Posted On 30 Jun 2016
Jean Louisa Kelly cannot simply be defined by her impressive resume. Her extraordinary career has captivated audiences throughout the years and her work continues to prove her place as a remarkable figure in Hollywood.
When she was 17, she got a huge break playing Tia, the bratty teenage niece opposite John Candy in “Uncle Buck” — a film directed by the legendary John Hughes. After shooting, she took time off to earn a BA in English at Columbia College in New York City.
Jean Louisa soon found her way to the West Coast to star in the NBC dramedy “Cold Feet.” The show was short-lived, but she quickly made a deal with CBS resulting in an iconic six years of playing the smart and sassy Kim Warner in the long running sitcom “Yes, Dear.”
Taking her musical talents to the next level, Jean released her first EP, “Willing,” in 2015 – a collection of original songs about growth, transformation and intimacy.
Since this last EP, Jean has kept busy by returning to her acting roots. She worked on an independent film called “Last Days of Summer,” starring William Fichtner in which she played his wife, and another independent called “Out of the Wild,” starring John Diehl. More recently, she had a role in the film, “The Bachelors,” starring J.K. Simmons, as well as a guest spot on “Scream Queens.”
Now, Jean’s music is taking the front seat again. She just released her sophomore EP titled “Relax, Nothing is Under Control” – a body of music that Jean describes as being “much more eclectic” than “Willing.” She says, “There is not one song that is similar to the next in this group, they are truly all different genres and styles.”
The inspiration for the EP came to Jean in a number of ways – from an overflow of feelings looking for an outlet, to ideas that came to her while meditating – she has created a body of music that is both unique and vocally charming.
While each song is extremely personal to Jean, “The House Next Door to Me,” is particularly special, as it is a song that came to her from a dream. She describes the process of writing her music as something that takes a lot of courage, but that sharing her craft with the world, while scary at times, is beyond rewarding. Through it all, Jean has stuck by music even when she has felt overwhelmed by motherhood – a challenge that has given her a creative purpose and genuine feeling of pride.
Learn more about Jean in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! How’s 2016 treating you so far? How’s your summer been going?
Thanks for asking! 2016 has been wonderful so far… We adopted two rescue dogs last year and they have been providing my family with lots of laughs and cuddles, though they are destroying my rugs. Summer will officially start when my kids are out of school and then it will be camps, traveling, and I hope the beach. 🙂
What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
I did a couple of independent films I really enjoyed: “The Last Days of Summer,” opposite William Fichtner and “Out of the Wild,” opposite John Diehl. I wrote a song for that movie called “Valley of Fire” while I was on location that has been released across digital platforms (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/valley-of-fire-single/id1079441847.) The biggest event for me musically was the release of “Willing,” my last EP https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/willing-ep/id980378806.)
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
I always sang… my mother was a piano teacher and she used to accompany me on the piano. It was just something we did. I started out doing school plays, community theatre, and lots of lessons – voice, ballet, tap dancing. I did my first professional show, “Annie,” when I was 11.
What do you think it was that ultimately got you to begin the music career and move away from acting?Do you think it’s always been a big passion of yours?
I actually haven’t moved away from acting, I’ve just added composing to the mix. My career has changed over the past decade because I had kids and have chosen to prioritize being home with them. That has limited the kinds of roles I’ve taken, but I am definitely still acting and will probably do more as they get older. Having kids sort of kick-started composing for me, because my first project was “Color of Your Heart,” an album that was inspired by my kids (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/color-of-your-heart/id662140307.) It is in the vein of “Free to Be, You and Me,” the Marlo Thomas album from the 70’s.
How do you think you’ve grown as a musician through the years?
I think I’m more willing to be vulnerable. When I was younger, I thought I needed to sound a certain way — probably because I wanted to be the perfect Broadway singer. Now I see that what’s more important, crucial really, is being true to my own voice. There is no perfect.
Where do you get the inspiration for your music? How do you go about writing a song?
I’m not really sure where inspiration comes from, but I know that I get ideas and hear melodies when I am clear and not running around doing a million things. Sometimes it happens during or right after meditation. Sometimes it comes from a dream. I usually just record whatever is in my head into my phone and then go back later and get more specific with the chords and lyrics.
What are some of your favorite songs on your recent EP, “Relax, Nothing Is Under Control”?
I love them all! I love the horns on “Time, Time, Time,” and the fiddle on “Let’s Be Bad Together.” I love the groove of “House Next Door to Me.” I am so grateful to my wonderful musicians and amazing engineer Michael Eisenstein (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/relax-nothing-is-under-control/id1110166515.)
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you love to work with one day?
I love Billy Joel and Sheryl Crow… I would love to work with Cyndi Lauper!
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message for your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
I hope listeners hear a truth that resonates with them… that is what I listen for. It’s a combination of the sound and the message that I feel deep inside. If someone can receive that from what I’ve put out there, I’m happy.