Jessica Rose "Jessie" James Decker
(born April 12, 1988) is an American country pop singer and songwriter. Having auditioned for and being rejected by most of the country labels in Nashville, Tennessee at age fifteen, James began working on refining her craft with Karla Wallace of Yellow Dog Records. One of her songs attracted the attention of Mercury Records which offered her a recording contract. She released her debut album, Jessie James
, in 2009 and is currently working on another one.
Life and career
James was born April 12, 1988 in Vicenza, Italy. She began singing at the age of two, and won her first talent contest in Baker, Louisiana at the age of nine singing "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart". She told her mother about the show after hearing about it from her grandmother. By then, she had already been writing songs on a plastic guitar and performed at SeaWorld and in Warner Robins, in 2000. At age fifteen, she made weekly trips to Nashville to hone her songwriting. She had auditioned and was turned down by almost all the country labels in Nashville, with one label head offering a development deal. At seventeen, James was introduced to Karla Wallace of independent label Yellow Dog Records, who helped her with her songwriting and singing. One of her songs, "Gypsy Girl", written with two writers from Yellow Dog, had been pitched to American Idol
contestant and winner, Carrie Underwood. Ms. Underwood put it on hold for her record, but nonetheless made it into the hands of record executive David Massey, who brought her to the attention of L.A. Reid. She auditioned for Reid singing her song, "My Cowboy", produced by John Rich. James soon inked a contract with Mercury Records. Originally thinking that she would be producing a country record, James was instead told to record a pop album by record executives. She also claimed to have been asked to sound like pop singer Britney Spears. She described the recording process as "intense" as the label sent her to work with hip-hop producers who asked her to sound less country despite her desire to make country music. She described herself in an interview as "a country girl at heart," having grown up listening to the genre, preferring it to pop. Her debut album, Jessie James
was released in August 2009, debuting at number twenty-three on the Billboard
200. The music on the album was a fusion between country and pop music, with more emphasis placed on the latter as dictated by her label. The album also featured writing credits from James and seasoned pop songwriter Kara DioGuardi and Mitch Allan among others. The album received a mixed reception from critics, Allmusic
received the album positively, but found that despite being marketed as such and featuring some country influenced production, the music on the album was far cry from country music. Slant
thought that the album only superficially pulled together influences from pop, country and hip-hop while failing to pander to any of those audiences. Its first single, "Wanted", produced by Allan had been released in April and peaked at number forty on the Billboard
Hot 100. She later performed in the Middle East with singer Kid Rock and comedian Carlos Mencia for US troops stationed overseas.James began working on her second album, Sweet American Dreams
, in 2010, initially planned to be released in late summer. The album was to be of the same country-pop sound as her debut, with James being given more leeway by Mercury in incorporating country sounds. First single, "Boys in the Summer" released in June, was a minor country success but failed to chart on the Billboard
Hot 100. Having struggled with accepting her career path as a pop singer, James told her label in the midst of preparations for her album that she did not want to be a pop artist and wanted to record country music. After negotiations, David Massey, the record executive who had brought James to LA Reid, asked Mark Wright from Show Dog-Universal Music, which had facilitated the country release of "Boys in the Summer" in November, to help Mercury/IDJ launch James in the country genre. James then began recording in April 2011. "When You Say My Name" was produced by Wright and released on January 31, 2012. "Military Man" was released on May 22, 2012. She was removed from the Show Dog Universal roster in 2013.
Musical style and influences
James co-wrote the majority of the songs on her debut album. The album is of a country pop fusion genre, revealing her taste for not only country music, but pop and soul music as well. The beat for "Blue Jeans" was a recording of James stepping, as she was in the step team in school. Initially, she faced opposition for her soul music inspired vocal runs when trying to get signed in Nashville. She has listed Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Bobbie Gentry, Janis Joplin, Shelby Lynne, and Shania Twain as influences. Initially, she also stated that she wanted a career similar to those of Gentry and Twain, who were signed to pop labels but found crossover success in both country and pop music.
On June 22, 2013, James married Eric Decker, a starting wide receiver for the New York Jets of the National Football League who at the time played for the Denver Broncos. In September 2013, it was announced that the couple was expecting their first child together. In November 2013, It was announced that the couple is expecting a daughter. James gave birth to their daughter, Vivianne Rose Decker, on March 18, 2014.