By ERIN McCRACKEN
Editor’s note: This story was produced by our sister publication www.flipsidepa.com
Q: How did you get into music?
A: My mom owned a dance studio — when I was younger — for about 16 years. I started dancing at the age of 3. My mom started me in piano lessons when I was 4 years old. I never really stopped. I probably started singing not to long after I was tickling the ivories. I performed in a local dinner theater — Allenberry Playhouse — as a kid. It was the coolest experience. I met a woman there who introduced me to an agent in New York.
Q: Did you get to the Big Apple?
A: I read for her, and she encouraged me to take some vocal lessons in the city. My mom would cart me to New York City every month or so. One of my first big auditions was for “Les Misérables” on Broadway probably in 1994. It was down to me and two other girls, and one of the other girls was Lea Michele. After that, they called me (to audition) for “Ragtime.” I got the part, and it was a national tour of the musical at the same time that Lea Michele was in the role on Broadway.
Q: Did you do another show?
A: After “Ragtime,” I took a break, and I went to college. Now, I have a family and I have three kids. (My) daughter … sees Lea Michele on “Glee.” And I show her pictures. We went out and got pizza the night I signed my contract. I think it’s just a great example to her. I’m just now getting into performing again. (My daughter) can see that if you are really passionate about what you do and follow your dreams, you’re not that far (from them).
Q: Did you ever get nervous on stage?
A: I was fearless as a kid. I had family with me (on tour) as they were able to be. We had close family friends stay with me. And members of (“Ragtime”) kind of became family. When you’re on a stage … and the lights are on you, you don’t really think about them as individual audience members as much as a whole audience. It kind of just becomes about telling the story. As a kid to be away from my family and be a part of a family like that telling a story about a family … made my nerves melt away. I never felt alone and I never felt nervous.
Q: Have you always lived in the Hanover area?
A: I was born in Hawaii. My parents met in the service. My dad’s family is from this area, so we moved to Littlestown in 1992. I lived there through 10th grade. I graduated from Delone (Catholic High School) and I lived in Hanover (since then). I went to York College. For those couple of years that I was on tour, I lived in Los Angeles, Vancouver and Chicago.
Q: What inspired you to get back into music?
A: I’ve never really stopped singing. It just kind of looked different throughout the years. I’ve always sung and played piano at my church — Hanover Valley Presbyterian Church. My husband has been such a huge encouragement to just share my gift. A couple of months ago, I (started) to write some music. I’m recording from the basement of our house. I’ve been online since January and have been the No. 1 singer/songwriter on ReverbNation. I have 25,000 views or something on YouTube. It’s crazy. I’m getting to reach people, and I’m getting to share my story.
Q: Did you select the charity on your page?
A: It’s actually through ReverbNation. You can basically ask that half of the cost to download your music goes to a charity. I chose Oxfam International (which is) helping Syria right now. It’s helping American families. I just thought it was a great way for people to get to both hear my music … and help in a bigger way.
Q: Are you working on an album?
A: I have a lot of short-term goals. I think the path is going to become clear the more steps I take. I’m just (going to) focus on writing music and see where this leads me. I am putting out an EP later in the spring. I’m really excited about that. On April 26 … we are doing a show at The Underside in Abbottstown. From then until the end of the summer, we have local dates and regional dates. I’m playing (piano), singing and doing some percussion and playing guitar. I have a couple friends also joining me.
Q: Are your children into music?
A: They are all very musical. We have a 9-year-old daughter, a 2-and-a-half-year-old son and a 1-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Our youngest daughter… is always singing and dancing around. Our son … is a very talented drummer I feel like for his age. My (oldest) daughter took piano lessons for years. She’s a little bit more into sports, but, of course, loves music.
Q: Any last thoughts as we wrap up?
A: I really appreciate all the support. It’s really been amazing to just reconnect with people socially all over the world and just be inspired by people. That’s what really gives me the motivation — to be able to … connect with people who are very different from me because of our similarities. I’m just thankful for everyone who’s been listening.
IF YOU GO
Hear Jessi Adams: She will perform 7 p.m. April 26 at The Underside, 1 Center Square, Abbottstown. For details, visit www.facebook.com/Underside. Contact Erin McCracken at (717) 771-2051.
Listen online: www.reverbnation.com/jessiadams