NASHVILLE SINCE 2012
Artist and songwriter Jacob Powell grew up an hour and a half from Nashville, in southern Tennessee. So when it came to pursuing his dreams as a songwriter, he knew exactly how tough it would be. “You know all the ins and outs of everything,” he says, “everything that happens, the politics. I’d say it’s a little bit harder.”
Jacob started writing songs as a teenager. “I was probably 15 when I started. I mean, they were probably awful,” he says. He attended MTSU, where his songwriting skills and love grew.
“I was pre-med,” he says of his college career. “I learned real quick that I didn’t want to do that. I actually played a show one time and this guy fell down the stairs and broke his ankle. The bone came through his foot and I completely passed out. After that I was done. Couldn’t do it.”
When he turned 21, he started playing bars, and the music dream clicked pretty immediately. “I was like, that’s it,” he recalls, “this is what I wanna do.”
He quickly switched his degree to music business. While finishing his degree, he interned at Sony. He also worked at the Harley Davidson store and would play acoustic sets at bars in the area until graduation.
“I tried to get a job in the business, and I applied to probably about 50 and didn’t get any of them,” he recalls. “I kept on writing with people I knew. One day I was up at Sony talking to one of my buddies and they were listening to one of my songs in the room beside me.” They came out and introduced themselves, and invited him back to play. He eventually signed his first publishing deal there.
Jacob was with Sony for three years. “My guys left,” he says of the pluggers that initially championed him, and who ended up leaving the company. “I went through two or three different pluggers at Sony and nothing was clicking.”
He was still writing and had some artists interested in recording his songs, but nothing stuck, and his deal was not renewed. “When I lost my deal, I didn’t have a clue,” he says. “There was about a 9 or 10 month period when I didn’t have a deal, ‘cause I was shopping around and seeing different companies. So there was about a year in the middle of all that that it was tough, no income coming in, had to do odd jobs. Definitely right in the middle of that was a tough period.”
He eventually signed with Ole, where his original pluggers were working after leaving Sony. Lately, he’s been honing his artistic identity. “I feel like I’ve really found my sound in the last couple years,” he says. He’s currently releasing new songs leading up to the release of his record. “It’s fun,” he says. “I feel really, really good. I love it.”
Follow him @jpowmusic