Photos © 2018 by: Roman Sobus
When she was just nine-years-old, Jena Rose started writing songs and instantly brought both passion and purpose to her music. “I was extremely shy as a kid and always felt like other people’s songs explained my life to me and gave me a voice that I didn’t usually have,” says the Dallas-based singer/songwriter/pianist, who’s now 16. “There was a point when I wanted to try to get my own feelings out in music, and try to do what all those songwriters had done for me.”
In each of her songs, Jena shows a natural grasp of melody that’s closely tied to her innate understanding of music. Raised in Plano, Texas, she took up classical piano at the early age of five and quickly began to master the instrument. But despite her love of piano, Jena eventually grew restless with the classical approach. “We’d just go from song to song in my teacher’s book of sheet music, and after a while I started to stray from my original love of playing,” she says. By the time she was nine, Jena had moved on to contemporary piano, and immediately found that love reignited. “When I got to play songs that I grew up listening to, it was so freeing to me and so much more in line with what I wanted to do musically,” she says.
It was at this age Jena had a major breakthrough – her piano teacher introduced her to the art of improvisation. “I was tired of doing covers, so I learned to experiment with different chords and make my own music,” she says. That very night, while Jena’s parents were out at dinner, she sat down at the piano and attempted her first song. By the time her mom and dad returned, she’d created a carefully arranged pop number complete with full verses, chorus, and bridge. “I played it for my voice teacher the next day and she said to me, ‘Wow—this is a real song!’ That really gave me the confidence to just keep writing and try out new ideas, and not be afraid to say what I feel with my music,” says Jena. Naming such artists as Sara Bareilles among her key influences, Jena channeled a soulful sensibility into her songs and soon forged a path as a self-driven creative force with a musical depth well beyond her years. “I’ve always wanted to share a big part of myself with everything I put out, and going through the creative process is what makes me feel really connected to each song,” she explains.
With the past seven years spent honing her artistry, Jena has now dreamed up a sublime breed of indie-pop that’s daringly honest but irresistibly melodic. Her upcoming single “Sweet Love” combines Jena’s signature indie pop/singer-songwriter style with entrancing EDM elements. In the song, Jena, backed by her intricate and hypnotic vocals, blissfully tells the story of a broken relationship that leaves her wanting one single thing: a sweet, simple love. Her indie-pop dynamic also graces past singles like
“Loved” (a seductive slow burner laced with subtle EDM details), as well as “Lost At Sea (a delicate piano ballad dedicated to her late grandmother). Her forthcoming debut EP is a collection of songs written entirely by Jena on her piano. She recruited Grammy nominated writer and producer Druski (Tori Kelly, Zendaya) to elevate her songs even further, and the result is a sparkling, eclectic mix of piano-driven indie infused with pop that is set to be released in early 2018.
Having toured with pop band Why Don’t We, as well as AJR, MAX, R5, Sabrina Carpenter, and on the High School Nation tour alongside Plain White T’s, Jena constantly looks to the world around her for songwriting inspiration. “Because I’m so young and there’s a lot I haven’t been through, I sometimes take from other people’s experience in my songs—like my friends and family and even characters in movies,” she says. But whether she’s writing straight from her own life or playing with perspective, Jena brings an undeniably genuine spirit to each song. “One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is to stay true to myself and what I want to do with my music,” she says. “I do whatever I can to open up and be as honest as possible—because if you don’t share yourself that way, then the song isn’t going to be the best it can be. You have to put all of your heart and soul into every single song.”