Singer-songwriter Jessica Lamb is the next big thing.
Written by Lindsey Osborne
It’s been just under two years since Jessica Lamb played a song—one of her own—in public for the very first time. At the time, in spring of 2014, the singer-songwriter was studying abroad in Cambridge, England (she has a song called “Cambridge” memorializing her experience) when she decided to play the first song she ever wrote, “I Still Want You,” in a Cambridge coffee shop. “That experience kind of gave me the courage to pursue music,” she says.
Playing for the first time in front of an audience fed the love for music she’s had since she was a kid. The 22-year-old Birmingham native graduated from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, in May 2015 with a degree in vocal music. “It was always just kind of a hobby of mine that got deeper and deeper until I was doing it full-time,” Lamb says. “When I went to college, I had no idea what I wanted to major in, so I chose music. Once I chose music, I had no idea what I wanted to do with that, so I eventually started writing songs. It was never part of my plan, but I guess it just kind of found me. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
After her experience in Cambridge, Lamb decided to throw herself into pursuing music, all while continuing to earn her degree. She released her first EP, Live Sessions (recorded at home), in August of 2014 and began booking shows, mostly around the Chattanooga, Tennessee, area. She received steady positive feedback and continued writing and recording, releasing her second EP, Songs of Travel, in August of last year. The album, recorded in Florence, Alabama, at Noiseblock Studios, debuted on iTunes’s Top 100 Pop chart. “I’m very proud of the way it turned out, and it was awesome to record near the famous Muscle Shoals studios,” Lamb says. “So much great music has been made there.”
Lamb signed with her licensing representative, Castle Peak, in July of 2015, and moved home to Birmingham after her graduation. “I grew up here, my family still lives here, and I have a deep connection with this city. Because I love it so much, I want to be part of making it better. The community here is energizing, and I want to contribute to that community in the only way I know how: through music,” she says. “My hope is to make Birmingham a better city for up-and-coming artists. Our music scene has grown incredibly in the past few years with things like Sloss Fest and newer venues like Saturn and Iron City. These opportunities mainly draw bigger-name bands and have made Birmingham a place to hear great music—however, I want to help make it a great place to not only hear music, but to create it as well. Thus, I’m building a career here from the ground up and connecting with local artists to showcase the incredible talent our city holds.”
Lamb’s music has garnered her accolade after accolade in a short period of time. In April 2015, she won an online competition called ArtistSignal and was awarded a $10,000 prize. Then, after touring following the release of her album, she entered a competition with Aloft Hotel. She won—and her prize was getting to open for Ingrid Michaelson in New York City in October of 2015. “Opening for Ingrid was by far one of the highlights of my journey thus far. I’ve been a fan of hers since I was 14—it was actually after seeing her live for the first time that I decided to start playing guitar, so she’s a huge influence of mine,” Lamb says. “I freaked out when I found out I won. Up until I was actually in New York City, I don’t think I was even convinced it was really happening. I was able to spend about an hour with Ingrid and her manager one-on-one. We talked and they listened to a few of my songs and gave me some incredible advice. Then, the next night, I opened for her at the Aloft Hotel in Manhattan. I’ve never felt the way I did on that stage before, and I’ve played a lot of shows. Cloud nine, for sure. It was incredible.”
The next month, Lamb got word that two of her songs—“Let Me Be” and “Cambridge”—would be playing nationwide on Starbucks’s in-store playlist. Essentially, Lamb’s music would be exposed to thousands of ears across the country. “I’ve received tons of videos and phone calls of people saying they’re hearing my songs while they drink coffee, all the way from here in Birmingham to Chicago to Seattle,” she shares. “It’s very surreal.”
Though it seems that Lamb’s journey as a musician has really just begun, she says it’s been an extraordinary one already. “It’s crazy how everything happened so fast,” she says. “Playing music is no more or less important than any other job out there, but there’s something about it that just draws people in. I’ve met some incredible people through touring and being involved in the local music scene, and I love the community music creates. It’s really special, and I consider myself very lucky to have even a small part in that.”
Lamb is hoping to release another EP in 2016, as well as continue to tour. To follow Lamb and her music, visit jessicalambmusic.com.