moving performance of “Hallelujah” with busker Dawid Osial deserves revisiting. Tell us the story behind that performance.
That video literally changed my life. I’ll be honest: I was on a girls night out, few gins down when I saw Dawid! So that definitely influenced my decision to join him. My friends were the ones who asked if I could sing with him after we had stood and had a chat with him. I’m very thankful that he let me join him.
Speaking of which, name us your favourite country music duet, and tell us why.
I love the duets that are put together for awards shows. I love the duet Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson did of “Because Of You.” A recorded duet I love is Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis’ “I Told You So.” I love the song, but Carrie’s vocals on that song are incredible!
How has playing live shows influenced or changed the way you approach singing or songwriting?
It’s made me think about my writing process. If I know I want an upbeat song for a show, I will approach writing it as more of a catchy track and keep it shorter rather than writing a really long ballad.
What do you love most about performing or being on stage?
I just love the feeling of performing and people watching and enjoying it. It’s even better if people sing along to your songs—that is mind-blowing! I also love nothing more than when you hear a room drop silent during a big song.
What do you consider a Big Break?
To me, a big break is the chance to showcase your music and your performance to a wider audience, people who may never have heard of me in their life. Hopefully, I can get them to listen through a big break and bring them onboard with my music.