Jessy Barry - Skinny Legs & All

6:58 AM Posted by Skinny Legs and All

Ever since I was born, on October 10, 1992, I have been singing. I began as any other young kid would, singing along to my favorite musicians. When I moved to Asheville in kindergarten, my mom Tami-Lu, brother Jade, and I would listen to Aretha Franklin, Carole King, James Taylor, and a huge variety of different genres. My elementary school music teacher Deborah Sizemore would tell my mother how much potential I had when I sang with the other students. Sure enough, my mom recognized this too. One day, my family was riding in the car listening to Aretha Franklin and, of course, we were all singing at the top of our lungs. My mom turned the music down and “swore she heard Aretha Franklin in her backseat”. That night she took us to karaoke and I sang “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, and “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. I remember feeling completely comfortable on stage-I wasn’t even nervous! I ended up winning $50 first prize that night and walking away with a new feeling-I had the music in me. The next day, my mom was looking through the newspaper and a local writer had written a column about me! Ever since, I have had opportunities of a lifetime and many chances to share my voice with the town.

The first few couple of years of my singing career were mostly karaoke nights and school fundraising events. When I was about 10 years old, I was asked to sing at the Crest Center-a gorgeous event-holding building with waterfalls and all-to sing for the North Carolina Senators and Congressman! It was my first official paying “gig” and I only sang one song. I was blessed to have this opportunity, not only because I was singing for the people that represent my hometown, but also because that show brought more opportunities into my life. A generous member of the Asheville community gave us tickets to see Gladys Knight sing at her local church in Fairview. It was a beautiful experience and when she was finished, she walked through the aisles of the church. I ran to the edge, handed her a demo of me singing “Midnight Train to Georgia”, and she gave me a huge hug! It was one of the most amazing moments of my life. When my mom was the “Asheville Idol”, I got to sing during intermission. I was unknowingly recorded and put on the radio the next morning with calls being placed at the station asking about me. I have gotten to sing all around Asheville for various occasions.

When I was in 8th grade, the middle school kids were offered a new elective called Jam Band. I auditioned and we immediately began making music. Our first song was “Get Back” by The Beatles. Rick Praytor, our jam band leader and manager, loved blues music as much as I did. When he asked us to suggest songs to play together, he realized that I was influenced by Motown performers and old blues musicians. He was the one who introduced me to Susan Tedeschi. We began to play blues, funk, and soul music and perform for students and parents at school. When we graduated from middle school, we all realized that we had something going for us, and decided to stay together. After a few switches in band names, band members, and studio practice areas, we established a fun little teenaged blues band. Our first gig was at a local coffee shop, and we have just kept on building our repertoire throughout the couples years that we have been playing together. We played the Springing the Blues festival in Jacksonville Florida, the International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee, and tons of other gigs. Our accomplishments have been more than rewarding. I have gotten to meet Colonel Bruce Hampton, Susan Tedeschi, and Warren Haynes among others. Throughout my singing career, I have been blessed with countless opportunities and am so thankful to have such a supportive mother. Without her, I would not have had so many accomplishments at such a young age. I cannot wait to further my music career and to continue to have fun doing so!
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