I've got a confession to make. I love country music. Since my early teens in fact. I spent many an hour listening to Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt to name just a few. To some of my UK readers you'll probably be going, who? And believe me as a teenager in a northern town in the mid 90s, it wasn't something you'd admit to either!
Things have changed a bit since then and that's probably down to the popularity of TV show Nashville (oh my god I love it). So when I was contacted by a chap representing a group called Jess and the Bandits I was really intrigued and even more so because Jess herself has been chosen as an ambassador for the Evans #StyleHasNoSize campaign. A Plus Size Country chick? I'm on board!
I sent some questions through to Jess who was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer them!
Being a complete country nerd, I spent my teenage years listening to likes of Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood, who were your musical influences growing up?
Those are a lot of the same ones I listened to as well! In fact it was Trisha Yearwood, Reba, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston who I was constantly singing along to. I actually saw Trisha in concert with Garth Brooks last weekend and she was AMAZING! I still want to be like her when I grow up.
If you could do a duet with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
Oh that’s a tough one. I think it would be amazing to do a duet with Frank Sinatra. He’s a legend after all and one of the most iconic voices that we’ve ever had.
For those that haven't heard your music yet, how would you describe it?
I would definitely say it is more contemporary country rather than traditional. You can hear the influences of pop and rock through out the songs which is what I think makes it easy for people that don’t “like country music” to enjoy. Also at the same time still catering to the country music fans.
Do you think the country music scene in comparison to the pop world is less image driven?
Absolutely…not! I wish this weren’t the case but if you look at a lot of the newer female country singers, the formula seems to be the same in terms of image. That being said, the public is less image driven based on what they want from the artists and bands they are fans of. Isn’t that always the case though? We don’t really care what the singer looks like, we just want to hear good music. The music industry on the other hand is completely superficial. With country music, I think the song is a lot more important at the end of the day, than the look. Pop music is the opposite.
What three words would you use to describe your style?
Comfortable, Classy and Sexy! Yes it is possible to be comfortable and look amazing at the same time haha.
What advice would you give your 13 year old self?
Stop beating yourself up and if you go on another diet I’m going to knock you out! Weight is going to be a battle for you, don ’t let it define you. You’ll see that people will love you anyway. Just be you and be confident. Everything else will fall into place.
It takes guts to get up on stage and perform in front of a crowd, do you have any tips on feeling confident?
For me, that is when I feel my most confident. When you are getting in front of people or doing something out of your comfort zone, you have to get out of your head. All of the worries that you have about yourself, no one is cares. So even if you aren’t feeling extremely confident, my motto has always been, fake it till you make it! Believe it or not, that will start to flow over into who you really are and before you know it, you won’t be faking it anymore!
You're performing at this years British Plus Size Awards, what can we expect from a Jess and the Bandits performance?
We are so excited for this! Our hope is to inspire people with our music and make sure people have fun. We definitely aren’t those types of performers who just stand around and sing. We like to put on a show, so that’s the plan!
As an ambassador for the Evans #StyleHasNoSize campaign do you have any style tips for the plus size ladies out there?
Get outside of the box! I am so guilty of this myself but I’m also working to get out of my comfort zone and wear things I wouldn’t normally wear. Find the things about yourself and focus on those. If you have great legs, show them! Wear a fabulous pair of shorts, wedges and a kimono top and work that look. There will always be things we don’t like, so style around it. I don’t like my legs very much at all so I have really got into the whole midi skirt trend. Find some great skirts and throw a crop top with it. This will also give you the chance to experiment with crop tops without going TOO far out of your comfort zone.
A huge thank you to Jess for answering my questions! As part of Jess' collaboration with Evans, you could star in the video for Jess and the Bandits next single! To be in with a chance, Jessica wants entrants to share their own personal body confidence mantra by writing it on a piece of paper, taking a snap of themselves with it and sharing at evans.co.uk/stylemantra OR using the hashtag #EvansStyleMantra @evansclothing @JessTheBandits on Twitter or Instagram.
**Post in collaboration with Jess and the Bandits**