“In America, singing and music-making are so often reserved for experts. In Europe, so many people make music purely for the fun of it. Just yesterday, I saw a bunch of people playing brass together in a boat as they sailed down the canal. I would like to start a movement where more people learn an instrument, sing with others and enjoy creating music, simply for joy. Not everyone has to be a professional to pick up a guitar or join a choir. Europe has far more amateur music groups and far less violence … I think the whole world would be a better place if more people were making music together.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jaclyn Bradley Palmer, singer/songwriter and filmmaker who was the only American featured on The Voice of Holland this season. Her musical film, Love the Bodies We’re In recently premiered at The Chinese Theatres in Hollywood. She is currently working on a new album, to be released this winter.
Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?
I was born with music inside of me. Along with my heart, my bones, my lungs, my spleen… there was music. I can remember watching MTV in the living room, mesmerized by Michael and Whitney and Cyndi and Madonna, thinking now, that’s what I want to do. When Thriller debuted, I was 4 years old. I remember my cousins and neighbors coming over to our house and waiting for it to premiere. My dad taped it on his beta recorder so I could watch it, again and again and again. Music and film filled my home and my childhood and for that I am grateful. I began performing in musicals and received a scholarship to study opera at Indiana University. After college, I lived in both New York City and Los Angeles where I began writing, recording and licensing music for TV and film. When I moved to Europe, I expanded to filmmaking, combining my two great loves: music and film — bringing full circle the dreams which began in childhood, in my living room.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
When I first moved to L.A. my job was as a restaurant hostess at The Grove. My second job was personal assistant to infamous child star turned bad boy, Danny Bonaduce. I could fill this interview entirely with interesting stories about that job. On my first day of work, I took a message from a deep-voiced man named Lou. Caught up in learning to run my new boss’s life, I lost the number. Danny came home from his radio job and asked me specifically, “Did Lou Ferrigno call me?” Oh my god, I had lost The Incredible Hulk’s phone number. I eventually found the number in the trash can and never lost another one again in the 2 years I worked for him and his family. It was a crazy ride. I pretty much became the fifth Bonaduce for awhile, filming both seasons of Vh1’s “Breaking Bonaduce,” attending award shows, singing back-up for Gretchen Bonaduce’s band, nannying for their two awesome kids, and traveling everywhere with the family. I was even able to perform my music live with Gretchen on their Vh1 show… which opened the door to licensing my original music to many other television shows and films.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am currently recording a holiday album. It is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I am collaborating with amazing musicians and friends. We are having a great time laying down Christmas tracks mid-summer!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I literally ran into Michael Jackson when I was 19 years old and it was totally unexpected. I was at the Beverly Hills Hotel with friends and a priest when the priest snuck us back through a fence toward the private Bungelows when the housekeeper mistakenly left the gate open. The friends I was with were Italian and they were talking and laughing loudly when we turned a corner and walked right into Michael Jackson. Michael stopped us and asked me, “What language are they speaking?” I almost died on the spot. Certainly, I forgot how to talk as Michael tried to engage me in a conversation. Eventually, I was able to remember a few words. It is a moment I will never forget.
I’ve sung back-up for Terri Nunn of Berlin, had Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard accompany me on guitar at a birthday party, and attended Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson’s wedding… but nothing has ever topped blindly running into Michael Jackson and having him interested in my story.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
I’m inspired by the people who work hard and never give up in the face of defeat. My grandfather was a mechanic who lost his arm in a work accident at 32 years old, but he continued to work and provide for his family and no one would have ever considered him disabled. I grew up thinking having one arm might just be a normal thing for some people.
So many others in the Greatest Generation inspire me, too. I directed a documentary about the men on board the USS Indianapolis. During World War II, the ship went down and 316 men survived in shark infested waters for 5 days and 4 nights without rescue. To me, they are real heroes and proof of human resilience in the face of struggle.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
After the Bonaduce years, I moved home to Cleveland for awhile and became a music therapist. I worked with cancer patients at University Hospitals, using music to reduce pain, decrease anxiety, facilitate expression and bring hope to others in times of darkness. I also studied the effect of live music with women experiencing breast cancer surgery. I would like to think that I brought goodness to my patients, but the gifts the patients gave me are immeasurable. It is the greatest work I have ever known.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
In America, singing and music-making are so often reserved for experts. In Europe, so many people make music purely for the fun of it. Just yesterday, I saw a bunch of people playing brass together in a boat as they sailed down the canal. I would like to start a movement where more people learn an instrument, sing with others and enjoy creating music, simply for joy. Not everyone has to be a professional to pick up a guitar or join a choir. Europe has far more amateur music groups and far less violence … I think the whole world would be a better place if more people were making music together.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Listen to your inner voice. Walk in nature. Get quiet. Meditate. Envision what you want. There are answers within… and when you go through something tough or feel lost or stuck, write about it, channel it into art. Music often happens when nothing else can.
Leave your comfort zone. Embrace new experiences. Travel, try new things, live somewhere else, take risks. The more experiences in your palette, and the more you extend yourself and stretch, the more you’ll grow as a human. Songs come from the soul… so work on growing that and the music will follow.
Love Fully. Your heart will break. Love fully anyway. Love with every ounce of your being. Sometimes it will work out and sometimes it won’t… but it all leads you to where you are meant to be and you’ll be better for sharing your heart fully.
Make friends and be one. Befriend other artists. Collaborate. Take from others and give of yourself, too. Meet everyone, be kind and find your tribe. You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, you can’t. When I moved to New York and LA, and even Europe, I quickly created a community of musician friends- they have produced my records, played with me on performances, and booked me on their shows. Make allies.
Don’t be afraid of your own greatness. Most people don’t fear failure, they fear success. Happiness and fulfilment are your birthright. Surrender to that.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this. 🙂
Oh, I’d like to have a private breakfast with Brad Pitt. Breakfast in bed. My husband says it’s fine.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can check out Jaclyn’s latest single, “Love the Bodies We’re In” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eVvMi1bqOQ
and keep up with her on Facebook, (https://www.facebook.com/jaclynbradleypalmer)
Originally published at medium.com