When she was just nine-years-old, Jena Rose started writing songs and instantly brought both passion and purpose to her music. “I was extremely shy as a kid and always felt like other people’s songs explained my life to me and gave me a voice that I didn’t usually have,” says the Dallas-based singer/songwriter/pianist, who’s now 16. “There was point when I wanted to try to get my own feelings out in music, and try to do what all those songwriters had done for me.”
With the past seven years spent honing her artistry, Jena has now dreamed up a sublime breed of indie-pop that’s daringly honest but irresistibly melodic. On her new single “Crazy,” she teamed up with singer/rapper Sean Kingston for an unstoppable anthem about “being yourself no matter what, and recognizing that everyone’s a little crazy inside.” Fueled by heavy grooves and feel-good energy, “Crazy” proves Jena’s powerful vocal command even as she infuses each line with so much vulnerability. That dynamic also graces past singles like “Paper Walls” (a delicate yet soaring piano ballad laced with sparse beats), as well as “Turn the Page” (a slow-burning mid-tempo number that delivers a massive EDM drop). And for her forthcoming debut EP—made in New York City, Los Angeles, and Sweden—Jena pushed her songcraft even further to offer up an eclectic mix of piano-driven indie infused with pop.
In each of her songs, Jena shows a natural grasp of melody that’s closely tied to her innate understanding of music. Raised in Plano, Texas, she took up classical piano at the early age of five. “My older brother started taking piano lessons and I was so jealous that I asked to take them too,” Jena recalls. She soon began studying at a local music school, and at age nine made her stage debut at the House of Blues in Dallas. “I was so scared, but once I stepped onstage I got this feeling I’d never felt before,” says Jena. “I knew right then that that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Naming such artists as Sara Bareilles among her key influences, Jena next tried her hand at songwriting. Along with channeling a soulful sensibility into her music, she quickly forged her unique path as a self-driven creative force. “I’ve always wanted to share a big part of myself with everything I put out, and going through the creative process is what makes me feel really connected to each song,” she explains. At age 12, Jena started working with her manager and began collaborating with co-writers in the studio in New York City, and within several years started posting her original songs online. With early releases like 2015’s “Take a Breath” helping to build a devoted following, Jena has now performed at MTV’s Fashion for Charity Event, World Peace Day, High School Nation Tour and the closing gala for Arab Fashion Week in Dubai. She also holds the distinction of being named the first Goodwill Youth Music Ambassador for the United Nations-USA.
Having recently toured with pop band Why Don’t We, Jena constantly looks to the world around her for songwriting inspiration. “Because I’m so young and there’s a lot I haven’t been through, I sometimes take from other people’s experience in my songs—like my friends and family and even characters in movies,” she says. But whether she’s writing straight from her own life or playing with perspective, Jena brings an undeniably genuine spirit to each song. “One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is to stay true to myself and what I want to do with my music,” she says. “I do whatever I can to open up and be as honest as possible—because if you don’t share yourself that way, then the song isn’t going to be the best it can be. You have to put all of your heart and soul into every single song.”