Introducing…Jill Andrews

It is a balmy, August evening in the heart of NoDa, Charlotte’s Music & Arts district, and handfuls of fans litter the sidewalk outside the Neighborhood Theatre awaiting the Sam Bush show. Inside the venue a significant crowd has already taken their seats and is listening intently to the artist known to most as “the girl from The Everybodyfields.”  Only moments after Jill Andrews takes the stage, her lucid voice silencing unaware bystanders, one thing is certain; if they didn’t know her name before tonight, they will know it now.

Oh my god, I’ve found another man to help me lose my way. And oh my god, help me find another way to spend the day.

When I find Andrews after her set she is seated alone at a folding table table behind two stacks of The Everybodyfields CD’s. It is a salient image, one of a newly independent artist at the crossroads of her past success and an unknown future. That night’s performance marked Andrews’ first solo performance – ever.  The offer to perform came only days before and at the last minute Andrews decided to get in her car and make the 4 hour trip from Nashville. “I thought about it and I decided I’m just going to do it by myself. It was a really big challenge for me – I mean really big. I’ve never done that before.”

 For the bulk of her career, Andrew’s has performed, recorded and toured with The Everybodyfields, the project she co-founded with musical partner Sam Quinn in 2002. Their most recent album, 2007’s Nothing is Okay, was perceived by many as a concept album; a soundtrack to the band’s unraveling and the ending of Andrews’ and Quinn’s relationship. I recall a performance in Greensboro where Sam suggested that the band was about to break up but instead, they made a record. Andrews remembers this as well and is concerned with setting the record straight. “It wasn’t that contrived” she admits backstage, thoughtfully munching on an apple. “Sam always made it sound that way like, ‘God, we’re having all these problems so let’s make a record.’ But for me, it was much more this is how I’m feeling so this is what I’m going to write about.”

 You took away the candy from my mouth and filled it up with really old saltines. But boy did everything get figured out by changing my reality to dreams.

It is nearly impossible to discuss Andrews’ musical history without discussing her relationship to Quinn. The two met as camp counselors when they were both 19 and began playing music together shortly thereafter. “Sam was a huge influence on me – no bones about it. It was a combination of him and some other people who played guitar, and wrote songs and I was like ‘Whoa, I’ve got to do this.’ There is no reason why I’m not doing this except that I don’t know how to play anything.” Andrews, who had always been a singer, returned from camp and promptly bought a guitar. She taught herself a few chords and began writing immediately, never learning any songs aside from her own. “At first I was really bashful about it, and my songs really sucked, of course. But they got better.”

 So you had a dream that the devil came by your door and whispered through the screen you’ll have beauty and nothing more

Andrews is responsible for penning or co-penning a large part of The Everybodyfields’ catalogue, and has just finished her first solo recoding, a six song EP available on her website. If the singer herself is bashful, her songs most certainly are not. With a voice that sounds as if it came straight from the heavens, Andrews narrates the turmoil of human experience with the grace of an angel. Her songs are accessible, but not simple; catchy without being predictable. Whether she’s singing about family dynamics, romance and heartache, or life on the road, Andrews’ emotional integrity transcends classification. When I ask her how she writes about such personal topics so bravely and so openly, she responds with the same honesty heard in her songs: “I have no idea,” she laughs. “I really don’t. I think I do hide behind my music. For me to say what I sing…” Andrews pauses and smiles sheepishly before admitting “I would never be able to say it. When I’m on stage and I talk I’m like, ‘God, you’re an idiot.’ But when I sing, I could sing anything. I think it’s just that I do have confidence in my voice and that’s one thing I’ve got.”


One thought on “Introducing…Jill Andrews

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s