Julie Reeves Biography
Julie Reeves has a pure country voice, a sultry alto that conveys power and conviction, as well as a depth that belies her 24 years of age.
"I want who I am to come through when I sing," Julie explains. "I want people to say, 'I relate to her.' I want people to feel something. Nothing means more to me than when someone comes up after a show and says, 'You gave me chills.' I want to reach out to people through my music."
Julie, who was born and raised in Ashland, Kentucky, the same small town in the Northeast corner of the state that gave the world The Judds, comes by her passion for singing naturally. In fact, she hails from a coal-mining country that's so rich in honky-tonk singers that the Kentucky legislature renamed U.S. 23, the stretch of highway that runs through that portion of the state, "The Country Music Highway."
"Dwight Yoakam, Keith Whitley, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless, Earl Thomas Conley--a lot of singers come from up there," beams Julie. "And every so many miles there's a sign up with one of their names on it."
Not only that, she says, "every one of those singers has a certain sound. They all have this accent, this catch in their voice. You just know it when you hear it--at least I do, because I'm from there."
This quality--this soulfulness, for lack of a better word--often comes from growing up around music and learning to sing at an early age. Julie, whose grandmother and mother sang in church, and whose father fiddled around with the dobro and guitar, says that she can't remember a time when she wasn't singing.
"Every day I'd come home from school, pop in a tape, and sing my heart out," she says. "I'd sing into my hairbrush like I was onstage. I'd sing until I just wore myself out."
While she was in high school, Julie, her mother and long-time family friend Danny Craig sang at county fairs and festivals in and around Ashland. Then, encouraged by Keith Whitley's sister to try their luck in Music City, the trio moved to Nashville in 1994. Things didn't work out as planned, and the group called it quits. Julie, however, stayed in Nashville and sang demos; she also began working with a broader palette of musical styles than she had as part of the trio.
Julie's tastes had always ranged beyond the bluegrass, honky-tonk, and Southern gospel that she heard as a young girl. In addition to Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Tanya Tucker, she also loved the pop and soul-influenced records of Linda Ronstadt, Tina Turner, and Whitney Houston. What unites all of these singers, besides chops, she insists, is attitude: Each of these women conveys a strong sense of herself through her music.
Which is precisely the sense one gets from listening to It's About Time, Julie's debut for Virgin Records Nashville. The album, the label's inaugural release, is more than just a showcase for Julie's powerfully emotive singing; it also reveals her effortless command of traditional and contemporary sensibilities, as well as the ease with which she blends them.
Take the sassy "Trouble is a Woman," a juking country-rocker that evokes Emmylou Harris circa 1975. Or "If Heartaches Had Wings," a wrenching mountain ballad that shows off Julie's Appalachian roots, albeit with a distinctly '90s edge. The album's title track, a half-spoken half-sung meditation on the meaning of intimacy, has a mile-wide radio-ready groove, while "If I'd Never Loved You," a soaring, fiddle-and-steel-flecked ballad, proves just how far Julie is willing to reach inside herself to plumb the depths of a lyric.
Much of It's About Time finds Julie exploring the nature of relationships. On such barnburners as "All Or Nothing" and "What You Get is What You See," she states in no uncertain terms what she expects of a man. On "What I Need," a mandolin and steel guitar reverie that's sure be one of the album's singles, she conveys tenderness and longing without resorting to sentimentality.
Julie's ability to convey such emotion, and to do so with a mix of youthfulness and maturity, is what induced Virgin Records Nashville President and CEO Scott Hendricks--a noted producer who has worked with the likes of Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, and Faith Hill--to sign and produce her in the first place.
"Julie's voice has a richness in quality that makes you believe every word she sings," says Hendricks. "She's what people call a singer's singer. There are a lot of good singers, but what sets Julie apart is her ability to interpret the songs."
Even though Julie, since moving to Nashville, has put plenty of miles between herself and her native Appalachia, she's still mindful of her down-home roots.She counts her late grandmother, a spirited woman who wanted to pursue a career in music but didn't know how--although she did sing on radio--as a primary influence. Julie is also thrilled that her mother appears on three songs on It's About Time, and that she might tour with her. "It's so cool," says Julie, referring to singing with her mother. "Our voices blend so well that sometimes you can't tell who's singing what."
Working with her mom is but one example of how Julie embraces tradition even as she sets her sights on her more commercial career goals. "If you want to stick around in this business," she muses, "then I think it's important that you put tradition at the center of what you're about."
"And yet at the same time," she adds, "as much as I love the old music, I didn't want to go that route. I didn't want to be some kind of replica or imitation. I wanted to keep my sound rooted in tradition, but I also wanted to be able to work with that and do something that's more modern and mainstream."
As It's About Time attests, Julie has done just that. An auspicious debut, one suspects that it won't be long before there's a sign along Highway 23 with Julie Reeves' name on it.
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What a Shame | Reviewer: Shawn Balint | 3/17/2006
It is sad that such a talented artist with such a great debut album didn't break through the confusing politics surrounding late 90's country radio...
What a waste.. there are people not half as talented as her getting lots of airplay today...
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