Jenna Jentry is a hands-on kind of artist. The workaholic Country singer-songwriter from Dallas, Texas, insists on being involved in every aspect of her career, from booking shows to transportation to meetings and everything in between. Jentry remains fiercely independent; an artist that is rightfully proud of the success she and her close-knit team have built almost entirely from the ground up.
“I want to be known as the first woman in the Country music industry to truly do things independently, to have 100 percent creative freedom, to decide what my ticket prices are, how much my merchandise costs,” Jentry says. “My priority is to establish a relationship with the fans and the music lovers first. We don’t mind kickin’ up dust a little bit and doing things our way in order to do that. We like the ‘us against the world’ mentality.”
Along with multi-platinum producer and songwriter Kevin DeClue (Hilary Duff), Jentry set out in 2011 to make her first full-length album – on her terms. The pair quickly discovered a creative spark between them in the songwriting process, with Jentry penning most of the song lyrics and DeClue contributing the melody lines. With the exception of one Keith Urban/Radney Foster/Darrell Brown song (“Someday Soon”), DeClue and Jentry count as the only writers on the project, aptly titled Good As Gold.
Between the two of them, DeClue and Jentry co-produced much of the album in Dallas before hooking up with Grammy-nominated Nashville producer Mark Moffatt. Moffatt, known for his work with Country stars such as Keith Urban, Gloriana and Jason Aldean, provided just the right amount of Music City magic to the project.
“Mark Moffatt and Kevin DeClue are absolutely brilliant people and brilliant producers,” says Jentry. “Mark, Kevin and I were all on the same page about how the record should sound, which in turn made the process so fun and easy. Our styles blended together to give it a good mix of Texas grit and Nashville polish, which is one of the reasons I think it is such a standout record. I was able to come to Nashville with the songs I had written in Texas and make them a little more ‘Nashville’ without losing my Texas style, and I’m really grateful to them for that.”
For the lyric-minded Jentry, the art of songwriting is something that piqued her interest at a very early age.
“My first poem was published when I was only five years old,” she reveals. “In elementary school, creative writing was always my favorite subject. I was fascinated by the idea of making a story come to life. By the time I was in high school, I was writing songs and going to the recording studio at night to co-write with some of the local producers.”
In 2010, a three-song EP Jentry had recorded a year earlier landed her a spot in the NSAI Song Contest finals, presented by CMT. Her original material also impressed the judges at London’s esteemed UK Songwriting Contest enough to earn her a berth in the finals there, too.
Jentry says that the bulk of Good As Gold came together in a converted writing room above the singer’s garage, including her debut single, “Lovin’ Lazy.”
“‘Lovin’ Lazy’ is basically when someone stops trying in a relationship,” explains Jentry. “It’s when you’re sitting there, getting hit on by other guys, and your boyfriend doesn’t even care anymore! It’s about wanting him to act how he used to act when the two of you first met – you want him to fight for you and never let you slip away.”
Coming from a large, full-blooded Italian family from New York, the striking 23-year-old represents an interesting mix of Country roots and big city smarts. Although her family relocated to Texas before Jenna was born, her Italian heritage is an important influence in her songwriting and overall career, she says.
“Growing up in an Italian family, things like music, art and creativity were really embraced and encouraged,” notes the dark-haired, olive-skinned singer. “I was lucky to get my start at such an early age. Italians are super emotional people– when we’re happy, we’re ecstatic; when we’re sad, the world feels like it’s ending; when we’re in love, we’re hopelessly in love. It makes for great songwriting!”
Jentry’s unmistakable DIY spirit and work ethic has already helped her stand out in today’s crowded Country music market. In addition to her songwriting accolades, Jentry opened shows in 2012 for The Band Perry, Scotty McCreery, Jo Dee Messina and Travis Tritt, among others. And even in the early stages of her career, Jentry is firmly committed to her charity work and community. An avid supporter of the Wounded Warrior Foundation, The Fisher House and the men and women of the Armed Forces, Jentry also frequently donates her time and performances for The Ronald McDonald House and local VA hospitals.
“My ultimate goal is just to bring smiles to the faces of the people who hear my music,” she says. “I want to comfort them in the hardest of times and make the best times even better. I want to be able to do what I’m doing now forever, because without being on stage singing Country music, I would feel like I wasn’t being who I was supposed to be.”
With Good As Gold, Jentry is ready to take yet another determined step towards that goal.