Jana Anderson is a gifted songstress discovered by musical genius Prince. She went on to perform with legends like Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, and Don Henley. Now she embarks on a blossoming solo career as a country-pop crossover artist. Jana kindly joined Artist Spotlight to discuss her music and her support of worthy causes like Emergency Food Shelf, Make A Wish Foundation, St. Jude's Hospital, The Humane Society, and Habitat for Humanity.
You were discovered by Prince. Can you describe your experience working with him?
Working with Prince was a dream come true because he's not just one thing as an artist, he's everything as an artist. I remember getting to Paisley Park on time or early and as Prince and I would wait for the others, Prince would leave the control room and go into where we record and go from instrument to instrument playing this impromptu, private concert. I couldn't believe it. What an honor and one of my favorite all time memories. I had a great job with a great band so he would wait until that gig was over so my sessions with Prince were often times from 1:30a.m. until the sun came up. I sang lead on a song Prince released called "M.P.L.S." There was a fantastic video made in cartoon characters of my likeness that was never released for political reasons. M.P.L.S. is on a CD titled, "1-800-NEW-FUNK." I don't have credit on the insert as the lead singer, just that the band is called "Minneapolis." I'm the first and last song on that CD with many famous artists including George Clinton. I also sang lead demos nobody's ever heard. He even wrote a song I sang called "Jana Jade's Army." I also sang and acted on a song with Morris Day and Jerome Benton and shared the microphone with them for the acting part. It was hilarious. Prince always seemed entertained by them. I'm also on the "Graffiti Bridge" soundtrack on a song called "Shake." There are many stories, but the actual experience of working at Paisley Park with Prince on and off for 5 years was inspiring, exciting, and surprising. He was not a control freak. He encouraged me to be me and to come up with my own soul and parts unless I asked for direction. He was the fasted engineer I've ever worked for. He's not only a musical genius, he's an expert on the actual machines that record the music too. Nobody talks about that because I suppose you have to work with him in the studio to know that. I felt the pressure to be able to sing immediately back to him what he sang to me and it made me quick in the studio just by the fact that I didn't want to waste his time or disappoint him since he was lightning fast. Prince always had the studios decorated in beautiful scarves and vibey lights. He always smelled good, was dressed beautifully with matching shoes to his clothes, and was a perfect gentleman and complimentary and always made me feel good. He did tell me not to eat candy. He was right but I haven't listened. :) I loved working for and with Prince!
Tell us more about touring with the iconic Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks.
Touring with Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks has been fun for the past 7 years. I showed up in the middle of the tour so I had to learn the show on my own in one week with no rehearsals and play an arena with one run through of the show. It was a lot of pressure. However, I quickly learned that all the stars were really nice, approachable, and kind. I felt at home in a short amount of time. I'm a fan of their music and their individual talents so it's been an honor to watch their shows up close all these years. I loved having personal conversations with them telling me about their journey, their past, their stories, and how they became Fleetwood Mac and how Stevie started her solo career. They don't treat rehearsals with a militant style. But we work hard and it still comes together beautifully while being fun and laid back. They have some rituals before we enter the stage. I usually smile or give Stevie a loving touch or something positive. With Mick, he has this gentleman's ritual with the backup singers. And with John and Lindsey, we rub elbows for our ritual. There are so many great memories because I've worked with them so much. I'm really happy to have DVD's of the shows with Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks. Stars don't always record them for sale to the public. But, I was lucky enough to come at a time when they did. The harmonies, the fire, the excitement of the lights and crowds, the great music and hit songs, the stars on stage, the stars in the audience, the die hard fans, the whirlwind, the time zones, lack of sleep, the laughter, the tears, it's all been a wonderful, growing, learning experience I will always cherish.
You have toured with so many legends. Do you have a favorite tour?
No. I don't have a favorite tour. I've been blessed with working with the best of the best. The music has all been great. The arenas, catering, hotels, transportation has all been great. My favorite experiences besides the music are definitely the places I've been and that can make it a favorite tour. I love to travel and have really embraced the cities I've been.
Tell us more about your solo work. What is the greatest inspiration for your songs?
My solo work has had many facets. My "Never Say Never" CD was produced by Don Cromwell and written entirely by him with different co-writers on every song. I only wrote one song on the CD about the night before my husband moved out. I actually came on board without being the main songwriter because I was actually living the songs I was recording, even though Don didn't know that yet. Although I'm a songwriter, I had to record these songs because of the pain I was in for the heartbreaking songs, and I had plenty to draw on with life experiences for the happy songs. They spoke to me and I knew my performances would be 100% sincere and full of emotion to bring them to life. I have many songs I've written but only submitted one to Sheena Easton titled "Moon" and she recorded it for one of her CD's when I was touring with her about 10 years ago. I plan on releasing songs I've written in the future. The greatest inspiration for my songs is real life and the high highs and low lows of life and love.
Do you have a favorite song you have recorded or a song that is particularly dear to your heart?
Yes. My favorite song on my "Never Say Never" CD that touches my heart is "Memory of Your Kiss." I have many songs on that CD I absolutely love, but that one is dear to my heart. A favorite song I've written and recorded is titled "Moon" and it belongs in a Disney movie. That's one of my goals.
What is your all-time favorite song (by another artist)?
I have different favorite songs from year to year. Some of them last the test of time, sometimes I just love them in the moment. Right now I'd say my favorite song by another artist is "Rascal Flatts" song titled "Here." It's so brilliant!
Is there any artist you dream of performing with someday?
That is a RESOUNDING 'YES!' I would give nearly anything to perform with or even open for Rascal Flatts.
What message would you like your music to convey to the listener?
I want my music to bring people from whatever they're feeling to feeling inspired, emotional, passionate, to a fun place to dance or sing along, or to a thought provoking place. We love music because it makes us 'feel' if it's good music and performed with sincerity. I'm fun, funny, and goofy, but I'm all the way sincere in the delivery of my music.
Name five adjectives that describe you as a person.
Oh, I think I just did. :) Loving, compassionate, funny, adventurous, Christian.
Name five adjectives that describe your music.
Passionate, fun, current, rock, country.
Name five performers who have influenced you most as an artist.
Rascal Flatts, Aretha Franklin, Sheena Easton, Oprah (freedom to be myself as a person and as a singer through her lessons in life), Carrie Underwood
Can you tell us more about the charities and causes you support?
I give money to different Christian churches, the Humane Society, Emergency Food Shelf, Habit for Humanity, Make A Wish Foundation, and St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
Which performance do you consider the highlight of your career, thus far?
It's still coming in the future. I'm grateful for many, many performances and have loved doing them, but completely unsatisfied and working toward that goal where I'm in front of a big crowd that wants to hear my original songs. :)
What projects will you be working on this year? Any plans to tour?
I have no plans to tour. I am starting my own band to perform my original songs. I'm also writing songs with different writers.
Thanks to Jana for sharing her time and talent. Check out Jana's country-crossover album Never Say Never, available on iTunes and CDBaby, and her jazz album At Last.
Visit http://janaanderson.com/and http://myspace.com/janaandersonmusic
For more information about Make A Wish Foundation, please visit http://wish.org/
For more information about St. Jude's Children's Hospital, please visit http://stjude.org/
For more information about Habitat for Humanity, please visit http://habitat.org/
For more information about The Humane Society, please visit http://humanesociety.org/
For more information about Emergency Food Shelf, please visit