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JAMIE O’NEAL FINDS HER PRESENT IN THE PAST
She was just a baby when her mom would sing Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” to her and only 10 years old when she listened from the side of the stage as The Gatlin Brothers sang “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’ Today.” And as a lovelorn 16-year-old, she listened in her bedroom to Juice Newton belt out “The Sweetest Thing.”
Those melodies still haunt – and inspire – her.
“I have carried a lot of these songs with me in the back of my mind,” said O’Neal, whose new album, Eternal, drops on May 27. “I am not a traditional Country artist as far as songwriting goes, but I love singing traditional Country.”
Produced by O’Neal and her engineer/musician/husband Rodney Good, Eternal is her first album since Brave in 2005. That, along with O’Neal’s unique vocal styling and selection of timeless songs, makes Eternal sound just like coming home.
In particular, O’Neal finds the essence of the female-sung classics of Country Music’s past, from Patsy Cline’s “Leavin’ on Your Mind” (written by Webb Pierce and Wayne Walker) to Loretta Lynn’s No. 1 hit from 1967, “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” (Lynn and Peggy Sue Wells).
“There was desperation and vulnerability from the female singers back then,” said O’Neal. “We have come into this era where females do not want to put out weak songs. No one wants to write or sing about the bleeding heart anymore. I don’t think it is weak to be vulnerable. I don’t think it’s weak to say you need somebody. That place where you feel needy? That’s real. Everyone wants to paint this strong message, but we are not always that strong.”
While O’Neal might be comfortable with showing her vulnerability in song, she has established herself in the Country Music industry as a strong, confident executive. She’s accomplished much as head of her own record label, Momentum Label Group, and producer for its flagship artist Rachele Lynae. Yet, she insists, she has two albums of her own ready to go after Eternal.
“I love bluegrass. And I have always wanted to do a gospel album. Plus, my daughter is now playing guitar. Other than telling her to never date a musician,” she said, pausing a moment for laughter, “I tell her that if she writes and plays without being told, music just might be in her genes too. The industry is so hard that if you don’t love it, you shouldn’t do it. You have to have a burning desire to perform. You have to absolutely love it.”
Jamie O’Neal discusses her new release here: