When it comes to country music, there might be very few queer names that come to mind, but Jaime Wyatt is helping change that. Jaime established herself within the scene with Felony Blues (2017) and Neon Cross (2020). From these albums, she’s been heralded by groups like NPR, Billboard, and Pitchfork as a skilled storyteller.
After the release of her 2020 album, Jaime came out as queer. Her newfound freedom around her identity has led to a powerful new single, Love Is A Place, which serves as a queer power ballad, a love letter to herself, and to the LGBTQ+ community.
Her new album, Feel Good, releases on November 3, and in January 2024 she will embark on her first official headline tour to promote the album. Not only did Jaime Wyatt get to express herself openly with Feel Good, she got to work with one of her favorite musicians to produce it. Ahead of the album’s release, we spoke to Jaime about her new single, the album, and how it felt to live publicly as her authentic self.
Your September single, “Love Is A Place,” is a queer power ballad. What was the experience like to record that and put yourself out there in that way?
The experience felt very freeing! I’d never written a love song and sang it to a woman, as I’d always tried to unconsciously avoid pronouns altogether. Or in the past, I wrote a lot of very abstract unrequited love songs, (there’s still plenty of that on this album) but it felt important to sing about a woman so clearly, for myself and for queer visibility.
You came out as Queer in 2020, and in this year alone you’ve played festivals like Newport Folk festival, Red Rocks, and performed with everyone from The Avett Brothers to The Head and the Heart. How has it felt to have these big opportunities while also getting to live publicly as your authentic self?
Well, I could literally credit those opportunities to the impact of my amazing manager, but he’d tell me it was due to my own personal growth, and I do believe that’s part of why my career has elevated. Since I came out, I’ve been on a journey of following my intuition, and it’s led me to opening doors like never before! I’ve been connecting more with people both personally and through performance. I can connect in far more meaningful ways than ever before, and I’ve been able to get out of my own way and let people help me.
What record or song are you currently obsessed with?
With your new album, Feel Good (out November 3rd and produced by Adrian Qusada of The Black Pumas), you’ve got a new feel to your music as it leans more towards a soul and blues vibe rather than the country staples that people might expect. It’s notably the first album recorded since you came out – did that drive the shift in your music, or was it something else?
Well, it is true that country doesn’t have a lot to offer a queer woman. There’s been some efforts to make things inclusive, but it’s a courtesy which cannot change the demographic of country music. That said, I’ll make all kinds of records in my career, and I study music so that I can write better music. I dove into studying piano, which is how I became fascinated by soul and old R&B music. I’m a writer and I must challenge myself to be innovative and authentic, so I can hear the muse.
Is there a queer icon in music (specifically within country, soul, and blues) that you look up to or has really helped you in your own journey? If so, who is it and why?
Orville Peck’s success has been very encouraging! Also, Brandi Carlile has been another example of an artist who was finding success while out and proud. It makes me very happy to see queer people thriving.
INTO talked with David Archuleta ahead of his 2023 performances at the LOVELOUD music festival and Got INTO It.
Who is a queer pop culture creator that deserves to be recognized?
How would you describe the upcoming Feel Good album to new and veteran listeners, and is there something you hope that your LGBTQ+ audience will hear in it in particular?
For LGBTQ+ people: This whole album is an attempt to dismantle the conditioning of heteronormativity. It’s also about the empowerment of a feminine-presenting person to break habits of compliance and accommodating, whilst practicing kindness and compassion. It’s about healing and I hope other LGBTQ+ people are inspired and validated by this music.
What would be your dream collaboration to be a part of, and why?
This is hard to say because I just made an album with one of my favorite musician/guitar players and arrangers out there today: Adrian Quesada.♦
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