Interview: Jade Helliwell talks when she first wanted to be a singer, musical influences, going to play in Australia, her favourite things and more

Jade Helliwell is no stranger to the UK country music scene. A favourite amongst fans alongside other great British artists who are Jade’s friends and inspirations, Jade has been touring the circuit for a number of years, appearing at Buckle and Boots, showcases, co headling shows and more recently Nashville meets London. 

Originally from Leeds, Jade Helliwell caught the attention of millions when a video of her singing a rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ alongside busker David Esial on a night out in Leeds was released. This video led to her album Forget The Night hitting number 1 on the UK iTunes Country charts and number 8 on the iTunes UK Albums charts. Jade won the British Country Music Award for Female Vocalist Of The Year in 2017 and this year has been nominated for a further 4 awards.

We caught up with Jade to discuss her amazing career, her music which includes her Infatuation EP, her rise to fame, soon to be tour in Australia and much more.

Interview

Hi Jade how are you?

I’m great thanks!

What have you been up to this week?

I had a great week, I went to watch Nashville live in Canterbury, played some acoustic shows in my local area, had a day at the spa and went to see Royal South.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your start in country music. Were you always a fan of country or did you dabble in other genres growing up?

I started dabbling in Country music when I was around 19/20 years old. I’d always listened to Shania Twain and Dolly Parton but that was as far as my country knowledge really went. I began listening to Taylor Swift’s first album and from that discovered more country artists I loved such as Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum. I was writing my own music by this point, so I think that naturally came through in my music. Other than Country I sang lots of the ballads from great vocalists such as Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Judy Garland.

Do you remember when you first wanted to be a singer?

When I think back to my childhood I can only remember me wanting to be a singer. It was all I did, always looking for the chance to perform for somebody whether that be putting on shows in my back garden or singing for the school dinner ladies! I was 9 years old when I first decided it was something I wanted to pursue after singing on Karaoke on a family holiday.

Who was your first ever musical influence, who did you love music wise growing up?

As a child I would say my favourite two singers where Celine Dion and Judy Garland. I loved their vocals and the big songs they’d take on. I used to try imitate their vocal runs ha.

What was the reaction from family and friends when you said you wanted to pursue a career in country music?

I’m lucky enough to have a really supportive circle of family and friends so the genre I went into was never an issue. They all still come to my shows and buy my music and try promote me to people all the time so I’m really thankful for that.

Who are your influences now?

I still feel the influence from Celine Dion Vocally. I take inspiration from Maren Morris. Danielle Bradbery, Kelsey Ballerini a lot In my music.

You have just got back from Nashville, tell us about that trip.

My trip to Nashville was incredible. I met lots of amazing people out there. I managed to do some writing, played a showcase and then had a relaxing weekend at a lake house clean rating my birthday with friends.

What places did you enjoy going to?

It was great to see how Broadway has changed since my last visit over four years ago. I loved the Patsy Cline Museum. I had a lovely time at the lake house too. So relaxing and an eye opener to see a different part of Tennessee.

Tell us about playing Nashville meets London this year, how was that?

I have wanted to pay this festival for so long so to get the chance to play was amazing. I wasn’t sure if there would be many people there as I was opening the Saturday but to my surprise it was packed, and the response was incredible. I loved every second of it.

Who did you stay around to watch on stage?

Unfortunately I had to shoot off as I was playing FSA that evening, but I did manage to catch some of The Adelaide’s set which was brilliant!

Who is your dream collaboration?

I have so many! UK based I would love to write/perform a song with Laura Oakes. US I would love to duet with someone like Reba McEntire or Trisha Yearwood or, of course, Dolly Parton! I’d also love to sing with Chris Young, Blake Shelton , Kane Brown, Sam Hunt. I would love to write with Lori McKenna, Brandy Clark, Natalie hemby, Shane mcAnally, Kacey Musgraves, Liz Rose, Luke Laird, Jordan Shellhart, Kassi Ashton. So many more too!

Tell us about the busking video with David Esial. Did you ever expect it to do so well?

The busking video took me completely by surprise. I was just on a night out, got chatting to David, joined him for a song and went about my night. To wake up and find the video was going viral and get all these messages of support blew my mind.

Are you still in touch with David?

Briefly. I tracked him down on Facebook and booked him for a show but he had to pull out as he was going away. He’s back now and the last time we spot he was starting to record some original music so I’m looking forward to hearing that.

That video led to your album Forget The Night becoming number one on the UK country iTunes chart and number 8 on the all genre chart. That must have felt a bit mad?

Yes it was so bizarre given I had released it with a real push back in the previous October. It was great to see people enjoying the music though.

Did you go out and celebrate?

Yes on the day it hit number one I went for food and drinks with my friends and the following day we had a party at my cousins with friends and family and I live streamed it all on Facebook and sang lots of songs. It was a lot of fun.

Tell us a little bit about that album and who you worked with on it, the meaning of the album and anything you wish to share?

Forget The Night’ was produced by Justin Johnson. We wrote three of the songs on the EP together too. It was a collection of fun, country/pop songs about love, loss and drinking!

Since then you have released the Infatuation EP. Tell us about that and the growth from the previous album and if you feel you have grown as an artist?

The growth from ‘Forget The Night’ to ‘Infatuation’ is pretty apparent when listening to the two EP’s. ‘Inatuation’ is a lot more pop/country. I took lots of influence from artists like Kelsey Ballerina and Danielle Bradbery.

What has it been like to first-hand witness the growth of country music in the UK as both a fan and an artist?

It’s been amazing. Each year we are seeing more artists come through, more festivals, more touring artists and more gigs from UK artists popping up. I think it’s a sign that the scene over here can only keep on growing and progressing and getting bigger and better than ever!

Who were some of the UK artists you knew and worked with first?

Yes I first met Toria Lynn when I was recording my first EP back in 2012. She played my launch event and we remained friends since, she was the first connection to the UK scene I made.

Tell us a little bit about this Grassroots competition – Firestone’s Road to the Main Stage

This competition is amazing. I am really proud to be the ambassador and part of Firestone’s journey as they support emerging talent on their road to the main stage. The competition is all about bringing musicians and music lovers together for great experiences, supporting emerging talent on the next step in their career with prizes such as live dates, a van for the year to get around to shows, equipment (orange amps), money towards studio costs and also the support from the Firestone team.

What is your favourite festival to play at and go as a fan?

I love Buckle and Boots as both a fan and an artist. It’s intimate enough to feel like you know everyone, but also has great music, great stall, a stunning setting and I always have the best weekend there. I also love C2C. I’ve only played once but I’ve been as a fan a few times. I just love how busy it is and how you discover so many artists from across the globe you may not have heard of. A lot of my favourites I discovered through C2C.

So…Australia huh? That is pretty damn cool. Tell us about joining the line-up, what the festival is, what you want to do there, see there etc.?

I am sooo excited ! I have never been before so I’m really looking forward to it. I am on a line up alongside incredible artists who I admire so it truly is an honour to be selected. I hope we play lots of shows and it’s all well received. I am excited for Tamworth. I hope to hold a Koala bear and not die from a spider bite!!

Do you know many Australian Country artists bar Keith and Morgan Evans?

Yes! I was lucky enough to meet to amazing Australian artists who lay Buckle and Boots. Hayley Jenson and Kirsty Lee Akers.

If you see Karl Kennedy can you say hi from me?

I’ll make a note! Haha

Ok, so, let’s find out about you…

All-time favourite TV show?

So many! Nashville/Vampire Diaries/ One Tree Hill/ Greys Anatomy/ Ghost Whisperer/Medium/Pretty Little Liars- is that cheating? Ha

All-time favourite food?

Chocolate! Proper food-Fajitas

All-time favourite Album?

Tough question! One of my favourites EVER- Taylor Swift-Fearless

All-time Favourite movie?

Gypsy (The Bette Midler Version)

Do you have any pets?

I had 5 cats but now I have none! I need a kitty

Well thanks so much for chatting today. Hope to see you soon and look forward to more of your journey.

Thanks so much for chatting to me!

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