It takes a rare form of courage to pursue your dream while still delicately nestled in your rose-tinted teen years. It takes an even rarer form of self-confidence to admit it wasn't your dream after all. For singer turned songwriter-producer-A&R consultant and all-around female boss Jenna Andrews, that dream did come true. But as it turns out, life had an even better one planned for her.
You may recognize Andrews as the angelic voice behind the 2010 Grey's Anatomy featured track, "Tumblin' Down".
And if you've been perusing the "Where Are They Now?" corners of the internet ever since, here's a brief history: After signing to Island Def Jam, Andrews soon realized that the life of a singer wasn't quite for her. Touring was exhausting and while singing her own songs was fulfilling, being the face of them wasn't. So she turned to the one aspect of music that she did enjoy- songwriting.
EARMILK had the chance to connect with Andrews, who openly shared the various paths in her life that seemed to have their own plans for her. She explained that "you don't really predict these things in life, and when I left the label, I wanted to spend a year in the creating process. In that experience, I started working with Majid Jordan on songwriting and vocal production and really loved it. So it wasn't about not wanting to be a singer anymore, it was a preference of creating and coming up with a vision, which was more exciting to me."
One of the pressing questions about being a songwriter is whether the accomplishment of a successful song is amplified as that song's original creator. But Andrews doesn't look at songwriting or producing as a means of collecting credits. "The thing that's really cool about the other side of writing for someone else is being in another person's brain. It's like being a therapist, tapping into someone else's life but then making it relatable to your own, which is amazing to experience with someone else." Thus, the creative and personal bond that Andrews found in the studio with other artists became her own personal mantra. Having since worked with the likes of Drake, Noah Cyrus, Jessie J, Tori Kelly, and Jennifer Lopez, she quickly established that songwriting and producing was what she was meant to do all along. Until she met a fellow Canadian teen by the name of Lennon Stella.
"I met Lennon when she was 14, when she was doing Nashville, and I was actually working with her sister Maisy as a songwriter. It wasn't until a couple years later that she (Lennon) told me that she wanted to go solo, and it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. I always loved her voice and her vibe, she was somebody that I shared a chemistry with." Stella became the steering point for Andrews' career in A&R, where she became the exclusive consultant for industry veteran Barry Weiss' RECORDS label. And just like in songwriting, Andrews' personal mantra followed her into A&R work as well: "My favourite process is to work with people that ultimately you have a connection with. I love to be able to get under the hood and really know what an artist wants to say or feel, sometimes when they don't even know. The colour of their personality that comes out- it's a painting, it's an art."
Andrews' relationship with Weiss wasn't purely accidental. Having met him in 2012 while he was residing as the president of her label (Island Def Jam), they quickly bonded over collective creative interests and mutual respect for their work ethics. This harmonious working relationship wasn't overlooked. Announced earlier this month, Sony/ATV launched their newest joint venture, TwentySeven Music Publishing, led by none other than Weiss and Andrews. An ambitious and wildly creative venture, one of their first signings were with Little Mix's Jade Thirwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock. A deal that arose from Andrews finding out they've never had a publishing deal before while vocal producing their album and helping write "Motivate."
Jenna Andrews has come a long way from the fourteen-year-old writing songs and dreaming of paving her way into the music business. Despite her incredible success and even more impressively long time spent in the industry, she remains refreshingly humble. Lighting up when talking about her rescue dog, Ms. Larry David, Andrews proves that being successful doesn't strip away your humanity. Bridging emotional connections and using diverse experiences as fodder for lucratively desired hits, she is the epitome of music as art. What started as a simple hobby evolved into a fiery passion engulfing everything she's ever come in contact with. A true champion of business and pleasure, this Calgary girl has come full circle, and she is finally right where she belongs.