Estacada singer-songwriter celebrates release of first album
Country singer-songwriter Jessica Elliots life has changed significantly over the past few years.
In 2015, she was teaching kindergarten and English language development in the Estacada School District. Now, shes celebrating the release of her first full-length album.
Elliot, whose stage name is Jessie Leigh, has always loved singing but was initially hesitant to chose it as a career path. After graduating from Estacada High School in 2006, she earned a bachelors degree in education. However, her passion for music remained strong, and she began singing during services at Estacada Community Fellowship.
She says this experience was valuable in building confidence as a musician.
I knew I was going to make mistakes, but being forced to be vulnerable was really helpful, she said. People were still able to worship through my mistakes.
Her confidence was further solidified when she participated in the regional semi-finals for the reality show Karaoke Battle USA in 2011.
It was really a make or break moment, she said. I knew I was going to let (my fear) completely overcome me or get up there and do it.
Elliot didnt win the competition, but the experience gave Elliot the confidence to pursue music professionally.
Elliot formed a band, began singing in local venues and eventually branched out to Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada and Montana.
Elliot and her band have opened for Chris Janson, Kenny Chesney and Craig Campbell.
She credits networking with helping build her career.
Its really important to talk to people, and get yourself out there, she said. I went to a lot of open mics.
Shes excited to share her album, Jessie Leigh, with fans and new listeners. She worked on the album a year and a half prior to its release earlier this month.
She compared the songs on the album to a series of stories from her life, her favorite of which is Feels like Home.
Its about my relationship with my husband, she said. Im on the road a lot, and sometimes hell come with me. (The song is about) that feeling of whenever hes there, I feel so comfortable, and it feels like home, even if were away from home.
Since pursuing music full time, one of Elliots favorite things has been connecting with fans.
I really love it when people message me saying how much they relate to a song, she said.
In ten years, Elliot hopes her songs will be on mainstream radio. In the meantime, she hopes to focus on engaging with audiences.
I want to play where the people want to be there, she said.
She also hopes her roots in Estacada remain strong.
I always want to come home to Estacada, she said. I love being outside. On good days, my office is my backyard, looking out at the mountain.
Elliot will celebrate the release of her album with an acoustic show at 7 p.m. May 27 at Baileys Pub and Grub, 23788 Highway 211, Colton. Shell have another release party with a full band at 7 p.m. June 18 at Dukes Bar and Grill, 14601 S.E. Division St., Portland.
The album is available for purchase on iTunes and the Bloom Cafe and Flower Shop in Estacada, 355 Broadway St.
When Elliot reflects on her musical success, she says it feels surreal.
A few years ago if you would have told me Id be releasing an album, I wouldnt have believed you, she said.