Whether you’ve made the journey yourself or know someone who has, you’re likely familiar with the path that has led so many to this region in search of musical stardom. But in recent years, not many have traveled that road with a voice as radio-friendly as Joanna Yaeger.
Whether it’s a country hit, a tame, acoustic version of a hard-rock classic or her new single, “Wont’ Be Moved,” Yaeger delivers the goods with easy power that belies her 24 years.
“I’ve been singing since I could talk and written poems since I was a little girl,” she says. “I’d run around the house singing at the top of my lungs. I said I would do this when I was five years old.”
Early on, Yaeger won various local contests by entering talent shows and appearing in school productions in her hometown of Horseheads, a town of about 20,000 in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
She calls her move to the Nashville area a “leap of faith” with the blessing of her family. “I thank God for giving me the gift of music, and my family for encouraging me and being so supportive. Life is about trying and that’s why I’m here.”
She may come from a small town in upstate New York but she came with big-time sensibilities. Even though she knew only one other person in town upon her arrival in Brentwood two years ago, she wasted no time networking, writing, recording and promoting.
That has resulted in numerous appearances in local singer-songwriter venues, a recurring Monday evening slot at The Row Kitchen and Pub in downtown Nashville, and a recent performance for a packed house at Puckett’s Boathouse in Franklin. And it’s on stage where Yaeger excels.
“Performing is not necessarily therapy but it’s a way to put my heart out,” she says. “If I’m feeling it, someone else probably is, too. When that happens, I can affect somebody in a positive manner. Music is a good outlet for me and when someone else relates to it, it becomes the start of a conversation.”
It was during her 90-minute set at the Boathouse that Yaeger was able to engage the audience with a repertoire that transitioned between soft dinner-hour fare, pop-flavored country and emotional, but inspiring ballads like “Words They Say.” Written in 2013, the song tackles the subject of childhood bullying and was featured in Shattered Silence, a suicide-prevention documentary that appeared on GodTV.
“Growing up, everyone experiences a let down, or they’re picked-on or bullied. I was not an exception,” says Yaeger. “I believe everyone has value, but sometimes it’s hard to see that. Everyone has a purpose and is meant for greatness.”
Her set closed with a velvety version of “Won’t Be Moved,” the Nashville-penned anthem co-written with Emma Brooke and Sullivan Music. It’s the first single from her forthcoming EP produced by Jordan Sloat. “This is the first song I came out with since I’ve been in Nashville and I’m really proud of it,” says Yaeger. “The girls I wrote it with were also new to town and it’s about knowing who you are and standing your ground with your head held high.”
And few people who have traveled the road to Music City have emerged with their head held as high as Joanna Yaeger.
For more information, including tour dates and music clips, please visit JoannaYaeger.com.