If the music business were poker, singer-songwriter Jessica Sonner would be holding a straight flush. Her sound is a polished, accessible blend of pop, country and blues influences, and she's blessed with a powerful, sultry voice that helps elevates her songs. It doesn't hurt that she's also a classic beauty with girl-next-door charm and an easy laugh. Complementing these natural assets, she graduated from college with a degree in music business. In the short time she's been back in Denver since leaving eight years ago, she's recorded an album, put together a promising backing band and generated a pretty healthy buzz. We caught up with Sonner during a brief break from touring to ask about her inspiration and plans for the future.
Westword: Have you been able to apply what you learned in school to your career?
Jessica Sonner: Definitely. I think the reason I went with that degree was I just liked all the classes. You should like what you do. When I got out, everybody was going to Nashville, L.A. or New York and trying to find a job with a label or a management company or whatever. I was like, "Well, I'm going to try my hand at songwriting." It's been really good. Probably the best thing somebody told me once was nobody's going to work harder for you than you. Having the education I had, I figured, let's go for it.
CD-release show, with Jen Korte and the Loss and Aaron Espe, 8 p.m. Saturday, April 5, Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 East First Avenue, $8-$12, 303-366-0007.
How long have you been writing songs and performing?
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It goes way back for me. I started playing piano when I was in probably second grade. Mom always made us take piano lessons. I remember writing poetry and lyrics in junior high instead of taking notes. Those are probably my earliest memories of that. I didn't really put it together until my freshman year of college, [when] I started writing. I never played out until my junior year.
In your liner notes, you thank God in some depth. Is that an important part of your life and music?
It definitely is. I grew up in a church-going, God-fearing home; that's a huge part of who I am. I think that church and Christianity and God means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. You know, lyrically, I don't call myself a Christian artist, but I definitely am. I like to write in a way that people can relate to and apply in their lives. Religion means so many different things to everybody, depending on their experience. I like to write for universality — is that a word? — just stuff that anybody can relate to whether they are a person of faith or not, stuff that has hope and a message to it. It's not a Christian album, by any means, but there definitely is a background of that for me, and you can tell in the words if you are looking for it.