Stepping out of the shadows of her band to record her debut solo release, this 2011 Voice of Urban Country winner at the Urban Country Music Festival and Top 20 finalist in the 2011 Toyota Star Maker Competition has already been making waves on the country scene.
Jess isn’t a new face on the music scene; she’s been honing her skills for years, and comes from music royalty. Her grandfather was a founding member of well-known bush band The Stringybark Band, so it’s no surprise that Jess felt a resonance with country music. As a three-year-old, Jess taught herself to play the piano, and by the age of nine she was performing in musical groups in her home town of Mudgee.
In high school she formed her own rock band McGee, which saw this powerhouse vocalist showcasing her talents, while also playing mandolin, keyboard or acoustic guitar. McGee had incredible local success for a fledgling band. They released their debut self-title EP in 2008, which the band launched at the 2008 A Day on the Green. Here, Jess performed along side acts such as Operator Please, Dragon, The Angels and Hoodoo Gurus.
In 2009 Jess participated in a compilation CD recording, Pick of the Bunch showcasing McGee’s new single, When you know, along with other local talent from the Central West. The following year, she took the definitive step and launched her solo career as a country music artist, touring Central Western NSW and Southern Queensland. Stepping out on her own was a brave step, but a natural progression for Jess which allowed her to showcase her versatility as an artist.
Jess kicked off 2011 with a great start to her solo career, being chosen as a Top 20 finalist for the Toyota Star Maker. Soon after Star Maker, Jess began to establish herself as a country music artist and continued to increase her professional status amongst the industry. She continued to tour around Central Western and Northern NSW, supporting artists such as Ladies of Jazz (Paulini, Christine Anu and Grace Knight), Luke Dickens, Uncle Bobs Jug Band and Adam Kilpatrick.
Earning the title of 2011 Voice of Urban Country at the 2011 Urban Country Music Festival in Caboolture was a great stepping stone forward for Jess. This accolade allowed her to not only record her debut album, but also star in her debut video clip for My Kinda Town- to be released this April on CMC.
In August 2011, Jess recorded and released an acoustic EP, Test for a Cowboy - a five song dedication to friend and Mudgee poet, Kevin Pye, who wrote the poems for Jess to record. Soon after, Jess was accepted into and graduated from the 2011 CMAA Country Music College in Tamworth. Her musical abilities were soon recognised and encouraged, being mentored by musicians such as Lynn Bowtell, Mike McClellan and Lawrie Minson.
Jess released her debut solo album in November 2011, titled ‘Introducing Jess Holland’ which wrapped up an incredible year of achievements. The album features ten of her own tracks including ‘Iddy Biddy Pride’, Hell & Back’ and ‘My Kinda Town’. If this album is anything to go by, country music is definitely where Jess has found her niche.
Who was your biggest musical influence growing up?
I grew up listening to the old school country music - Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Dolly, Slim Dusty.... LOVE IT!!!
Are you in a band? Have you been in bands?
I am currently in 2 bands - The Silver Spurs & McGee
If you could jam with anyone, who would it be?
What's the biggest audience you ever performed to? What's the smallest?
2008 Day On The Green in Mudgee NSW - to about 3000 people....