10 Questions with ... Jamie O'Neal
December 2, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Since the release of her debut album in 2000, Jamie O'Neal has been impacting country music with her soulful voice and the immense amount of passion behind every word she sings. O'Neal became a household name with her single, "There Is No Arizona," which set her path to stardom on fire with multiple No. 1 hits and many career accolades to follow, including four Grammy nominations. As she enters into another year in her illustrious career, O'Neal finds herself venturing into new territory as she launches her new independent record label, Momentum Label Group. While O'Neal will serve as the label head, she will also produce music for some of the label's roster. She has a strong team surrounding her, including her father - veteran music industry great Jimmy Murphy, who has been hands on with his daughter from age eight when she began singing with her family. She has toured with Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Alan Jackson and Toby Keith, and has landed songs on the soundtracks of Bridget Jones' Diary and When We Were Soldiers, as well as on the ABC smash Desperate Housewives. O'Neal has appeared on numerous national television programs, including multiple appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Show with David Letterman, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and many others. With the beginnings of this new chapter in her career, O'Neal looks forward to continuing to make an impact on the world of country music through many musical facets.
1) Congratulations on starting your own record label! When did you decide that you wanted to launch a label and why?
About a year ago we launched after being approached by many young girls who wanted guidance and advice on record deals etc., which aren't that easy to get these days as more and more labels are closing down. Rachele Lynae just stood out as an exceptional talent both as a singer and a songwriter. It just made sense after we started working together to take the next step in launching her career. My goal with the label is to grow it and find those special artists out there who deserve a shot at their dreams.
2) How do you balance being both an artist and a businesswoman?
I think when you're creating music whether it's for yourself or someone else you're thinking with your heart and going with your gut. When you're doing business it's definitely your brain you're thinking with. I am not a good multi- tasker. I like to focus on one thing at a time. If I'm on a conference call discussing radio adds or ideas, I can not be writing a song. Scheduling is so important because you have to set aside time for it all and switch hats. Sometimes as a Mom, a wife and with my different jobs I feel like Cybil (the Sally Field character with multi-personalities).
3) When you broke into your career as an artist, you were on Mercury Records, a major label-what are the benefits to an artist, being with an independent company?
When I got my first record deal it was the most exciting time of my life! Of course since getting married and having a baby it is now a distant third for sure. I am so new to having an indie label that it's hard to say yet what we can do and where it will take us. I've had experience with some of the best people in the business from Keith Stegall to Mike Dungan to the day to day people in marketing and A&R and I've learned so much. Being a much smaller label you really have to prove your staying power and think outside the box. We look at social media strategies and marketing in a much different way then 10 years ago when it was all about radio. Radio's power is still very evident but the fans can discover new artists for themselves now on the internet. An artist being on an indie means they have a little more creative control as well and they don't have toline up behind 15 other acts at the same time.
4) How has your dad, Jimmy Murphy influenced your new venture?
My Dad is the reason this whole new venture came to be. When I read the Taylor Swift article in Rolling Stone magazine she said her Dad had visions of her success and big dreams for her and I relate to that. My Dad has always been a dreamer and is always concocting new plans. He grew up with a guitar in his hand and has always made a living playing music. He loves music with a passion and does what he does for all the right reasons, his love of it. I grew up believing I could do anything, be anything I wanted and my Dad and Mom are the reason for that. My Dad really keeps up with the latest trends too and reads all the blogs, etc. He's a country music aficionado, if you will!
5) Is dad one of the major reasons that you were drawn to the business in the first place?
Watching my parents sing every night and my Dad always playing guitar and writing songs made me want to sing as well. I wanted to show them what I could do and at 8 I nagged them until they let me go on with them one night. I've been singing ever since.
6) Your first signing was Rachele Lynae, as your flagship artist-will you be signing many others and what in particular do you look for?
I hope to find, develop and put out many new artists I find out there, absolutely! It's certainly time consuming. Rachele is the number one priority right now and then we will look at the next project. I really look for that special "it" factor. Taylor had it when I met her at 14 and spent time with her. It's just a special spark, the way someone carries themselves and can engage you when they're performing. Dedication is also key because it's not easy to make it, and if you don't love it and your stomach doesn't ache to perform, then forget it. I won't waste my time if I see someone who isn't ready to work and work hard. This business takes sacrifice but it's worth it. Once you sing to a crowd and they're singing your lyrics along with you, that's the greatest gift and all your hard work has been worth it.
7) You have had your songs cut by many great artists, such as Reba, Martina and others-is has to be very gratifying when a great artist wants to sing something you have written-how does that feel?
The most amazing thing that has happened to me that I wasn't even expecting would have to be having some of my favorite singers record my songs. Wow, it blows me away when I hear Martina or Reba sing my songs. And, Cece Winans recorded one of my songs on her Grammy-winning Gospel album and boy, was that a thrill!
8) Are you still writing a lot and when will you record again?
I am always writing and I love it. Rachele and I co-wrote 5 of the songs on her cd and it's been so much fun! We have a ball laughing and hanging out. I do plan on new music it's just a matter of when. WHEN I know I can focus on it and not be distracted by my other hats so to speak!
9) There are some great artists who are writing and recording songs on their own, as well as helping new artists-Toby Keith and Jack White come to mind. Has there been anyone in particular that influenced you to do the same?
Toby Keith definitely inspires me. I love his camaraderie and the way he supports other artists. Hey, we're all in this together and if we can help others along the way all the more gratifying to me. Toby took me on tour early in my career and was so sweet and caring on the road, as was Kenny Chesney and Reba. I've been so lucky to get to tour and learn from some of the greats. Reba is so smart and so diverse and I love the way she's not afraid to try ANYTHING!
10) What artists from the Country world and other genres influenced you growing up?
Growing up I loved Dolly, The Gatlins (boy can Larry sang!), Crystal Gayle (I always wanted to swing my hair like her)- I also was really into Tina Turner, her energy and passion made me want to try those dance moves and wear those blingy gowns ha! As I got into my teenage years Amy Grant was my one and only. I loved the way she told her stories and sang so simply with her guitar. As one reviewer in People magazine said "Amy Grant is to the spiritual world what Madonna is to the material world"
And how true! Amy Grant can still to this day make me cry when she sings She's so real and believable. To me that's what the most important thing is when you're an artist that when people hear you sing, they believe you.
1) Aside from music what are some other passions that you have?
My daughter and I love painting pottery, going to Climb Nashville and oh, we're trying Zip lining tomorrow :)
2) What's playing on your iPod currently that you like?
I love Ingrid Michaelson, Ed Sheeran, The Band Perry, Brantley Gilbert, Kelly Clarkson
3) What TV show do you watch as an escape?