One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I love to play music. I’ve been playing and singing for about half of my life, yet only a handful of people have seen me “perform”. This is due primarily to my stage fright, anxiety, and lack of confidence. Somehow, a room with sleeping cats is far less intimidating than a place full of people. This year I have been branching out with my music using social media to gain feedback from complete strangers in hopes that I can try out an open mic, record a full song, and feel like the musician I am on the inside to the rest of the world.
It started when I was a 14-year-old girl admiring the many pop punk stars that were plastered on my bedroom walls. What I would have given to hop on stage and sing with the Madden brothers in Good Charlotte, or whip a mic rope around with Adam Lazzara. I begged my parents to let me get a guitar and learn to play. A hand-me-down acoustic from a friend kicked off my dream. When my mother saw me holed up in my room one day self-teaching posture and technique (and Christmas jingles), she realized I was serious. She scored a guitar lesson package at my school’s auction and off I went into pseudo-rock stardom. I ended up falling in love at each lesson with not only the music, but learning new styles and skill sets along the way. The studio eventually hired me to teach younger children how to play, as I advanced in my own lessons with the studio manager. Sadly, I took off to college out of state so I had to leave the Music Box, but I continued my lessons in Jersey at school. I was learning to fingerpick and read sheet music that resembled drunk hieroglyphics. I was really becoming a talented musician, stylistically and technically. The one thing I was too shy to do was test out my voice against my guitar playing.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself back in Boston to finish out college, moving into a Brighton apartment and living on my own for the first time at age 22. My roommate was not moving in for a few months, so I had the whole one-bed split to myself during the winter of 2009. In between school, making new friends, trying my hand at online dating, and surviving on ramen, I decided to lay down a few tracks of cover songs I enjoyed. I slapped some vocals and guitar together in GarageBand as best as I knew how (not very well) and threw the tracks up on MySpace (here I go showing my age). Coincidentally after, I started dating a musician and he revealed that he listened to my Cobra Starship cover every night before bed because he loved it so much. Creepy? Hell no. That was the gateway to me believing that I actually didn’t sound like a fork in a garbage disposal (an Uncle Jesse reference I have always loved).
Fast forward a few more years and I found myself living in a huge, 2-floor apartment outside the city with too many rooms and not enough furniture. The dining room we didn’t even know existed when we checked out the place remained unfinished, considering we ate most meals on the couch like true 20-somethings. The best part about this was the incredible acoustics this room created, as well as a space to set up my PA and really jam out the way I’ve always wanted to. In order to loosen up, I would bring a glass wine with me while I practiced my favorite songs. This ended up turning into a habitual thing, eventually finding myself comfortable enough to record a video, eventually ending up on Instagram and Facebook.
#JillWineCovers was born. I use the hashtag to categorize all my videos on Instagram so people can find them easily, and also because I’m so edgy in the year 2014 (no.). At this point, I’ve received a lot of feedback from friends, family, and complete strangers about how they’ve enjoyed my covers. It feels even more awesome when those comments come to you in real life (from other musicians who you admire). It feels even more surreal when your best friend sends you a video of your godson eating lunch, then hearing your cover on Facebook and smiling and dancing happily to your voice (yes, I cried). So here I am now, looking to branch past 15 seconds of song and lay down a full version on YouTube, SoundCloud, and somewhere IRL that serves alcohol so I can avoid fainting upon arrival. I hope you’ll support me in endeavors, as this has been one of the hardest confidence barriers to overcome. Here’s a taste, and you can tell me what you think. Hope to see you soon jamming out somewhere!