Hailing from Queens, Jessie Wagner, has been known in the entertainment business for years, having toured as a background vocalist with some of music’s most legendary acts including Kid Rock, Little Steven, and Lenny Kravitz.
Although she was consumed with multiple projects- including her own rock band, Army of the Underdogs, she always found herself writing her own songs and had even thought of becoming more of a singer-songwriter. Jessie held onto the music she was writing until finally, after years of supporting the works of others, she released her first solo album as an artist, titled, Shoes Droppin’.
Jessie’s love for travel and music has almost inhibited her over the years to allow her truest creative self to come forward. On the road as a small part of a large production, there is little to no time to nourish the creative mind. “It’s a catch 22. When you tour with these musicians it’s because you love it but it’s also hard to say no because it’s a job,” she explained.
“It’s a feast or famine kind of lifestyle. You never know when the next gig is coming. It’s difficult when you’re just trying to survive,” Jessie noted.
“It’s a very strange existence. You sleep when you can but, you always want to experience it all, especially in all of these different countries you are in. In the back of my mind I’m always like, I should be in my room writing, but I also want to see the world.”
“I was a shy, introverted person, growing up. I started to get on stage in high school. I had always thought that I would be more of an academic. By the time I got to college I entered a pageant, I was going to do a dramatic monologue, but the director had convinced me to sing.”
She ended up winning the pageant and opportunities started to rise. Shortly after, the company she was working for moved her to New York, and “divine intervention” stepped in. “This is home. God directed me to my home which was the stage.”
Jessie began writing Shoes Droppin in 2017. She utilized her gift to express the grief and trauma of dealing with a high level of stress.
“This record kind of came from a really dark period in my life, the songs that I wrote helped me channel some of the emotions I was going through at the time. I had finally moved to a part of my life where I was accepting what had happened and where I was going. I wanted the songs to be heard.”
The album may have stemmed from a negative space, but Jessie constantly reiterates the importance of staying positive.
“I realized it can’t be all about darkness. Life isn’t just darkness. Lyrically, the album goes through that and gives you moments when you grapple with the pain and find acceptance. There is always a silver lining and sometimes you just need to have fun.”
Jessie Wagner’s career as an artist was fostered by her experiences of being so close to the spotlight. She was able to see first-hand what that world is like and how she would present herself as an artist when the time was right.
When it comes to genre, she states “I’m never trying to prove a point, I’m just making music I like. I’m not a cookie cutter girl”.
During the pandemic, she has not strayed away from her love of performing. She constantly did live streams and kept pursuing new passions such as writing dance music for DJs.
Obviously, we needed to ask about her craziest experiences on tour. She told us of a time she performed a Michael Jackson tribute show in Detroit. “It was such a high, especially in the home of motown,” Jessie explained. And of course there’s also the time she danced all night with George Clooney at a benefit show in London, which sounds quite insane!
“I was on tour with Kid Rock and he took a few members of his band to this after party filled with the coolest celebrities from Bono to Scarlett Johanson. Then George Clooney walks in. He comes to us at some point and goes ‘I wanna hang with you guys, cause you’re the real cool people’. That was pretty crazy!”
A long time has come since Jessie made her first steps into this industry yet she still clearly recalls the moment she knew she had made it for real.
“The first time being in a real professional setting was with Nile Rogers and Chic. It’s where I got my training. By the time we got to the O2 in London, I was ready. It was heaven, my favorite place to be.”
Listen to Shoes Droppin HERE