With her American Idol contract up, Jess Lamb is pushing her career forward and reveling in her independence
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 20, 2015
While Jess Lamb's journey on American Idol was short, she has been spending her post-Idol
time productively and is poised to take the next step on May 30 with the release of her first official single,
by Jac Kern
10 days ago
at 11:30 AM | Permalink
Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings
Nick Offerman and Megan
Mullally were in town this weekend for a performance on their Summer of 69: No
Apostrophe tour. You may know them as Ron Swanson and Tammy Two from Parks and Recreation, and Megan will be
forever immortalized as Karen from Will
& Grace, and the two are actually married in real life. The show could
best be described as part-comedy, part musical sextacular.
The two went back and forth
between talking about how they each lost their virginity, how they met and when
they got married and singing raunchy songs about stuff like 69ing and
gang-banging Jesus. Nick played guitar and Megan played ukulele.
They also got the audience
involved. A couple came onstage for a Newlyweds
Game-style bit that was predictable but funny. After Nick and Megan shared
a longtime argument with the crowd and we picked sides (Megan won!), she
decided it was time to see what else was out there and picked a single guy from
the audience to go on a date with her onstage. I have no idea who this dude was
— Was he planted there? A rising local comic? Just a random guy with impeccable
comedic timing? — but he was probably the most hilarious guest to be brought on
stage in all of standup comedy. He played along with Megan’s advances and threw
shade at Nick (sadly providing music on their date). He may have gone solo to
the show but there is no doubt in my mind he found a ladyfriend that night.
All in all, it was a
gut-busting, nasty but also super sweet 90-minute show. THEY’RE SO IN LOVE! Of
note: Nick looked just as expected, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans, but
he was sans mustache (just some overall stubble) and had a cool, new undercut
hairstyle going on (that one that every dude has now); I don’t know how I expected Megan to be dressed but I was surprised
to see her in JNCO-style wide leg jeans and a casual T-shirt (reason No. 564
why she’s my hero); they ended the performance with a dance number to Carly
Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better,” which ended with Nick apparently hurting
himself, as evidenced by a facial expression of pain followed by limping
offstage. Hope you’re OK, Nick!Check out our interview with Nick Offerman here.
Ever notice the way Owen
Wilson says, “Wo-oow” in movies? Here are all of those times.
A new American Idol was crowned last night and I don’t care who the winner
was (it’s this guy) because it’s not Jess Lamb. But it is worth noting that
next season of Idol — its 16th — will
be the last. I wish it was because everyone realized that televised music
competitions are complete bullshit (case in point: JESS LAMB), but it’s
probably just because everyone likes The
Also in the cancellation
club: The Mindy Project, which is a
goddamn crime. Mindy Kaling is a goddess and the show was really hitting a
great stride (despite Adam Pally leaving — love that guy) and the last season
ended with Mindy (the character) very pregnant and baby daddy Danny traveling
to India to meet her parents. Thankfully, there’s chatter about the show moving
Other shows hat bit the bust this year include Backstrom, CSI (after 15
years!), The Following, Marry Me, Mulaney, Revenge, Selfie and Weird Loners.
Feminist icon Supreme Court
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is getting a biopic and Natalie Portman will star
as a young Notorious RBG.
Miley Cyrus’ brother Trace
(known best for dating Disney person Brenda Song
and being in Metro Station, the band responsible for this song
that played on repeat in every Journeys across America in 2008) was supposedly denied
entrance to an area bar over the weekend. Trace posted a video on Instagram claiming Brothers Bar &
Grill at Newport on the Levee — in his home
state — would not let him in due to his excessive tattoos. I don’t know
what’s more hilariously pathetic: people complaining about businesses on social
media; a celeb sibling partying in freaking Newport; said person being denied
access to a bar in Newport; the fact that Brothers has any sort of limits on
the types of people that can enter; or the last sentence of this story.
by Nick Grever
11 days ago
at 09:51 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati singer Jess Lamb prepares for the release of her new reworked single, “Memories”
Since Jess Lamb’s time on American Idol, she has been busy getting her name and brand out in the public eye. She has played constantly at venues old and new, teamed up with other local musicians for projects and made many TV and radio appearances around Cincinnati. Up until this point, her output has been largely live performances and outreach. But now that her contract with American Idol is in its final month, she is taking the next step to continue growing in her career, starting with the release of her first single to radio on March 30.The single, “Memories,” should be familiar to most of Lamb’s fans already. “This is a song that I’ve released through iTunes and performed as an indie artist, with just a simple, master mix in 2010,” Lamb says. However, the song has been updated and revitalized by superstar producer David Sisko.Sisko has worked with artists like Justin Timberlake, Destiny’s Child and Kelly Clarkson, just to name a few. What sets his version of the track apart from the original is twofold. First, Sisko has an obvious ear for what makes a Pop song successful. The new version is fuller, with layered vocals (all recorded by Lamb) and thicker instrumentation. Sisko also worked in hooks that loop into the listener’s ear and don’t let go. When the guitar and bass drop out for a chorus, leaving only a tribal drum beat and Lamb’s vocals, it becomes obvious that the song could easily find a home on any Pop radio station across the country.The second change that Sisko brought to the table was his eagerness and ability to produce Lamb’s vocals, which she has never experienced before. “I’ve never had someone say, ‘I want to produce your vocals.’ I’ve been putting music out since 2010 and no one has ever said, ‘Why don’t you try this Jess,’ ” Lamb says. What results is a track wherein Lamb’s already powerful vocals are tuned to a fine edge. Sisko put great care into keeping the heart of the track intact to craft a song that maintains the original’s sultry ambience, but dials up the energy to more Pop-friendly levels.While Lamb is excited at the proposition of turning her originals into more Pop-friendly versions, she is taking great care to insure that the end results stay in her control.“I own that master and I plan to own each master. It’s kind of hard with the money to keep up,” Lamb says.This isn’t a normal practice for most musicians, especially for acts like Lamb who aren’t rolling around in platinum record-levels of money. But she is adamant on maintaining a handle on what is released under her name. “I’m really starting to buy into the really independent artist. I’m going to own my master, which is a big deal. I could have done this with Sisko and signed a production deal, which is what most everyone does. They don’t have the money so they sign a production deal and he owns that master,” she says.Lamb plans on releasing remixed versions of her songs throughout the summer, with “Dig Deep” following shortly after the release of “Memories.” She is set on putting out each track the same way, utilizing the contacts she has made over the past months to release each track without any sort of major label or other interference. She is ascribing to the indie artist mentality from beginning to end and insuring that the music that is put out under her name is something she truly believes in and cares about.Ultimately, this is just the beginning of what Lamb hopes to do once she is released from American Idol’s contract (which limits certain industry/career moves). The groundwork that she has laid in the preceding months will finally have more building blocks laid upon them at the end of May and “Memories” is just the first stone of many. Ultimately, she wants to stay stationed in Cincinnati and grow her career from the city she calls home. Whether she performs her works herself or passes them to other artists is up in the air at this point, but one outcome could easily feed into the other. “I have songs that I’m sitting on that could be reproduced for other artists, because I really do want to make a living writing and performing. That’s where my heart is. That’s where I feel that I shine the most and I feel like I’m being backed in those ways,” Lamb says.In many ways, “Memories” is simultaneously a finish line and a starting point for Lamb. It shows just how far she has come since the Kansas City tryouts on American Idol, but it is also her springboard into a much larger and more demanding pool. But with a world-class producer working with her, a city full of supporters behind her and her own raw talent, she’s determined to make a big splash.Nick Grever’s Beyond Idol Chatter blogs follow the post-American Idol activities, career moves and achievements of Cincinnati vocalist Jess Lamb.
by Nick Grever
58 days ago
Post American Idol, Cincinnati’s Jess Lamb scales back but continues her teaching job
For some musicians, their 9-to-5 is little more than a means to an end. Pizza and guitar strings don’t pay for themselves, after all. Others take pride in their work, both on stage and in the “real world,” but view them as two parts of a whole.But for Jess Lamb, her twin identities as a musician and teacher are deeply intertwined. She works hard in both professional avenues and has put a large amount of effort into maintaining them, even during her post-American Idol influx of activities. It’s a balancing act with some unexpected complications that she is still learning to walk gracefully. But for Lamb, there is no other choice.“I think that the public has seen me as a teacher and I don’t want my name to be tainted by this other persona, this other career, this other life. So I don’t want to be slosh drunk. I don’t want to be like Jim Morrison in my experimenting with life. But at the same time there’s a whole other vibe with playing in venues, playing in bars and it is very different from the teacher thing,” Lamb explains.Before Idol, Lamb’s work as a musician and an ESL teacher were more easily separated. Nowadays, with the added exposure that Idol has brought to her and her late-night performances around town, she has had to go to greater lengths to protect the sanctity of both. A shot of Jameson may not be thrown back with the same careless abandon as a few months prior and photo ops are utterly devoid of the counter-cultural staples of, say, a middle finger or devil horns. This isn’t to say that Lamb was or is a reckless partier at night and a quiet bookworm during the day.Rather, what happens at night can bleed into the daylight hours and her work in one aspect of life can’t compromise the other. She has to take into account who her new audience members may be and how they learned of Lamb. Being a teacher requires maintaining professionalism at all times. When a teacher is shown on national television, keeping that even-headed mentality all day and all night becomes even more important.Considering all the time that Lamb has spent on her music after her Idol run, some may wonder why she doesn’t put the teaching on hold for the time being. Between the Idol recaps she does regularly for Fox 19 since leaving the show, the myriad interviews, the residencies at Japps in Over-the-Rhine and Jags in West Chester (as well as other shows), the studio work and all the other opportunities that have arisen, finding time for teaching is pretty much impossible at this point. In fact, Lamb has cut down her teaching work to roughly four hours a week, doing basic lesson planning and similar activities. But she still carves out time for her teaching for a very important purpose.“I don’t do it for the money, it’s not sustaining me. I do it for my spirit. It’s for something that feels important, I don’t know that what I’m doing all the time feels important,” Lamb says.She views being a teacher and an entertainer as two professions with two different contributions to society. Music and teaching both give something back to the community at large, but she feels that teaching impacts the public on a much larger scale. While singing in a smoky bar reaches a small amount of people, teaching has a much larger reach.Ultimately, Lamb is a musician and teacher in equal measure. At this point, the music is taking more of her time, but she is determined to not let it take all of it.“I don’t want to cancel out one or the other with a teacher persona that’s too square or a Rock star persona that’s too crazy and unstable,” Lamb says.For Lamb, finding a mix of her two professions and passions is an ever-present struggle. When Idol rocketed her music to the forefront, she has had to constantly work to balance it out with activities that are equally as fulfilling. It hasn’t been an easy process by any means but one that she sees as absolutely necessary. Just don’t be offended if she turns down a shot of whiskey next time you run into her in the Main St. district.Nick Grever is checking in periodically with Cincinnati-based American Idol contest Jess Lamb about her post-Idol life. Check out previous "Beyond Idol Chatter" posts here. Visit jesslamb.com for music, show dates and more.
by Nick Grever
76 days ago
Cincy's Jess Lamb talks American Idol ‘controversy’ and myriad projects on the horizon
Jess Lamb’s initial performance for the judges on American Idol’s bus tour was undeniably a show stopper. It wrapped up the episode and introduced America to one of Cincinnati’s brightest talents, while also moving her on to the Hollywood round after impressing the judges. Her second televised appearance, a group rendition of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” was considered one of the stronger performances of the Idol Groups round.
That is why it shocked many viewers when she was quietly cut from the show after the performance.
Allegations quickly followed blaming Lamb’s cut on comments that Jennifer Lopez had made regarding the age of some of the contestants, due to Lamb being one of the older performers in the competition (she is only 29). If there’s anything that Lamb would like to set straight it is this: Don’t believe everything you hear. And this is far from the end of the road for her.
“Honestly, I got nothing but really awesome comments from [Lopez]. No bad comments, nothing,” Lamb explains.
Lamb is still unsure as to exactly why she didn’t move on to the next round — American Idol never provided her with a reason — but she does not believe that it was Lopez’s comments or her age that caused the cut. Lamb frequently questioned the editing of the episode and the presentation of Lopez’s comments while discussing the episode and the ensuing fallout.
While the cut was undeniably a blow to Lamb, it is one she is quickly recovering from. In fact, when the episode aired, she wasn’t even able to watch because she was working on one of her myriad new projects at the time.
“I’m busier since Idol than I ever have been. I’m working with Bootsy [Collins], writing with his backup singer, talking with his wife about a project she wants me to work on, preparing for [record label] showcases,” Lamb says.
While Idol’s promised record contract is now out of reach, that hasn’t slowed down Lamb’s work towards her goal of signing with a label and releasing a full-length album. In fact, Idol gave her the exposure that she needed to land on the radar of several big names within the Pop music community. “Grammy-award winner” is descriptor not often connected to people working with local music acts, but it applies in this instance. (Lamb can’t divulge too much information about certain facets of her industry interactions, so vague hints will have to do for now.)
Details are still being discussed and Lamb is still under Idol’s contractual obligations restricting her from signing with any labels before the show is over and a set period of time has passed since its finale. But Lamb is making the best of the time between now and May.
“I’m just trying to do what I’m legally able to do,” Lamb says.
While American Idol continues its search for the next American pop star, Lamb is determined to grow her career using many of the tools that she’s been using for years. She’s constantly attempting to break into new markets, make music with new people and perform for new audiences. The only difference is that she now has a national TV show appearance to help with promotion and publicity. The details of her release from American Idol may be shrouded in a bit of controversy, but ultimately what will endure are her fans’ memories of her performances. It is those memories that will be reignited once American Idol runs its course and Lamb is able to finally take the steps she’s been feverishly working towards putting in place.
And with several months till Idol’s run completes, Lamb has plenty of time to make some very big plans.
Nick Grever’s Beyond Idol Chatter blogs follow the post-American Idol activities, career moves and achievements of Cincinnati vocalist Jess Lamb.
by Nick Grever
88 days ago
Posted In: Local Music
at 10:12 AM | Permalink
Though no longer on the show, local singer Jess Lamb remains wildly busy after her American Idol stint
While Jess Lamb’s American Idol journey may be over, the show is still very much a part of her everyday life. Fans of the show know that the performers often leverage their appearances into work on other projects, such as backup singing or working with national acts in collaborations. It is a process that takes a great deal of time and effort but there is another aspect of being an Idol contestant (current and former) that many fans may not consider — namely, keeping up with the social media explosion that coincides with debuting on the show. It’s a deluge of activity that, initially, can’t be adequately prepared for and it’s one that Lamb experienced firsthand.
“At first, after my audition aired, my sites couldn’t keep up. My stuff was literally shut down,” Lamb explains.
As a local artist, Lamb was used to receiving a friend request on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram fairly often. She relied (and still does rely) on social media for the majority of her publicity regarding upcoming shows and releases. But after her premiere, the number and frequency ballooned in a very short period of time. Furthermore, friend requests from friends of friends or local fans morphed into a nationwide fan base that searched Lamb out on her social media outlets.
“It’s crazy that I can make a post about a song and get 90 likes and in two days see hundreds of streams,” Lamb says. “It’s actually reaching people who are friends of mine because they want to hear the music, not because they’re interested in the scene. They’re literally curious about what I’m doing — they want to hear more.”
But this influx of attention has heightened Lamb’s time on said social media, simply so she can keep up with all of the activity across her accounts, while still trying to maintain a public presence and keeping her fans up to date with her myriad projects. In fact, Lamb has had to cut back on the time she spends at her 9-5 job so she can answer fan requests and emails in between interviews, studio work and live performances.
It’s been a dramatic transition for Lamb who, before Idol, rarely used her social media for any personal or professional purpose. In fact, it was her fiancé who initially showed her the value of using social media to self-promote. Social media activity actually lines up with Lamb’s well established indie sensibilities. She takes pride in having a control over her public output, whether that be an Instagram photo or uploading a new song onto iTunes.
“I still own all the songs, I’m not going to get slapped on the wrist for releasing songs because I’m not releasing for a label —it’s still mine, it’s on me. If I fail, I’m the one filing bankruptcy. If I succeed, I get to hire more people,” Lamb says.
She also leverages her public output to help other artists that she works with as well. For example, many of her fans have seen clips of Lamb’s work with local Electronica act Black Signal or marveled at her unique jewelry and clothing, much of which comes from local boutique Lulu White. Lamb has been repeatedly asked about her collaborations and takes great pains to make sure that her partners get the recognition they deserve. In doing so, she is able to shine a light on not just projects that she is personally a part of, but also projects that she is a personal fan of, showing her fans another aspect of her personality and artistic output.
In many ways, keeping up with her social media has become another job for Lamb, requiring large amounts of time and thought to be put into its upkeep. But it’s a job she enjoys doing and one that she has no intention of passing off to anyone else.
“I would prefer to spend my time doing the social media stuff, I really do enjoy it. It helps me to come out of my shell when I’m sitting behind the computer,” Lamb says.
For her fans this is great news, because they can be assured that anything they see coming from Lamb online is actually coming from her and not a hired gun. It’s a genuine correspondence, which in today’s pop music world is a rarity.
by Jac Kern
100 days ago
at 12:45 PM | Permalink
Weekly 'American Idol' recap featuring Cincinnati's Jess Lamb
Part two of
Hollywood Week aired Wednesday and Thursday, picking up right where we left off
— with group performances, specifically Alexis D. and her case of the vapors.
She got her shit together enough to perform with her group and ended up
advancing with Jax. The others, including Sal, were sent home. I guess American Idol my call to investigate his
real age. Sorry, Sal!
performed a slowed-down version of O.G. A.I.
Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone."
We saw Hollywood
Anderson spittin’ game on a bunch of ladies, including Jess Lamb. He made it
through to the next round.
There was a quick
look at Alexis Gomez and her group — they all advanced.
Then we finally
got to see a performance by Jess — the first time since her amazing audition in
Kansas City. Her group put a funky twist on the earworm “All About That Bass”
and got even more love from Harry Connick Jr.
They killed it! It
was honestly one of the most cohesive and entertaining performances of the
round. But only Jess and Lovey made it through; the rest of the group was sent
My dreams were
crushed when Garrett fell flat on his song and was eliminated.
The night ended
with a badass all-girl cover of Queen;s “Somebody to Love,” where we learned it’s OK to forget the words
to a song if you can incorporate a joke about it within said song.
With all the
groups finished, solo performances began on Thursday’s episode. The judges
began to cut approximately 80 contestants down to the 48 that will have to
perform in front of a live audience at the House of Blues in next week’s
episodes — that’s how the final top 24 will be determined. No feedback was
given immediately following each performance; instead,
Loren set the bar
high with her rendition of “Skyfall.” I know it’s not Jess, but she game me
goosebumps, so you need to watch it.
Daniel is also crazy good. His singing voice is about 4 years ahead of his
speaking voice, so that works for him.
Big Ron made a big
fool of himself talking shit on the music director before, during and after his
performance. Obviously, he was sent home. Loren and Baby Daniel advanced, along
with Shi (the girl with "the look"), Quentin (the guy with "the look"), Maddie (another supposed “teen” that looks like a very mature soap
opera actress), Trevor (the “geek” of the group), Jax (who got way too close to her parents
while singing “Let It Be”) and Nick (the old man of the group).
Alexis Gomez couldn’t
decide if she wanted to channel “Dirty” Xtina with white girl cornrows or young
Taylor Swift with crunchy curls, so she rocked them both. She made it, so we’ve
officially got some local talent in the top 48!
Jess Lamb is not one of them.
They didn’t show
her final solo performance but did dedicate a few clips to her as they
announced some of the more prominent folks leaving the competition.
We'll miss you,
Jess! Actually, we don’t have to miss her because we will be checking out her local performances. Jess is already working on new music — with fellow Idol contestant Hollywood Anderson and
the one and only Bootsy Collins!
This wraps up our
coverage of Jess American Idol, but we can all expect more on her in the months to
by Jac Kern
107 days ago
Posted In: Music
at 12:29 PM | Permalink
Weekly 'American Idol' recap featuring Cincinnati's Jess Lamb
With the news of
local musician Jess Lamb competing on the 14th season of American Idol, I’ve been watching and waiting for the initial
audition episodes to end so we can really get into the competition and see more
Jess. This week was the first half of Hollywood rounds, where some 200
contestants that received golden tickets during the aforementioned auditions
before the judges — Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. —
converged under one roof. The musicians and singers will perform solo and as
groups for the judges, who will gradually dwindle the crowd down to the top 24
locals (Spoiler Alert), we got about 30 seconds of Jess Lamb air time between
this week’s two episodes. But on the upside, she’s still in the game!
episode, the judges surprised a room full of contestants, telling them a
select few would be called onstage to perform right then. For viewers at home,
we’ve seen these folks before — they’re the ones we saw audition and receive
golden tickets (but keep in mind there were many
more than what we saw), the judges’ “most memorable auditions.” But they
don’t know that. For those in the crowd, it seems like random contestants were
pulled up to perform in front of their competition with no immediate feedback
from the panel of mega-stars. And the judges were continuously bewildered as to
why these kids were coming up scared shitless.
First up was Jax, who looks like a PG-13 Ke$ha that got puked on by Forever 21, but gave a really
cool cover of “Toxic” by Britney Spears.
Walking New York
stereotype Sal was also called. According to the show he’s 19, but this man is definitely
at least 45 judging by his voice, appearance and penchant for standards (his
name is Sal for crying out loud).
Afro’ed Adam — who
gave a boisterous performance of “Born to be Wild” in his audition — surprised
everyone with a softer side that the judges didn’t seem to like.
through what seemed like a million 15-year-olds that made me feel like a stale
And it was nice to
see Garret, the blind cowboy with a voice of a thousand Country angels. He so
needs to be in the top 24.
After making their
way through the list, the judges called everyone who performed that day to the
stage — around 38 hopefuls. Again, clearly many
more performed than what we had seen in the episode — including our homegirl,
Jess Lamb! Despite some shaky performances, they were all immediately advanced
to the next round. We didn’t get more of than a glance at her, but Jess is safe
this week! Everyone else in the audience — about 175 kids who were mostly
convinced at this point that they were garbage people — were also off the
chopping block for the moment, and would be performing later.
contestants returned, they lined up onstage 10 at a time to perform for the
judges. One by one, they gave a little spiel and gave a quick performance.
After each group of 10 performed, eliminations were immediate. The group of 175
was cut in half. Cue the crying footage!
At one point
toward the end of Wednesday’s episode, we saw JLo have a DIVA MOMENT (OK, not
really) and talking about how cold she was in the theater. Up pops
“19-year-old” Sal again, offering a coat he’s got back at his hotel room. “I
have a wonderful 2011 Merlot. We could split it,” he said. Can we please
investigate this guy, Idol? If
28-year-old Jess is at the end of the age spectrum, middle-aged men should be
prohibited. And if he is 19, the kid's got hooch in his room!
unfolded last night, and still no real airtime for Jess. It opened with the
remaining contestants (the non-memorable auditions — wah, waahh). Alexis Gomez,
a 22-year-old Dayton, Ohio resident, was shown performing — she advanced to the
In an off-stage
scene, it looks like there’s a budding romance between Jax and Dreadlock Pirate
a.k.a. Qassim (why why why is this happening).
contestants after cuts are brought onstage and asked to split themselves into
groups of four. With around 100 people, this was udder madness and horrible
planning that resulted in one person — another Alexis (Poor Alexis D.G.) — left
with NO ONE. So sad! I feel for you, Alexis D.G.! But don’t worry, Sal came to
the rescue and invited her to join his group to make a fivesome.
The groups of four
were given a song to perform a cappella-style and had one night to perfect it.
Some of the groups eventually went to their hotel rooms but many stayed up all
night preparing — something apparently none of these people had done before. They
were so loopy!
The next morning,
the foursomes began to take the stage. At this point, I have a lot of
questions: Are we cutting down to the final 24? Will these people go through
another round of cuts before the live shows begin? Does anyone else want a
Sal’s group was
about to go on when Alexis D.G. had some kind of panic attack or fainting spell
— seriously, none of these people have ever gone without sleep before — and got
real dramatic about it. She pulled herself together to go on with the group but
immediately got wobbly and needed to be carried off stage. Another DIVA MOMENT!
And that’s where the episode ends. Hope you’re OK, Alexis! But we’ll have to
wait to find out until next time [Ryan Seacrest voice] on…American Idol.
Wednesday’s episode here; Thursday’s here.
by Nick Grever
111 days ago
With her 'American Idol' journey, noted Cincinnati musician Jess Lamb is presented with numerous opportunities and challenges
For many Cincinnati natives, seeing Jess Lamb perform her audition in Kansas City for the American Idol judges was the first time they had ever heard her powerful and emotive voice or seen her honest, determined spirit. But for anyone who has their ears to the ground in Cincinnati’s local music scene (or has drunkenly wandered into Japps on a Tuesday night) knew that Lamb was more than ready for the limelight. Lamb has been performing all across town for years and has consistently turned heads with her stable of classics and originals, paired with her pronounced and technical work on the keys. (In 2013, Lamb was nominated for an R&B/Funk/Soul Cincinnati Entertainment Award and performed at that year’s ceremony, a mini-clip of which was used in her initial biographical segment on Idol.)
But a rise in local and national exposure brings a great deal of opportunities and challenges tied together. And it is those opportunities and challenges that my series of posts following Lamb’s experience will reflect upon. Lamb is an indie artist to the core; she writes and records with many different projects beyond her solo work. She plays all around town in the hopes of steadily increasing her visibility. But how does an artist used to local coverage deal with the sudden influx in national attention? What effect will American Idol have on local attendance or the reception at her shows? Will there be any long term changes or will this ultimately be a flash-in-the-pan experience for Lamb? These are the types of questions that will be explored as the show carries on.Of course, to answer where Lamb will be going, it helps to know how she even became a part of American Idol. It all happened by chance.“I went to Columbus for what they call the ‘Bus Tour.’ Basically you go down there and stand in front of executive producers of the show. From there, they just call you and tell you where to go next. You’re just playing the waiting game after that,” Lamb says.Lamb and her friend’s spontaneous trip to Columbus led to the next stage of the journey — performing for Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. (one of Lamb’s musical idols). There was a month in between both auditions, leaving plenty of time to think and speculate. After the audition in Kansas City and the announcement of her participation on the show, Lamb has been speaking to the media while still finding time for her day job and performing at night.With “Hollywood Week,” featuring the singers who made it past the initial auditions, approaching, Lamb’s Amercan Idol adventure is just about to truly take off. Here at home, she’s already seen a change in her local reception.“I’ve felt a lot of support from the people that I look up to. Frankly, I’m shocked at the support. I’m shocked that a lot of people see where I’m going with this,” Lamb says.After her audition aired, Lamb played a show in West Chester, where she was greeted by an entirely different type of crowd than the Main Street district mainstays. Instead of young people buying her shots, she was met by a group of older women who brought her flowers.The crowds aren’t just growing at her shows either; her online presence has grown as well. American Idol fans have flocked to Lamb’s Facebook, Instagram, email box and Reverbnation page. So many, in fact, that Lamb is having a hard time keeping up with all the attention.“There’s been so much [growth] on social media, so many great emails. I’m trying to respond to every email and I have to take hours out of every day to do it and it’s amazing, I love it,” Lamb says.In many ways, that excitement is indicative of Lamb and her Idol journey thus far. It’s been a whirlwind of activity that is guaranteed to grow as the show progresses. But she has taken it all in stride and is taking every opportunity the show has provided her. We’ll just have to tune in to see what other opportunities arise in the coming weeks.
The Hollywood Week episodes of American Idol air locally this Wednesday and Thursday on Fox 19.