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Jacquie Lee Makes Music Her Way on ‘The Only One’

Jacquie
Emily Tan for PopCrush

Jacquie Lee may look like the sweet girl next door, especially when she dazzled us on the fifth season of The Voice in 2013. Now at 20 years old, the California-based singer who grew up in New Jersey wants to show you that she’s more than just that.

On her new EP, The Only One, out today (November 17), Jacquie’s soulful voice moves listeners as she shares the obstacles of growing up and figuring out her place in the world. Not only does she hope to share her musical inspirations, but most importantly, she wants to make music her own way.

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Jacquie sat down with us to talk about her new perspectives on music, her career and why it’s important for her to follow her gut.

Let’s start with your time on The Voice. From the moment you auditioned to now, how has your life changed?
I started The Voice when I was 15. So it went from day-to-day high school life to being in California for the first time to the first time being in reality TV land. It was crazy. From then, it’s been non-stop. After the show, [I went on] tour…and now I have a new EP.

You were on Christina Aguilera’s team. What’s a piece of advice from her that you’ll always have with you?
It would be the night of the finale. She dragged me into her trailer and was like, “All right, moving forward, you’re about to go on a crazy journey so write everything down. And you’ll learn, and you’ll read it back, and it’ll change your life.” So she gave me a journal and wrote a bunch of notes in it, and that was most memorable piece of advice that’s helped me so far.

Moving on to “California Dreaming,” it’s not the usual sound we’re used to hearing from you. Can you talk about this song and what inspired that musical direction?
This project is really special because it’s the first time I really have creative control over the sounds and lyrics. All of the imagery is coming from me, which is more meaningful and personal. But I wanted to get real with my fans and followers and supporters and say it’s okay to struggle and go through a hard time. It’s okay to go through change in your life. Sometimes your expectations are too high, and you’re let down. But it’s okay to go through that s—.

Music is how I express myself. So when I was going through all that and was moving to Los Angeles, my expectations were too high, and that’s what I would write about at the end of the day. That’s what I wanted fans to hear. If they’re going through something similar or any experience throughout life, they should know that they’re not alone. I’m always going to be real with them, and they’ll hear it in my music.

What are you dream collaborations?
Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper. Those would be my top two. And Amy Winehouse, if she were still here.

What can you share about your new EP?
I worked with a producer named Stint, and he did the whole Galant album, [Ology]. He’s executive producing it. It’s very R&B and soulful with pop sounds. He actually did “California Dreaming,” too, which was the big soul hook and R&B chords with synth underneath. He’s just brilliant.

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I worked really closely on the records. There’s one really beautiful ballad, which I’m excited about. I got to play it at a show in LA on the piano. It was stripped down, and it was everyone’s favorite. So I’m excited for that one to come out. And the EP’s story really does represent my personal journey from Jersey to California and the deeper message behind it all: “It’s life. S— happens. There’s change. You’re going to go through s—, and that’s okay.”

Being in the spotlight with The Voice and then venturing out on your own, there’s a lot of misconceptions about you. What would you like to set the record straight on?
I would say a common misconception is just how I’m perceived as a girl next door or the sweetheart. I don’t know who I am. I just am who I am.

Being in the industry as a teenager and all your experiences, did you feel like you had to grow up much faster? What’s your advice to young people who are going to go this route?
Young people who want to go into the industry, my advice to you would be to trust your gut and never let anyone tell you what your art should be. Stick to your guns. Do you. Follow your heart and your passion, and don’t let anyone try to control that.

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