Neo-classical singer-songwriter, Jodi Heights has released her new single, Fine Wine. This autobiographical piece of music is made magical by the emotional depth of the reflective lyrics and euphonic depth of the vocals. As the artist chronicles her learning curve, her growth and maturity, we can’t help but be inspired by her celebration of herself.
As a holder of multiple degrees of music, the artist is able to orchestrate sophisticated frames of melodies and vocal weaves that are arresting in their symphony and symbolism. The artist debuted in 2017 with her first ever EP, One Year Wiser. And after a hiatus of 5 years, the artist released six beautifully written singles that are guaranteed to make you feel all your feelings.
Slow-dancing acoustics line the evocative vocals. The warm guitar melodies are like embers of light, punctuating the swelling emotions in the vocals. And slowly, we see adages of soft piano keys that form twinkling melodic tangents alongside the guitar. The artist virtuosically juxtaposes soothing euphonic fabrics to create a lilting emotional high that fits the soulful and celebratory theme of the song.
You have multiple degrees in music theory including a Master of Music! Can you tell us a little about how you got started and what set you out on this journey as a singer-songwriter?
I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t studying and making music. I started taking classical piano lessons when I was 3 and classical voice lessons when I was 10. I also grew up attending a church where almost all of the musicians played and sang by ear or chord charts, so I learned to do both styles. Song ideas began popping into my head around age 11, but I was only writing sporadically while I was in school and then working as a full-time musician. It wasn’t until about 8 years ago that I picked up songwriting again and felt I’d found my style.
You released your EP, One Year Wiser in 2017. It’s a very beautiful record. After which there was a hiatus of four years before we saw another release from you. In that period, what were some of the challenges (music/artist wise) you set to overcome, and how have they impacted your art?
My first album felt like such an accomplishment. I had dreamed of releasing an EP of my own songs since I was a kid. The whole album process was a huge learning curve, and after I finished, I was basically exhausted. Recording is also painfully expensive for an independent artist, and there are barely any financial rewards after the fact to make up for the cost. I needed to focus on my other music jobs that actually paid my bills, save up money for future projects, and challenge myself to write a lot more songs. I’m still looking for ways to make my songwriting life sustainable, so I started a Patreon community (www.patreon.com/jodiheights) where people can directly support my work. Now, I have a huge backlog of new songs and projects ready to go, but learning to prioritize has been key. What do I feel ready to put out into the world? What projects are worth investing in right now? Answering those questions points me toward the next step on the journey of my work.
Fine Wine is your sixth release of 2022! That’s impressive! In light of this, what are some of the themes/musical concepts that you found yourself revisiting over the course of these releases?
White Knight and my 3-song EP, Triptych, were all written during the beginning months of the pandemic, so the themes are heavy and many of the lyrics have dark imagery, like fighting battles and braving storms. Aurora shifts gears. It was my first song written on Celtic harp, an instrument I started teaching myself in January 2021. Lyrically, it begins with being lost in the dark, but intuition eventually lights the way forward. Fine Wine felt like the right ending to that arc: to trust your instincts and be patient, knowing that things are unfolding as they should with perfect timing. It also felt like the right song for a debut music video since it’s so confident and joyful. For me, all of these songs are part of the cycle of human experience. Both as individuals and as a society, we evolve. That process is often scary and painful, but it is also necessary. If change is inevitable, I want to strive for improvement.
Your classical style and poetic flourishes are a delight to engage in. Please tell us a little about the artists that inspire you and influence your singing and songwriting process.
My earliest influences were a contrast between classical music and contemporary Christian. Along with an undergraduate degree in music, I also doubled in English, so I’ve read and written a lot of poetry, which I think shows up in my lyric writing. I also spent 14 years in a world music band and have taught students a mix of genres from rock to Broadway, so I’m not even sure what my main influences are anymore! I guess I like variety. I do try to listen to other singer- songwriter-pianists: Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Laura Nyro, Nina Simone, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, and Sara Bareilles, among others. It’s good to hear artists working with the same instrument I am and see what they create.
Finally, we would love to get a peek into what you have lined up for the near future that we can look forward to.
I’m currently planning a night-themed EP which I’ll be recording in Boston in early 2023. It will feature my first original song for harmonium, a gorgeous instrument played primarily on the Indian subcontinent. Besides recording, I’m also hoping to film my second music video in New York City in March. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be working with a choreographer and dancers for the first time. After that, we’ll see where my intuition leads me!
Available on Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music!