By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Having opened for the likes of Shawn Mendes, Lauv, Chromeo and Snarky Puppy, Canadian R&B/pop singer-songwriter JENNA Nation is certainly on the brink of worldwide music superstardom as we hit 2022.
No stranger to the stage, Nation has showcased her charismatic presence at many venues and music festivals like Live Nation HQ in Beverly Hills, Calif., RBC Bluesfest, MIDEM, New Skool Rules and the Toronto, Ottawa and Beaches International Jazz Festivals.
Perhaps best known for her 2019 single “Givin’ U Up,” which landed on many international playlists and was a Top 10 download nationally alongside BTS in its first week, Nation’s songs are crafted to inspire and empower females to persevere through strength and independence.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Nation about what she has been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Canada to someone who has never been there before?
JENNA Nation – Canada is a huge country and really different, depending on where you visit in Canada. I love that about my country and how culturally diverse we are. You can get everything from ocean and beaches, to mountains, prairies, major cities, forest and lakes to glaciers. We have all of the seasons – hot summers, snow, rain and falling leaves. I currently live in Toronto and it’s kind of like Canada’s New York City. We have really great food, the people are friendly, lots of things to do, the music scene is awesome and we are right on Lake Ontario – one of the great lakes. We also get a lot of awesome concerts and festivals happening, especially in the summer.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
JENNA Nation – I think I’ve always been drawn to R&B music. I love a lot of different styles, but there’s just something that I feel deep in my soul and body when I hear and sing R&B. The music is so smooth and soulful and it pulls from jazz and soul music, which I also love. It can be so simple, but so complex at the same time and often, the lyrics are so vulnerable and so heartfelt and that really moves me.
Music Bugle – How did you decide your stage name?
JENNA Nation – My first name is really Jenna. I was a jazz singer for a long time before switching over to more R&B. I was trying to separate myself from the jazz music that I had done before, so I was just going by JENNA for a little while. There are a lot of Jennas out there, so I decided to create the hashtag #jennanation to separate myself and was using that for my socials and for my fans to connect with me. People who had only met me online I guess assumed that it was my name, so when they wrote to me, they would address me as “Miss Nation.” I really liked the sound of that, so I decided to adopt the name.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for your single “Givin’ U Up”?
JENNA Nation – “Givin’ U Up” was released a few years ago now and the intention behind it was to be a female empowerment anthem, not only about standing up for what you believe, but also not putting up with less than what you deserve. The video takes place in a gym setting – which is my other passion – and I wanted it to show women supporting one another and for it to be all about body positivity and being comfortable in your own skin. At the end of the day, the song can relate to anyone to remind people of their worth and what they deserve, but I was really directing the song to young women in particular.
Music Bugle – What do you enjoy the most about being a singer-songwriter?
JENNA Nation – I really love the performing part of being a singer-songwriter. Of course, I love to create and write my own music, but it feels even better when I can be on stage, share my story with people through music and be able to connect with people and connect people together in a way that nothing other than music can do.
Music Bugle – What has been your proudest accomplishment?
JENNA Nation – I think one of my proudest moments was performing on the main stage at Blues Fest in Ottawa opening for Shawn Mendes. As a little girl, I had attended that festival every summer and watched my favorite artists up on that stage and I told myself that one day, I was going to be there. To get a call to be asked to perform on that stage and on top of that, opening for one of the biggest artists in the world right now was a dream come true. The day of the performance was such a high and huge moment in my career and I will forever remember that experience.
Music Bugle – What was your favorite moment while onstage?
JENNA Nation – I think some of my favorite moments on stage have been in the most intimate venues where I’m not really separated much from the audience. You have too many people crowded into a venue and it’s hot and maybe not the best lighting or sound or the most lavish of venues, but you can hear a pin drop in the room, because everyone is there to hear you. I love those times, because you can really feed off the audience and improvise and have the best time, because there are no expectations and you are free to just do you as an artist.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
JENNA Nation – I think social media really helps musicians. It has especially been helpful during these times, when we haven’t been able to fully perform live. I know it has allowed me to connect with my fans in new ways by doing virtual shows, putting out more content and collaborating with other artists from all over the world. It can also help you to reach a wider audience, but at the same time, there are a lot of musicians out there, so that can be both great and at times, make for some competition.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
JENNA Nation – I listen to a lot of different things and it also depends on what I am in the mood for. I often throw on some classic jazz music in the background when I’m at home and I will always listen to 90’s R&B like it came out yesterday. When I am working out, I like to listen to hip hop and reggaeton. Some artists that I really dig right now include H.E.R., Ella Mai, Summer Walker, Giveon and Snoh Aalegra.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
JENNA Nation – Whenever I need a break, the gym always helps me to relieve some stress. It’s sort of a form of meditation for me. I also really love to go to the beach! I am a big fan of sun, sand and water!