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Jen Lilley’s Move to Music Pays Off

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Indie Series Award nominee in 2015 for best lead actress, Jen Lilley has flipped the script and begun her career as the singer she “always” wanted to be. After recently dropping her new single called “King of Hearts,” she talked about her ideologies, religious beliefs, women empowerment, and interests.

Fashioned after 1960’s girl groups, the song is getting some traction, as Lilley was named “Artist of the Month” on Bigtime Radio, a European online radio stations that broadcasts in more than 43 countries.

 

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“When I was little I always wanted to be a singer… but as I got older, I didn’t think it was practical. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself and I decided to pursue acting,” she said the actress known for her work on “Days of Our Lives” and the 5-time Academy Award winning film “The Artist.”

She began training for acting in college and got negative feedback about pursuing her dream as a singer. “I was told that I could never do it because I didn’t know a soul,” she said.

She decided to “make a name for herself as an actress first” in hopes to one day venture into her music. “I let singing go to the wayside. and I hadn’t been using my voice.”

Three years ago, she did a remake of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” explaining, “It did very well…we barely promoted it.” She then did another Christmas album titled “Tinsel Time” and occurred to be a “bucket list” project to Lilley. “Who can mess up Christmas songs,” she said.

Some of the songs were recorded at Capitol Studios, where she did the entire album in two weeks. She said fans were thrilled by this project and inquired a “real album.”

At a charity event for children, she met Pamela Conley Ulich, former mayor of Malibu. “I didn’t mention my singing to her because during that time I didn’t consider myself a singer.” In fact, Lilley’s husband bragged about the “Tinsel Time” album she had done was #1 on Amazon. The album featured musicians Greg Field (Dean Martin’s drummer), Chuck Bufgor (Dean Martin’s and Frank Sinatra’s bass player) and Tom Renyer (Barbra Streisand pianist).

In response, Ulich happily mentioned a former neighbor, Adrian Gurvitz, and strongly recommended Lilley to work with him. They never had a chance to exchange the info and Lilley regretted it. “I went back to my hotel room and regretted that I didn’t get that info from her.”

She ran into Ulich at Starbucks in the Phoenix airport.  “It’s funny because when I went back to my hotel, I regretted the fact that I didn’t give you Adrian’s info,” Ulich explained to her. “Promise me you will call [Adrian]…give me your word.”

“I gave her my word,” Lilley said. However, weeks passed and she felt horrible because she hadn’t contacted Adrian as of yet.

“I saw Andra Day perform at the Movie Guide Awards… she will melt your face off,” said Lilley. Once she found out that Andra was produced by Adrian Gurvitz , she said, “I whipped out my phone and texted him right then and there.”

The Album

King of Hearts Jen LilleyWhile recording the album, Lilley explains the struggles she had with her voice. “If I sing that in falsetto, I could do it,” she told Gurvitz. “I call him ‘Boss’ because of the movie Million Dollar Baby.

“He’d say, ‘I know you can hit that not. Yes, you can. [But] you don’t sing in falsetto in classical music,'” said Lilley, impersonating Gurvitz.

In times of despair, she would listen to Bob Dylan, who she feels is not a great singer but a great storyteller. One of the key things she learned was telling a story and not just singing the notes.

Frustrated at times, Lilley would get back into the booth and do it over and over again. People tend to limit themselves by the “glass ceiling” established by society, she noted. “Once you break that glass ceiling, you can do it every time.”

She has been working on the album for two and half years. The album tells a “story of love and lost and relationship,” and  King of Hearts is “one chapter in the storybook,” she says. “Whether romantic or not, we all have a relationship with someone.”

Lilley also has other passions that drive her. She has been involved in charities specifically for child abuse. “If I can take a little bit of the pain away from them…it gives them something to cling to for the rest of their lives,” she said.

 

 

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The Movie

 Jen Lilley Mingle All the WayLilley is the leading lady in the upcoming Hallmark film “Mingle All the Way,” premiering Saturday, December 1st. The movie tells the story of Molly (Jen Lilley), who is the founder of the app also titled “Mingle All the Way,” which is designed to pair busy professionals together for upcoming events, without long-term romance. Molly is determined to prove to her family that it is a success and joins the app where she meets another busy professional, Jeff (Brant Daugherty). When Molly and Jeff are matched, they are both horrified to realize they’ve already had not one, but two disastrous previous encounters. Nevertheless, they agree to stay matched for all their respective upcoming holiday engagements. As the pair gets closer, perhaps their business arrangement might turn into something more this holiday season.

Beyond entertainment, she is known for advocating children’s rights and supports charities that focus on protecting children against physical and sexual abuse, human trafficking, and the world water crisis. She recently became a foster parent and is a celebrity ambassador for the child abuse and treatment organization Childhelp, ECPAT, and The Dave Thomas Foundation.

Whether acting or singing, she doesn’t give up easily and believes you should give your best no matter what you do. “If they can’t see it, then it’s their own fault. You’re not responsible for that.”

She explained that “having humor to laugh when everything doesn’t go as planned” will help in the long run. “Life is full of oppositions but my philosophy is if you don’t ask, the answer is no already.”

She chose the ’60s era for her album because “it is very uplifting.” She said, “I can remember rolling down the windows in the summertime and having a good time.”

Her musical inspirations are Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Aretha Franklin, and ’90s music. Her album reflects the passion and highlights some of the experiences she had been through in her life.

“It is not all personal stories and reflects only some mirror images,” she said. The album is an collaboration and Lilley co-wrote with Lauren Crissty. “I wanted the album to have a universal relation,” she said.

Produced by Adrian Gurvitz (Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder), with string arrangements by Rosie Danvers and her 50 piece orchestra recorded in London (Adele, Kanye West), Eric Wortham on keys (Adele), Peter Randall on Bass (Adele), Dean Parker on guitar (Michael Jackson, Diana Ross), and Greg Bassinett on drums (Ringo Starr), the album highlights topics such as self-value, relationship issues, and empty promises. Lilley said, “If you’re reading this, you were born on purpose and with a purpose…and sometimes you are better off alone.”

She stressed the fact that women can do more together than alone. “When women support each other incredible things happen,” she said.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Cher van Egmond

    November 22, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Awesome read. I love Jen Lilley and Bigtime radio. Looking forward to them broadcasting to South Africa.

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