Jessa Campbell
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Jessa Campbell

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | AFM

Portland, Oregon, United States | AFM
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Alternative Folk




"[PREMIERE] Jessa Campbell - Is This Our Story"

Back in 2015, Jessa Campbell released her debut album Persephone Dreams. The well received record gained plaudits for it’s blending of folk, pop and what she describes as, “harmonic & melodic lines influenced by Hildegard Von Bingen and the Cascadian Bioregion”. Since that release, Jessa has taken a break from her musical career to have her child, Cedar, and has recently returned to the studio to work on a new EP, Great Grey Owl, which will be out later this year. Bridging the gap between Persephone Dreams and Great Grey Owl, Jessa is sharing the video to Is This Our Story, which we’re premiering here today.

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Is This Our Story is lifted from Persephone Dreams, the track explores the transient nature of modern living, as Jessa explains, “we live in an incredible age where those privileged enough can pick up their lives and move across the country if they wanted! As a middle-class white woman, I recognized the tendency in my own life to quickly move on from situations, places or even people when things became difficult”. The track is accompanied by a video made by Jessa’s friend, Eli Bauer, an attempt to use dance to, “embody the juxtaposition of continuous movement in our lives and the pull of wanting to ground ourselves and root to place”.

Is This Our Story is a track that mirrors its lyrical themes; the choppy John Grant like piano playing and orchestral string flourishes, accompanied by Jessa’s lithe, flamboyant vocal, reminiscent of Regina Spektor or Marissa Nadler. A welcome return from an ambitious and intriguing songwriter, Is This Our Story is the perfect bridge to take Jessa Campbell from one phase of her songwriting into the next, wherever it goes, that next step is going to be fascinating to follow.

Great Grey Owl will be out later this year. Click HERE for more information on Jessa Campbell. - For The Rabbits

"The Birth of a Movement: The Growth of #WomenCrush Music"

Being a woman in the music industry is no easy task. With festival lineups dominated by men, alternative charts nearly devoid of female artists, and pop songwriters constantly pitted against one another by the media, women in music face challenges men in the industry never have to.

These issues are nothing new, and trying to fix these problems is no easy task. But one Portland-born organization is up to the challenge.

As we mentioned last summer, #WomenCrush is the brainchild of Portland artist Ashley Kervabon (Ashley Xtina). In the beginning, #WomenCrush was a series of showcases hosted at Portland’s Jade Lounge for women songwriters in the city. Since then, it’s expanded at a rapid pace, gaining traction in cities across North America, from New York to Nashville to Vancouver, British Columbia. After only a year, the nonprofit is now hosted in 13 cities, with more than 20 internationally soon to come, and includes in its ranks more than 40 artists in Portland alone.

“It’s become this movement to connect women in music and create more opportunities for them,” says Kervabon of her organization. “Though I had no idea it was going to become this international thing.”

Ashley Kervabon, founder of #WomenCrush.Ashley Kervabon, founder of #WomenCrush.Kervabon’s movement has been one long in the making. Its early inspiration came from her own experiences as a woman in the music industry. Throughout her life, she’s been in many positions, from her time in public relations, to working the box office at a venue, to being an artist herself. Inspiration came as her experiences exposed the problems women face in the music industry.

“When I was 19, I was working at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City,” says Kervabon. “I met so many amazing musicians working the box office there, and a very well-known writer for a very well-known publication. At the time, I really wanted to be a music journalist. I was friendly to him, and he knew me by name.

“One day, it had gotten to the point in college where I was applying for internships. He’d known me for about a year, so I asked him, ‘Hey, I was wondering if maybe you were looking for an intern this semester. I could intern for you.’"

“He said, ‘Why would I do that?’"

“Doesn’t your publication hire interns?"

“‘Well, my publication would never hire a woman,’” he said.

This was only one of many situations Kervabon faced in the industry. From her time at the Iridium, Kervabon gained knowledge on booking. Later, she went on to become an artist herself, and came to another realization.

“You literally have to be a businesswoman, and when I realized that you can’t just be an artist and that’s that, I majored in communications and started on a PR and marketing route.”

With experience in booking, PR, marketing and songwriting, the pieces of the puzzle that would become #WomenCrush began to come together.

After much time spent in her native New York, Kervabon sought a change of setting, moving to Portland in 2015. With a new city and a fresh start, she aimed to make connections and found yet another problem.

“I didn’t know how to get connected here. Like, how do you do that? Do you go on Craiglist, just start going to shows? You don’t really know how to begin when you just move somewhere and you don’t know anybody.”

This is when #WomenCrush was unofficially born. Seeking to make connections and meet more women in the Portland music scene, Kervabon started the Jade Lounge showcases. Soon, all of her experience and hardships came together into one passion project.

“That’s when a lightbulb went off in my head,” she says. “I thought, ‘I can do something about this.’”

Through the Jade Lounge showcases, Kervabon quickly made connections throughout the city and began to use her experience to help other women who faced the same challenges she had.

“I’d gone down all these roads, and now I was in a place where I could ask, ‘What do I wish I could’ve told myself then?’”

With support behind her and more Portland artists joining her cause, #WomenCrush grew rapidly, and Kervabon used her position and insight to become an artist mentor, helping other women in the Portland scene overcome the obstacles they were facing. As she continued to work to grow the cause, she realized her place wasn’t in the spotlight as an artist.

“I realized I was more proud watching other artists grow and being a part of that growth than I ever was about my own music.”

As the movement grew, the work involved began to outweigh what Kervabon herself could tackle. Thus, the #WomenCrush movement became #WomenCrush Music the nonprofit organization. Now with its own chapters across the US and Canada, each city is host to their own showcases and headed by their own chapter leaders. Kervabon herself oversees all Portland operations, and another Portland artist, Kingsley, watches over it all.

Kinglsey, aka Moe Lincoln, the QOO for #WomenCrush Music.Kinglsey, aka Moe Lincoln, the QOO for #WomenCrush Music.Kingsley, real name Moe Lincoln, is the Queen of Operations, or QOO, for #WomenCrush. After meeting Kervabon in March of last year through one of the Jade Lounge showcases, a friendship was ignited. Now, as the QOO for the nonprofit, Lincoln oversees all the chapter leaders in every city, making sure they’re booking the venues and doing the work that will keep #WomenCrush afloat.

Lincoln herself faced many challenges in the industry that made the work Kervabon was doing with her organization stand out.

“As a woman, some people don’t treat you as a musician,” she says. “I had someone comment on a song I posted saying, ‘Your voice sounds yummy.’ Would you ever say that to a man?”

In her own music, Lincoln seeks to push the boundaries of genre. This bold creativity boasts even more obstacles for her as a woman of color in the industry.

“Being a black artist, you’re expected to sing jazz or R&B, and that’s it,” she says. “But I like different music, and when you’re flipping through your songs, you don’t stick with one genre. You’re listening to a blues track, then you’ll skip to a rock track. I want my whole album to sound like that, and I don’t want anyone to tell me I can’t do it.”

This creative choice is exactly what #WomenCrush seeks to support. Without the help of other women and a community to stand behind them, such talented artists as Kingsley, Kervabon and the plethora of female songwriters hidden within Portland’s underground would not get the recognition they deserve.

“With #WomenCrush, we’re creating community,” says Kervabon. “We’re educating and making sure these women are connecting with the right people.

“We need to keep supporting each other and inspiring each other. It’s not all about growing our own careers, it’s supporting everyone else too.”

With #WomenCrush continuing to grow, the goals the organization hopes to achieve are endless. By creating this community, each artist and chapter can help one another, providing resources for artists to know what venues to book, what producers to trust and how to best market themselves to gain the recognition the industry doesn’t pay them.

Says QOO Lincoln, “I joined #WomenCrush because it felt good to be supported by women. In the music world, we’re often pitted against one another. It’s this catty world where only one person can make it, and it’s so not true. Going forward, I want to see this internationally. In every city. I want the world to honor these talented women the way they should be honored.”

Jessa Campbell performing at The Rye Room.
Jessa Campbell performing at The Rye Room.
Even in its early stages, #WomenCrush has already accomplished exactly what it intended to. Singer-songwriter Jessa Campbell tells of her own involvement with the organization, and how it helped her as a new artist to the Portland scene.

“I just moved to Portland last summer, and I saw something about #WomenCrush online. I reached out to [Kervabon], and she invited me to play at a showcase at the Portland Saturday Market downtown. She mentioned she worked with artists, and if I would be interested in working with a publicist. I needed press, and didn’t know anything about that world. I had never done anything like that with my music before. It had always been on the backburner since I had my son. So it felt like a good time to see what could happen through working with #WomenCrush.”

After becoming involved with the organization, Kervabon and #WomenCrush Music helped Campbell finish her latest EP, and even booked her a headline show for its premiere at The Old Church, featuring all women artists on the bill.

This is the world Kervabon wanted to see. An industry where women support women, help each other face the obstacles the music scene throws at them, and let talented artists thrive. As the organization continues to grow, more and more will be possible. With a community of artists in every city, it’s the hope of #WomenCrush that the representation of women in music can grow to the heights it should have always been.

The first Portland showcase of 2018 will be January 17 at the White Eagle Saloon and will feature artists including Kingsley, Jessa Campbell and many more! - Brendan Swogger

"Tracks Jessa Campbell Live from The Rye Room [Video Premiere]"

The Pacific Northwest is a landscape that calls people to create. Whether the artist draws from the quiet of the forests or the wind howling along the coastline, inspiration—like greenery—is plentiful. It is this awe and abundance that permeates singer-songwriter Jessa Campbell’s performance of her song “Great Grey Owl.”

“Great Grey Owl” is the title track off Campbell’s newly released EP, and it firmly establishes her identity as a self-proclaimed “bioregional storyteller” who draws her muse from the characteristics of the natural environment. It’s no wonder, then, that this song sprouted from her time at the Camp Singing Wind community, a space described on its Facebook page as dedicated to “resilient living and permaculture.”

“On a walk in the woods behind the little A-frame cabin I was living in," Campbell explains, "I spotted this majestic bird. We took each other in for what felt like ages, though it likely was no more than a few minutes. I had a thought that this being was the Holy Spirit of the land. It felt regal, powerful and good. I later wrote 'Great Grey Owl' about the experiences I had while living on this particular piece of land throughout the seasons.”

She begins the performance with an isolated vocal that echoes like wind and has a strength and certainty that feels rooted in the “divine feminine” that influences all of Campbell’s work. The deep tones of the piano create a full, dark canopy upon which Campbell and her sister, Alexa, place their rich, chorale-inspired vocals that Campbell aptly refers to as “sister harmonies.”

The chorus-like nature of their harmonies is no accident. Just as she desires a connection to nature, Campbell also craves musical experience and exploration. After writing “Great Grey Owl,” Campbell shares that she came upon “the musical compositions of 12th-century mystic Hildegard von Bingen [and] got chills when realizing that her song honoring the Holy Spirit, ‘O Virtus Sapientiae (O Wisdom),’ wove itself perfectly into the piece.”

The manner in which Campbell fuses the compositions of Hildegard von Bingen into her own music earned her a spot in Resonate Choral Arts' Homemade Jams series. The series takes entries from local singer-songwriters to a panel of judges, who then choose winners’ work to be reimagined by local composers. Arranged by Kristin Gordon George, “Great Grey Owl” will be given an entirely different life when performed by the all-female choir for their concerts this December—which you can catch at Artichoke Music on Saturday, December 2 or Curious Comedy Theater on Saturday, December 9.

Campbell's unique blend of contemporary folk-pop and 12th-century music is refreshing to say the least. Whether it be in The Rye Room or backed by a full choir, she is an individual whose artistry, imagination and capacity for collaboration makes her undeniable.

Watch Jessa Campbell perform “Great Grey Owl” live from The Rye Room below. Then look for another video from this Rye Room Session next week on the studio’s YouTube channel. - Vortex Magazine- Kelsey Greco


Still working on that hot first release.



Jessa Campbell is a rising female songstress making waves in the Portland, OR music scene. She has toured the world singing with Wayne Newton, performing as a singer on Holland America Line Cruises, working with international theatre companies and with a traveling arts production of the Carnival de Resistance.  Her experiences have left her with the desire to root down and create a home base where she and her partner raise their family a birth their touring music and skills cooperative: SEAD. Jessa recently released her first EP "Great Grey Owl", drawing from experiences living in this bioregion and from Hildegard Von Bingen's musical compositions that she fused with her original work. One of the single's off this EP,  "Great Grey Owl" was recently was chosen as a "Homemade Jams" contest winner by Resonate Choral Arts of Portland to be and performed by their choir for their Fall 2017 season. Watch for a new music video "Cedar" for one of the songs off the new EP. Jessa is currently writing and recording new music with 5 time Grammy-nominated and 28 time Dove-nominated Producer Billy Smiley out of Dark Horse Recording Studios in Nashville, TN.  She's also hosting a monthly series every 3rd Wednesday at the White Eagle with Local Roots with the intent of creating all-age spaces for musicians who are parents. 

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