The difference a year can make can sometimes be staggering.
Around this time last year, JaeCe Simon decided to put her all into pursuing her country music dreams. In the calendar year that has followed, the California native has earned hundreds of thousands of streams across three single releases, including over 100,000 on her debut original single, “I’ll Take the Cowboy,” alone, and has laid a strong foundation for for the career she is carving out.
Most recently, Simon returned with “Beaches in Tucson,” a song that brings her storytelling ability to the forefront as she paints a therapeutic picture of accepting that not every love has a happily-ever-after ending.
We chatted with Simon about her early love of music, each of her releases so far, new music and more!
Pro Country: On Instagram, you’ve shared covers over artists ranging from Brad Paisley, George Strait, Carly Pearce and Flatland Cavalry. Who are some of the artists you’ve drawn influence from that made you fall in love with country music?
JaeCe Simon: I have been surrounded by country music for as long as I can remember. Artists whose songs were ingrained in me from a very young age include Shania Twain, Hank Williams Jr., Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith and Rascal Flatts. I am forever grateful to my parents for introducing me to country music. My mom tells me one of the first songs I started singing when I was young was “Who’s Your Daddy” by Toby Keith! As I have gotten older, the artists mentioned, along with others like Miranda Lambert, Carly Pearce and Morgan Wallen all have had a huge influence on my ever growing love for country music.
PC: At what point in your life did you realize that music was more than a hobby and something you wanted to pursue more seriously?
JS: I have always had this gut feeling that music would end up being what I do as a career. It’s crazy, but I’ve heard God whisper that to me throughout my life. I have been singing since I was in grade school, and in my recent college years, I put it on the back burner and was attempting to pursue a “normal” career path. But doors began to open for me that I was not expecting, and I really felt God calling me to give singing my all. This realization that music was more than a hobby hit me about this time last year, when I started songwriting and recording, and it is seriously all I want to do now. I feel this fire inside to just do it and go for it. I really feel it is my calling in life to be a country music artist.
PC: Last September, you released your debut single, which was a cover of Lee Ann Womack’s “I May Hate Myself in the Morning.” What was it about the song that drew you to record it, and is there any pressure you felt offering your take on a song by such a legendary artist?
JS: I have a strong connection with 90s and early 2000s country music, I think because it is so nostalgic for me and reminds me of growing up. I knew I wanted to start recording music, but to ease into this new world, I decided I wanted my first release to be a cover song. “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” started playing in my car one day and I hadn’t heard it in a while, but I fell in love with it all over again. I love the storyline, the melody, and the way the song makes me feel. It’s just a classic country song. I didn’t feel any pressure taking on the song necessarily, but I wanted to do the song justice and wanted it to be a nod to those country songs and artists that made me fall in love with the genre and have helped shape me into the artist I am and the sound I have.
PC: You released your first original single, “I’ll Take the Cowboy,” in December. What emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release a song you wrote for the first time and having it out into the world?
JS: I was so excited to release a song that was all my own! This was and is such a new experience for me; there were a lot of unknowns as I was figuring out the whole process of releasing a song, but the feeling once it is finally out is a feeling like no other! It’s a mix of adrenaline, relief, satisfaction and excitement for what the song is going to do and how people are going to react to it! I am so happy with the attention it has gotten and those who have reached out and said how much they enjoy it. It is the best feeling, and it makes me want to keep making more music!
PC: Why did you feel that your newest single, “Beaches in Tucson,” was the right follow up to “I’ll Take the Cowboy” and the right song to kick off 2023 with?
JS: My new found love for songwriting has allowed me to express certain experiences and feelings I’ve had while growing up. “Beaches in Tucson” is a special song; I feel like anyone can relate to it in their own way, because it really tugs at the heartstrings. “I’ll Take the Cowboy” is definitely more of an upbeat and fun song, but “Beaches in Tucson” allows listeners to see more of my storytelling side, as well as hear my voice in a different light. I felt this song was appropriate to release because it is an accurate depiction of my life currently, the main point of the song is that some things just aren’t meant to be and there’s no point in forcing that, and as a girl in her early 20s trying to figure life out, it is a life lesson that has been very prevalent! The day we cut a rough demo, I knew it was the next song I wanted to release, no question.
PC: You wrote “Beaches in Tucson” with Angel Ramirez and Johnny Armentrout. Can you take us in the room and talk about how the song came together?
JS: This song was written over a time frame of a couple weeks actually. It started with Johnny just sharing some song titles he had in his phone that he hoped to write about, and “Beaches in Tucson ” was one of them. I instantly loved it and had the idea of well, “there ain’t no beaches in Tucson.” We sat down and kind of talked about it, with the idea that came to my mind I pictured it being a sad kind of breakup song. I took it home that night, just started pouring my feelings onto paper and was able to write a rough draft of the song. I then asked Johnny the next day if I could please adopt that title and keep going with it, he thankfully said yes! I then took the song to my producer, Angel Ramirez, who helped me with the rest of the lyrics and production for it! This song is straight from my heart, it was so therapeutic to write. I cried while cutting the demo. “Beaches in Tucson ” wouldn’t exist or be what it is if it wasn’t for both of their efforts, and I’m so happy with the way it all came together.
PC: During the release cycle of “Beaches in Tucson,” you’ve talked a lot about your love for sad country songs. What are some of your favorite sad country songs?
JS: The way some of these sad country songs are written and how they are able to make the listener feel completely blows my mind. I think that sad, slow songs allow the listener to feel the artists’ emotions on a completely different level. Just a few of my favorites include “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley, “Numbers on the Cars” by Riley Green, “She Let Herself Go” by George Strait and “29” by Carly Pearce. There’s so many great songs out there, I could go on and on!
PC: On Instagram, you’ve shared several unreleased songs you’ve written. What information, if any, can you give about any new music that may be coming in the future? What can listeners expect to hear?
JS: I have been having so much fun writing songs and finding my sound! There are so many that I want to share with the world. One thing I will say is that listeners can expect to hear a lot of storytelling and a true country sound from me!
PC: What do you have planned for the rest of 2023?
JS: I plan to keep writing as much as I can, get a couple more songs released and hopefully get out to Nashville this year! I will be graduating college this year, which will allow me to devote more time to music. A big goal for me is to start working towards either an EP or an album. I’m excited to see what is in store.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
JS: I just want to say thank you so much to Justin at Pro Country for showing interest in me as an artist and wanting to learn more! The support means so much and I can’t wait to see where my music journey goes from here!
*All images by Marilyn Joy*
**JaeCe’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!**
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