It really is an exciting time for multi-talented Janelle Arthur. This Nashville based country singer/songwriter and actress has just made her film debut, playing the lead role of country singer Faith Winters in “ Runnin’ From My Roots”. In the movie, Faith returns to her hometown in rural Texas after a very public fall from grace where she rediscovers feelings for her high school sweetheart. Sounds like a great “rainy Sunday afternoon” watch for country music fans! Here’s Janelle with a stunning live performance of the title track, her new single, which she co-wrote
Although Janelle’s name may be new to our UK based followers, she has already made quite an impression across the pond, getting through to the top 5 of American Idol’s 12th series and garnering a massive following on social media. But even before this, the Tennessee native wasn’t a stranger to performing by a long shot!
Growing up in the small town of Oliver Springs in the heart of the Smoky Mountains ( yep, Dolly territory! ) she began singing and performing locally aged 8 and was soon acting too, portraying Dolly in a theatrical production at Dollywood. She continued to perform at Pigeon Forge’s Country Tonite Theatre both as a child and an adult, but making music was always her ambition. A move to Nashville in 2010 was the next logical step for Janelle and
American Idol followed in 2013.
Like so many “ wannabe” country artists, her dream was to perform at the Opry but unlike the majority Janelle’s dream has already become reality on several occasions, her debut being in 2013. The next year saw the release of the single “ What You Asked For” and her self titled EP followed.
I caught up with Janelle recently to ask her about her career, musical influences and plans for the future……she has already packed so much into her life and it makes a brilliant read!
1.LH Hello Janelle! I’d like to set the scene by asking where you are as you’re answering these questions for me please!
JW I am answering these questions from my home right outside of Nashville. Currently sitting in my living room, surrounded by my Christmas decorations 🙂 haha.
2.LH I’m going to jump straight in and ask you about your lead role in the recent movie “ Runnin’ From My Roots” …..a role that was seemingly made for you I think you’ll agree? How did all this come about? .
JW The role in Runnin’ From My Roots came about when I got the call from casting director Gabielle Evans Fields. She explained to me that she, the director and the writer all felt as if I would be the perfect fit for the lead role as Faith Winters. I was intrigued for sure, so I read the script. They explained to me that Deana Carter (Strawberry Wine) would play my mother in the movie and produce the soundtrack as well. Needless to say, it was a no-brainer for me to take the job even though I didn’t have much film acting experience.
3.LH I know you’ve done a lot of stage acting before as I’ve mentioned in the introduction, but was a movie role a whole new learning experience for you, and did you enjoy it?
JW I had done some acting on stage. I had mostly had experience with singing in live music shows from ages 8-20. Everything has to be exaggerated on stage from movement to clothing to your expressions in order to read to the audience. Film is a whole different ballgame. I knew this would be challenging for me, but I was up for it!
4. LH 4. But first and foremost you are a singer aren’t you…… when did you realise that something you’d done for fun as a child was what you wanted to do as a career? Was there ever any other option as far as you were concerned?
JW. I did start singing on stage at the age of 4 and began trying to write songs from as early as I can remember. I never thought I would do anything else but entertain.
5.LH Can I assume that, given your history, Dolly Parton has been a big influence on you, and can you tell me who else has help shaped you into the artist you’ve become?
JW. Yes, i have been inspired by Dolly for sure and it didn’t become apparent to me until I was probably about 20 years old just how much she had influenced me. I have always had a love for all kinds of music. I love anything from Vince Gill to Michael Jackson. I would like to be able to pin point who has made me the artist I’ve become, but I really think it has been more of the journey that has made me who I am rather than the studying of individual artists. When you perform enough on stage, you just figure out who you are ..that is, if you don’t try to be anyone else. When you try to put your own spin on any cover song that you do, it forces you to figure out what makes you original. I think the greatest artists of all time have definitely been influenced by other musicians, but mostly they created something authentic to them. That is what I can only hope to do.
6.LH Songwriting is another passion of yours, having co-written all the tracks on your self-titled EP as well as the title track of the movie. …….is that something that really took off after your move to Nashville, and how has living in the city helped you develop as a writer?
JW I did Co-write all of the songs on my EP. I love the writing process. That is really what brought me to Nashville in the first place. Before I moved in 2010, I had only written on my own. I still try to do that, but there is something magical about collaborating with other creatives. I am so thankful for all of the amazing writers I have met in this city.
7. LH Do you have a favourite from your songwriting catalogue……maybe a song that’s particularly personal or that you love to perform live?
JW It is hard to choose favorite song, but I do love singing my song Front Porch Swing any chance I get. It is about my grandmother’s porch swing. I wrote it with Dana Jorgensen and we are both overwhelmed by how many people have been moved by this song. It is a special one.
8. LH Your appearances on American Idol obviously helped raise your public profile but what did you learn from the experience?
JW I learned a lot from being on national television. I mostly learned that I can handle a lot more pressure than I thought I could. I am
slightly addicted to taking on big challenges and this was most definitely the biggest one I’ve ever taken on. It was worth it for sure!
9. LH What is in store for you in 2019, and are we likely to see you this side of the pond anytime soon?
JW 2019 is looking even brighter than I imagined. With the release of my new single “Runnin’ From My Roots” and
world premiere of the music video on CMT .com, it is apparent that this is just the beginning. I’m ready!
I would love to go back to the UK and I hope it’s sooner than later ❤️
LH I hope so too! Thank you for taking the time to e-chat!!
Interview conducted by and article written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)