Those long commutes between Martinsville and the northside of Indianapolis offered plenty of time for twang.
Jamie Nichole Haywood had never been much of a country fan. The Martinsville-based musician had been playing music for most of her life, and folk and pop were more her focus.
But as her career has progressed, she’s been drawn toward the country music end of the spectrum. So to teach herself to sing in that mode, she used the time in the car driving to her job as a golf pro at Prairie View Academy in Carmel to learn.
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“To try to recreate more songs geared towards pop-country, on my drive to work in Carmel I’ll put it on country stations and just listen, or turn it down low to create my own melodies on top of what I’m hearing,” she said. “That’s seemed to work pretty well.”
While working on her new sound, Haywood is a developing a reputation around Indiana and beyond for her introspective music and stirring lyrics. When she’s not teaching golf, she’s traveling throughout Indiana and the Midwest to perform her intimate brand of folk, Americana and pop.
Haywood will perform on Saturday at the Pixy Theatre in Edinburgh. She sat down with the Daily Journal to share her approach to music both when she’s writing and when she’s on stage.
What led you toward music in the first place?
Music’s always been my thing. I never really had lessons or anything, I just did it. I’d listen to the radio and have my little Walkman tapes, and just try to sound like whoever I was singing.
How did that work?
If I was listening to the Bangles, I’d try to sound like the Bangles. If I was listening to the Dixie Chicks, I tried to sound like the Dixie Chicks. That really helped me with my singing, to recreate the sounds I was hearing.
How did you learn how to play guitar?
I didn’t start teaching myself to play guitar until pretty much my freshman year of college (at Ball State University). I bought a guitar and learned to play a few chords. Once I could do that, I just started doing open mic nights.
As you started playing more, how did you develop the style that you’re using now?
I’ve always been drawn to pretty, melodic types of music. Definitely slower; I was never into a lot of rock stuff. If the voice is good and the lyrics are good, I’ll like it.
Who is an artist or artists who had a big impact on you?
Patty Griffin is my favorite artist. I cover quite a few of her songs at shows. Jewel, I always liked her music when I was growing up. When I was kid, I didn’t really listen to country very much, but now I find myself trying to write a little bit more geared to country music. I’m working with a producer in Nashville who would like for me to write these country songs to pitch towards some emerging female artists down there. They won’t give the names of who they are, so my job is to just write these songs.
For someone who didn’t listen to much country growing up, how do you get into that mindset?
I listened to Faith Hill when I was younger and the Dixie Chicks. That was about it for country music. But for a short amount of time, I did DJ at the local radio station, so I definitely got familiar with more country when I was there.
When you’re writing your own original music, what is your inspiration?
I don’t write about myself or personal experiences. Maybe some of my earlier songs were about that, like silly relationships from high school or college. But I write about other people. I was a server at a restaurant for a while, and I’d write about the people there — their relationships, the stuff going on in their lives. I used that as inspiration. I got a lot of good stuff.
How do you take that and turn it into a song?
As far as writing the song itself, it seems like I would come up in my head with a kind of melody or hook phrase in a song. Then I would build the verses around that. From that, I would go to the guitar and try to find some pattern that goes with what I’m singing. Maybe that’s a backward way of doing it, but it seems like that process works for me.
With your live performances, how do you try to capture the audience?
I want the audience to be affected by a feeling. What I’m singing when I’m singing, I want them to walk away having connected with it emotionally. I want them to feel how I feel when I listen to a Patty Griffin song — that it relates to them somehow.
What: The Martinsville-based singer-songwriter will perform her original blend of Americana, folk and pop.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Pixy Theatre, 111 S. Walnut St., Edinburgh
Information: theedinburghpixy.com or facebook.com/jamienicholemusic