It’s evident in the strength in her voice, the deep vibrations in her tone, the music that resonates out from her gut: Nashville soul pop songstress Josey creates from a place of honesty.
In watching her sing, Josey is graceful and effortless, as if she was made to perform. It’s true that Josey’s inclination to express herself through art came at an early age, a time when she’d put on shows with her sister in their Houston home. Her natural talent, however, doesn’t abate the tireless work the artist puts into her music.
Despite the songwriter’s authentic and personal lyrics, vulnerability takes courage and effort, and Josey admits that laying out her heart onstage took time. She pulls from real-life experiences (listing friends alongside Whitney Houston and Adele when she speaks of her musical inspirations) and sees making music as a form of therapy, a form of processing life. Her personal motto of “create to express, not impress” rings through in the genuinity of her voice, the way the singer layers raw lyrics over soulful beats, and her sweet infusion of pop and R&B that holds listeners close. She belts out as if she’s swallowed a phonograph whole, bravely laying her truth on the table and offering her fans a piece of her life. The music is intentional in its authenticity.
Josey’s willingness, and practice, in connecting with her audience through music has taken her far. Before the young songwriter even completed her music degree at Columbia College, she had been crowned champion of “The Fame Chicago.” She wrote her debut single, “TMI,” while still in school, studying at an international songwriting camp in Germany. Although she had originally written the song for another artist, the truth in Josey’s lyrics demanded to be sung by the writer herself. Still in her twenties, Josey has performed at major venues such as The Chicago Theater and The House of Blues.
Now, based right here in Nashville, Josey continues to create music. Her latest single, “Energy,” which was released on June 26th, addresses the importance of knowing when to let go of the past and value yourself. The clean, catchy beat and the purity of Josey’s voice leave listeners not only dancing along, but also feeling empowered and confident.
We were excited to catch up with Josey to discuss her songwriting process, inspirations, favorite local spots, and much more.
So who or what first got you into singing and performing?
I started off with dance, and then started singing in church and school choir along with doing community theatre and musicals! I was always a fan girl growing up. I would watch TV shows like That’s So Raven, Moesha, Sister Sister, All That, etc. and just wanted to be like everyone I was watching. Haha. My sister and I would make up skits and pretend to be Moesha and do our own show.
I know that you also spent some time in Chicago (where I’m from!) playing at major venues such as The Chicago Theater and the House of Blues. How do you think your experiences — both in Nashville and Chicago — have shaped your music?
I think my time in Chicago made me a better vocalist and performer, and I learned to get over/ handle my stage fright, but my time in Nashville has made me a better musician and songwriter as well working on my vocals and performance skills. Chicago was better for big live band shows, and Nashville there’s live music everyday, so it’s more about meeting people and just putting yourself out there even if you’re not ready or “perfect”.
Do you have any favorite stories from your time performing?
Yes! One of my favorite times performing was when me and my band got to perform at The Chicago Theater for the first time and got to sign our names on the dressing room walls backstage. We had worked so hard all year, and to be chosen for this gig was just a dream come true!
Back in 2016, you were crowned the winner of “The Fame Chicago”! Can you talk a bit about your experience on the show?
So the process was two auditions for the first round, and then the call backs! Once I found out I made the finals I was shocked and very excited. We had mentor sessions and a dress rehearsal- looking back, even though the process was spread out from the auditions to the final performance, it seemed to go by so quick. The main piece of advice I took away was to really open up and let down the facade. Music is not for walls or for pretend. Music is the truth, and it’s time to tell your story or others. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
Some of my biggest inspirations are Indie Aerie, Whitney Houston, Pink, Michael Jackson, Adele & Lauryn Hill! Also real life and peoples’ stories/situations inspire me.
You just premiered your latest single “Energy” on June 26th. Can you tell us about the creation of the song and what your songwriting process looks like?
Yes, so this song I originally wrote in October of 2018. It started off with just an acoustic guitar and vocals. I wrote it during a co-write with my friend Kate Cosentiono. Honestly, I was just venting about my life and a situation that happened with my friends, and before we knew it, the song just wrote itself. I had played a different original tune for her and said I wanted that jazzy chill vibe, and once she started playing the intro on guitar, it all just came together with the melody and lyrics. My writing process varies- sometimes I start with just melody and lyrics, sometimes I have a full track and we write to that. Sometimes it’s just chords or a hook.
Who else was involved in the production of the track?
The song was produced by Austin Shawn. He is based in Nashville. The song was written by me and Kate Cosentino, and Austin and I were also a part of the creative production.
The track’s lyrics reference loneliness, but also self-love in terms of looking out for yourself, which is definitely inspiring. What are some of the major takeaways you hope to give listeners?
I want listeners to be able to decide when it’s time to let go or move on from a situation. Also knowing how to pick your battles. Not everything is worthy of a response or your time. You are the PRIZE. You are the one who’s gonna make things happen, and anyone in your life is lucky you’ve allowed them in your space, and you’re giving them your time and energy. I don’t have the energy to argue with racists, I don’t have the energy to prove why my life matters, because I shouldn’t have to. If they are not getting it by now, it’s time to move along. If it’s not making you happy, making you better or making you money, it’s not worth it sis!
There’s so much uncertainty and tension right now in terms of the global pandemic and a national push for revolution. We are living through history-in-the-making moments. Do you find that this has affected your music?
Yes. I feel now more than ever we need to use our voices and start speaking through music again. Music needs to lead the way of this revolution because it is needed and is happening. We are tired, fed up and we are changing the things we can no longer accept! I have a lot of songs to write about what is going on, and for once, I feel like many people are open to hearing those songs now.
What might we expect from Josey in the coming months and years?
What you can expect from me within the next few years is definitely more music. In the next few years, I want to release an EP and a full album. You can also expect merch from me! I would also love to start playing festivals. (Once those come back/ corona is under control). I also see myself moving to Los Angeles within the next few years. I also want to expand more and do more creative projects/ modeling & acting.
What local Nashville establishments do you miss going to the most, and are most excited to frequent and support again once deemed safe, acceptable, and fully open?
Yass I’m excited to be able to go back to Tin Roof on Demonbreun for Bus Call! I was supposed to play in May, but you know, the ‘rona lol. I can’t wait to hit up the outdoor pool at Pinewood Social, Bar Taco. I’m excited to try Slim & Huskys, a black owned restaurant! Oooh I can’t wait to go to Mickey’s! It’s this dive bar in East Nashville, and every time I go I get fucked up lol, but I have the best time! I also live like down the street from it now, lol. Pearl Diver is another one of my fav spots in town. I really miss festivals too, that’s what I LIVE for!