Hailing from Ontario, singer-songwriter Jacqui Verellen began singing at the age of five, and since then has won over 75 different vocal, acting, choral, dance and songwriting competitions. From a young age, Jacqueline has had a passion for music, spending time after school dabbling by ear, learning various instruments and taking any opportunity to enjoy it.
Operatically trained, Jacqui earned a degree in Opera Performance from the University of Western Ontario. She has played many Theatrical Canadian roles such as Fantine in Les Mis, Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and most recently Cinderella in Into the Woods. Now, Jacqui is ready to make her mark on the music world with the release of her debut single, "Home Is Home," a song that stresses the importance of home and family. Recently, Jacqui took some time to answer a few questions via email about her roots, "Home Is Home," and more.
It seems like you knew from an incredibly young age that you had a passion for music and wanted to pursue it professionally.
Yes! It came very naturally. It wasn't like anyone suggested I should sing or anyone told me I had to practice, I just really, REALLY loved it. I always wanted to perform, and when I couldn't, I'd just pretend to on my front porch. I think that was God's way of letting me know it was for me, because looking back, I remember myself as a little girl, and I say 'Yes. It's definitely what I've always had in my heart.' Whenever I have tough times, that sort of thought keeps me going strong!
You play various musical instruments including guitar, piano, ukulele, and flute. Did you begin writing at an early age as well?
Yes, I did. My parents have stored a bin of hundreds of songs I wrote at home. I found it really fun, (although wanted no one to ever see them,) and wrote about everything from crushes to life, to my view as a young girl. I think that practice that I did for fun, helped me to become a successful writer now.
That's wonderful they kept them!
What types of music were you exposed to as a child?
I was exposed to everything! Country, Classic Rock; I studied opera and theater, sang pop and jazz and everything else! I think that's why when you listen to my song, it's definitely country, but it has this blended indie feel too. I'm very happy about that, even though I used to be worried about it. I've realized being 100% me is the best way to make real honest music, and it's not a weakness, but rather adds a touch of individuality!
Being that you are operatically trained, what made you gravitate to country music?
I think again this was natural; I always wrote country songs while studying classic voice, it was the weirdest thing! I also love how relaxed and at home I felt singing country in comparison to feeling so technical with opera. The opera world is so (no offense) uptight! It all had to be so perfect and I wanna be able to stop worrying about technicalities and singing other people's music, and just write, in English, what I feel, and sing it exactly how I want to, with no rules! My voice has always been a little rough around the edges, and I want to be able to forgive myself for that and accept myself fully, and country 100% allows me to say, 'This is me, this is how I feel and how I sound and darn it I love it!' Not to say I don't work on improving my voice still, but I have no worries when something isn't cookie cutter, because it's just a part of me that makes my country music better and interesting!
What a terrific perspective.
“Home Is Home” is your debut single. Did you write it and can you tell the story behind the song and the moving lyric video?
I moved to Toronto a year ago to pursue what I love, and I grew up on a farm with my family, so as you can imagine Toronto was very hard on me for the first few months. When I visited home one day, I was looking through old photos, and I started to cry when I realized how much I missed my family. So I just started writing in the middle of the night and it all was very natural. Lucky for me the amazing Jeff Pardo helped me turn that idea into a polished piece. He is so talented, and helped me capture the details and visuals I truly see and feel at home. The photos in the video are my family (some from the box I browsed that evening!) It means a lot to me! But I am having a music video done this month, so that people can get a little more insight into it!
We'll definitely be on the lookout for that.
You travel to Nashville often, do you ever see yourself moving there?
I definitely do. It's hard because my life is here in Canada and my family and friends, and its also difficult now to be in the states very long, but I hope in the next year to take a month or two at least and stay in Nashville to get some work done. I'm saving currently for that! :)
What are your professional musical plans for 2017?
To finish up the music video, submit and keep playing festivals and shows this summer, and to get my next song in gear! I'm headed to Nashville again in August to get on the next song and I'm really excited to release another one in 2017! I want to have an EP in the next year also, but it's a timely and costly journey, so I'm being patient with myself.
In addition to keeping busy with music, you have a degree in Childhood Psychology and also run your own children's music business and teach a variety of arts, science, and other courses as a Preschool teacher. Would you like to touch on that a bit?
Yes! I minored in Childhood Psychology, and I've been working with kids since before my studies, I've nannied, taught at a preschool and teach music lessons to little ones now! I love the creative and unique minds that children have. Their energy is contagious, and teaching is also a passion I have that pays for my music! I have done princess parties on my own to make money, and designed a children's music theory group, in which I teach theory and instruments to children through games! Studying psych made me realize how many disorders, disabilities, differences, and special traits children have, and it inspired me to want to make music as engaging and easy to follow for children as possible!
Finally, is there one recent release that you cannot stop listening to and recommend others check out?
I love Shania's new song "Life's About To Get Good!" I'm so excited for her return into the music world, it's been a while, and I think the album is out in September! So I would suggest to anyone who wants a good tune, to try that one and to stay tuned for her big release! It's gonna be fun!
For more information on Jacqui visit her official website
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