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Interview: Jessie James Decker on Her Holiday Release

Jessie James Decker stays busy. She’s a burgeoning country music star who tours and records for an ever-growing fan base, is mom to two children and married to NFL wide receiver Eric Decker, and was cast on two different reality TV shows (Eric & Jessie: Game On and Redneck Island)! While not all independent artists are expected to juggle this kind of schedule, Jessie does so with style and grace.

Hitting the stage for a talent show at the age of nine, Decker was bit by the country music bug early. After years of hard work trying to stand out and make waves in Nashville as a songwriter and performer, she landed a deal with Mercury Records, who aimed to position her music in the ‘pop’ world. A ‘country girl at heart’, Jessie eventually began releasing her music with Big Yellow Dog Music (distributed via TuneCore) and embraced her desire to continue creating true country tunes.

In early December, Jessie released This Christmas, and we wanted to chat with her about her journey, the indie country scene, and the benefits of releasing and recording holiday music. Check it out below:

You’ve been performing country music since you were a young kid. What is it about this genre that drew you in and truly developed into a passion for you?

Jessie James Decker: I grew up all in the south so it was so natural to just fall in love with country music at an early age. It was always on the radio in the car! LeAnn Rimes was my first record and I learned how to yodel listening to her version of “Cowboy’s Sweetheart”. I actually used to yodel in competitions when I was younger. I was always drawn in by the stories. The music is all about being real and true to yourself—and that’s how I live my life.

Tell us about the differences between recording under a major label and an independent label like Big Yellow Dog Music.

I’ve loved the freedom of writing and recording music on my own over the past few years and really letting my fans guide the process. They’re very quick to tell me what they love and what they don’t! With the way the music world keeps changing, I feel like we are beginning to not need to rely on a label anymore. I have sold more singles and albums than a ton of signed artists who actually have hits on major labels. It’s all about the fans!

You’ve had an inside look at the Nashville indie scene for over a decade now. What are some of the biggest hurdles you see facing indie country artists?

I think it’s just about getting the word out there. I’m very fortunate to have the support of my fans. I’ve been lucky enough to go #1 on iTunes with my releases just based on the strength of my fan base.

Similarly, what kind of new opportunities for artists in this scene have you seen arise in the past 5-10 years?

Social media has opened so many doors. It’s a great way to give people a taste of what you’re working on and let them know it’s out there.

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What is it about the holiday season that inspired you to release last year’s “Baby! It’s Christmas” and this year’s This Christmas?

Spending time with my family during the holidays is the best and that has inspired my original Christmas music . Eric definitely inspired those two singles and a song called “My Santa Claus”, which is one of my favorite originals on my new Christmas album.

Do you have any fun family traditions around the holidays? How important was music during the Christmas season growing up?

My mama was always playing music at Christmas! My favorite was Amy Grant’s Christmas album that my mom would play over and over again! I loved being able to record some of my favorite classics, like Vince Vance & the Valiants “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” for my Christmas album. I also did a duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Joe Nichols and included a bonus version with Eric for the fans, which they are loving!

It’s pretty cool to consider that you’re giving your kids these personal Christmas songs to enjoy each season. How has having children affected your songwriting otherwise?

Being a mother and wife has definitely matured me. I think more about what I’m writing and putting out there now! But I still think it’s important to be yourself even when you’re a mom, so my perspective hasn’t changed too much. I just brought Vivianne on stage with me at the Opry to sing “This Christmas”. She loves being on stage and insisted on coming up with me. She’s such a little entertainer already.