Singer/songwriter Jessie Baylin has a silky, melodic tone, reminiscent of Natasha Bedingfield and melting vanilla ice cream. Her voice is filled with a quiet confidence, yet alluring vulnerability.
Although her contemporaries rely on production techniques, 21-year-old Baylin takes an honest approach and commits to the sound of her natural voice. She performs frequently at clubs and events in Southern California and, judging by the number of glowing reviews from fans, is developing quite the following.
Baylin ? who looks like a flower child with her retro clothing, long blonde locks and bright rosy cheeks ? is in serious talks with a record label and has been approached by other labels in the past. Regardless of where she signs, Baylin says she refuses to change.
?I know what I want,? she says. ?I know the kinds of people I want to be working with, and the kind of record that I?m going to make. It?s just finding the right fit and trusting my instincts.?
A native of New Jersey, Baylin had the same clich? dream as many young girls? she wanted to be a singer when she grew up. The difference for Baylin, however, was her willingness to leave her family and move across the country to pursue her love of music.
?My parents have always been very supportive of my dreams,? says Baylin. ?Even in taking big risks, like moving to Los Angeles, they knew that if my heart cried out, they would have to let me go.?
It would appear as if Baylin?s gamble has paid off. She loves performing on stage and says she wouldn?t trade it for anything.
?It is the most incredible feeling looking out on all these beautiful, glowing faces that are totally with you for every moment,? she says. ?I want to make them see me, and understand what I am singing about. It?s overwhelming and I am humbled by it.?
It doesn?t take long to realize Baylin is not your average young celebrity hopeful.
She?s friendly, approachable and without a hint of pretension or grandiosity? despite being on her way to a successful music career, going to all the right parties, meeting all the right people and being best-friends with current silver screen it-girl Scarlett Johansson.
?Scarlett and I met at high school in New York City,? she explains. ?We connected right away. She and I have total love and support for one another. I am so very proud of her and what she’s doing. And she believes in me as much as I believe in me. I don’t think you can ask for more than that in a friend.?
Of course, being a pop culture junkie, I?d be remised if I didn?t try and get some dirt on Johansson when I got the chance.
?We definitely cause trouble when we are together,? says Baylin. ?We hosted a benefit in New York and it was this very posh, fabulous sort of evening at the supper club and we were young and foolish.?
A loyal friend to her music and to Johansson, Baylin won?t impeach either
?Scarlett fell down a giant staircase. That?s all I?m saying,? she chuckles. ?I picked her up and we ran into the bathroom and laughed ourselves to tears. (There is) never a dull moment when we are together.?
Although Baylin appreciates Johansson, she wants to be known for her music and not for her friendships. Any success she does have will be largely in part due to her many musical influences, including classic rockers like Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks.
?Stevie Nicks has always been my favourite (artist),? she says. ?There was something incredibly familiar about her voice and poetry. I’d listen to her and sail away. Her songs were great company for a child who liked to dream.?
The yang to rock?s ying, Baylin is also heavily influenced by jazz icons like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday.
?You don’t listen to Ella Fitzgerald when someone just ripped your heart out,? she says. ?You listen to Billie Holiday, and she will wrap her arms around you and make you feel so understood. And Nina Simone is the sound of truth. You sit and you listen, and you see everything she’s talking about. I love those women. They helped me grow up.?
Being an up-and-coming artist can only last for so long. Eventually Baylin?s going to have to make that next step into stardom or fall away into obscurity? but as she explains, the latter isn?t really an option for her.
?I am no fortune teller,? she says about her future. ?But I can’t do anything but write songs and sing. My heart would break. It’s my life-long love affair.?
Not all love affairs have a happy ending, but it seems that this one has all the right ingredients for long-term success.
For more information and audio, visit Jessie online at: jessiebaylin.com