Jessica Carter Altman Still pinches herself that she was brave enough to take a leap of faith and follow her dreams – which served as the inspiration for her latest single, “Naïve.”
“I always asked my dad what my worst quality was and he always told me that I was a bit naive, but that it was also one of my best qualities,” the 33-year-old singer revealed in an exclusive interview with Us weekly. “So I wanted to write a song about being a little naive and how beautiful it actually is because it allows you to be a dreamer and really go after what you want.”
Altman was on the verge of becoming a lawyer before she turned to music – but she realized that a career in law wouldn’t challenge her as much as she’d hoped. “I’m really grateful for these experiences,” she shares. “But there was a difference between finding something stimulating, intellectually interesting and having fun with it, versus something you were passionate about.”
According to the musician, she never looked back. “Every day I’m just incredibly grateful to be able to do this for a living and I truly love every moment,” Altman continues. “It’s not just about being on stage and seeing the things that people see from the outside, but also about writing songs, recording and practicing singing lessons. It’s really everything from top to bottom.”
Keep scrolling to know more about the rising singer:
About what inspired her to make music
For as long as I can remember, I have truly loved music and performing. During my first chorus in first grade and my first band in seventh grade, I just played and sang constantly. But growing up in DC, there really aren’t many entertainers that I grew up with other than my mom. And so it just felt ridiculous to want to be a musician. That being said, I was very raised to value education, so there was truly never a moment where I didn’t believe I wouldn’t go to college. I then studied law and at some point the inertia of doing well in school got the better of me and I decided to get a university degree. I am very grateful for this whole experience. But there was always this tormenting and almost painful feeling [when] I went to a concert and saw someone perform and I was happy to be there. I love live music, but it was almost painful. I would look at the stage and think: Why isn’t that me? Why don’t I do that? And at some point it was just too much and I realized that I would always regret not following my dreams and passions. I remember talking to my father. I was studying law at the time and told him that I wanted to be a musician. He really supported me in achieving my dreams and encouraged me to do what I want.
About changing careers
When I had this conversation with my father, I had already been on stage a lot and had immersed myself in music again. I put so much time and energy into becoming a lawyer, I completed my law school and graduated. I went to the University of Michigan. I had a job waiting for me in DC at Gibson Dunn and Crutcher. After I graduated, I hit the bar to complete the whole experience. Most people who take the bar exam do an attorney visit before starting at their firm, clerkship, or wherever they go. I decided to drive to Nashville and set up a series of meetings. On this trip I met my producer and started working on my first EP called No rules. I knew at the time that I wanted to make the complete switch, but I was so inexperienced in this industry that I decided to pursue both at the same time, so I went to my law firm anyway. I practiced there for almost three years while driving to Nashville on the weekends to record and perform. I am very grateful to everyone, my producer and everyone I worked with because they were very good about my schedule knowing that I was practicing and working as a lawyer full time.
About her mother Lynda Carter’s appearance
I obviously learned a lot from my mother. A lot of it really had to do with music, watching her perform, and the band and musicians she put together. I learned a lot from her example. She is an amazing storyteller. She is a great entertainer. I remember the first time I saw her on stage. She had actually stopped performing when I was growing up and then started performing again when I was in high school. And there’s this part of her that really came alive on stage. It is completely authentic to herself and her personality. Watching someone do something they really enjoy doing and are excited about is something that really comes to life and is almost exhilarating to watch. I got to perform with her a little and learned so much from her. I am very grateful that she gave me the space to find my own voice and personality and pave my own path.
About her dream collaborator
I just did this gig at the Hotel Café [in Los Angeles] Where John Mayer occurs all the time. I would like to work with him. I also regularly sing one of his covers in my sets, which would be incredibly cool. I’m trying to manifest that.
On “What’s Next?”
My new EP aftermath will be released on November 3rd. This will also be the theme song and is really the theme of all my future releases for the next year. We’ve all had different experiences with the pandemic: so many people have experienced loss and hardship, and that’s real [brings up the question] about what happens after something tragic, difficult, or life-changing. What I have personally found is that life goes on and you have this sadness and changes, but there are still so many beautiful things that continue to happen. That’s really the theme that I’ve been playing around with and exploring, and it’s been very cathartic.
With reporting by Andrea Simpson