WiMN presents, #WisdomWednesday!
Today, we bring you some wise words from half of the Soap Box Duo. Jenesiais a singer-songwriter who fell in love with music at a young age. Since then, she continued to pursue her passion which lead to performing in multiple bands. More recently, she graduated from music school— where she met her husband and future band member! Alexander and Jenesia are what make up the Soap Box Duo, and continue to inspire those who have the privilege to see them with an exciting stage presence and motivational lyrical content. But, all of this didn't fall into place right away. Jenesia's story shares how trial and error, years of dedication, and seeing the "bigger picture" can help you persevere and conquer your goals.
WiMN: At what age did you know that music was indeed your passion?
Jenesia: As a young child I had a definite passion for performing. I loved to sing, dance, act and write. I started writing lyrics and melodies before I could play any instrument. It wasn’t until my teen years though that I realized that God had given me these desires and talents for a purpose. Discovering this purpose has been an empowering and almost frightening journey. Purpose is the greatest fuel for passion. I believe that purpose can be unearthed where the deep stirrings of your heart and the great injustices of the world collide. Music has been this incredible communication tool that has afforded my words a place in the hearts and minds of listeners. As I sing, I feel this deep connection with the music and with those who are venturing to tune into the sound.
WiMN: You were in a few bands before "Soap Box Duo" was formed. Do you think experimenting in other genres and performing with multiple bands can be an important part of creating an artists "sound"? In what way did those bands help get you where you are today?
Jenesia: I absolutely believe that each opportunity has shaped my/our “sound”. Musical theatre taught me projection, solo pop music taught me confidence, being part of a choir taught me vocal harmony and blend, playing and leading church bands taught me about the art of musical arrangement and being part of a 7-piece rock band showed me the power of collaborative writing and the ecstasy of a dynamic live show. I would say that the relationships I built in Aphesis, and the season of life we lived through together, played a significant role in molding the person I am today.
WiMN: Coming from those who just met or heard of you, your story makes sense. Before Soap Box fell into place, you grew up pursuing different opportunities that lead you to where you are today. But I'm sure, at the time of the end of your first couple bands/projects, you felt unsure what to do next. How did you triumph through any feelings of self-doubt?
Jenesia: The presumed, or actual, end of any venture can be very disconcerting. This is the reason I believe that it is so significant to determine one's "why” when pursuing any career, let alone one in a field as unpredictable as the music industry. For me, though at times I have felt discouraged, unmotivated and defeated, I have been able to recover by knowing that I am called to make a difference in the world. I tell Alexander often that I get tempted to live someone else’s life. My mind will entertain thoughts of the security a regular job would afford. Securities like regular pay, medical benefits and a corporate ladder I could possibly climb. But he helps to remind me that the grass is always greener in someone else’s field and that each person faces their own barriers along the way. It’s not far into my pity parties that I remember the realities of the injustices that drive me to move forward. That’s when I try to regroup and get focused on the “why” and modify my method to achieve that. An example of a “why” that keeps me motivated is the desire to prevent and reduce, if not eradicate, child sexual abuse.
WiMN: Throughout high school, you taught music and performed at many music venues. Afterwards, you decided to embark on a new journey and attend music school. At what point did you decide this was the right direction to move towards? What inspired that decision? Were you nervous?
Jenesia: My decision to attend MacEwan Universities music program was the realization that I did not possess the skill-set required to further my music career. I wanted a better understanding of music theory, greater vocal accuracy and tonal color and greater efficiency in chart writing/scoring. Most of all though, I wanted to network with other local musicians who shared the same goal of pursuing music professionally. Who knew I’d even meet my husband there?
WiMN: Looking back at your time spent at music school, what was your biggest gain? Would you suggest aspiring musicians to consider schooling?
Jenesia: Alexander would certainly be the greatest gain! All jokes aside though, I would say that being in a melting pot of talent was a significant gain. The environment was challenging, humbling and exhausting all at the same time. Post-secondary schooling is not the best environment for all learners so I would have to make case-by-case recommendations but have suggested that a few of my current students plan to audition for school.
WiMN: Recently, you played a packed CD release concert with a full band and a crowd full of applauding fans! As a musician myself, this is any artists dream. But of course, it took lots of dedication to get to this point. What kept you positive through the "no's" and "cants" of the music industry?
Well, we were just a few tickets short of selling out but it was certainly a great CD release! The behind the scenes preparation for these events is always a ton of work. There were a few roadblocks that we encountered and I had a couple of nights of frustration, but it was such a rush to see all our hard work come together. Thank you, Sarah, for adding your magic to the mix that night! We were blessed to have you!
WiMN: What advice would you give aspiring singer-songwriters who want to take their passion and create it into a career?
Jenesia: I get the privilege of talking with aspiring artists through the music community and through our music business Music With Purpose. My advice is usually individual specific. My goal is to encourage musicians to be people of character as a foundation for their music endeavors. Anyone can practice their 10, 000 hours and be skillful masters of an instrument. I believe skill is only a part of the package. Each pathway in the music industry will differ as well. Some would do well to record videos online, others need to get more stage practice and some need to develop a brand. That being said, I would suggest that any aspiring singer/songwriter seek out musicians who have had a measure of success in the music industry, share their personal vision, level of skill and accomplishments and then ask them for creative ideas on where to go from there!
In life, many unforeseen events fall into our lives and leave us a little bit confused. In the music industry especially, as independent artists we are constantly facing the ups and downs. But as each puzzle piece comes together, we then realize how important those events were to our growth! Jenesia's story shows us that every turn in her music journey led to a new opportunity that brought her to where she is today: married with her band-mate, packing concerts venues, and a whole lot of wisdom for what is to come next. Thank you, Jenesia!
This #WisdomWednesday was brought to you by Sarah Command from The Command Sisters.