Jessica Carter AltmanMax Botticelli
Jessica Carter Altman is still pinching herself that she was brave enough to take a leap of faith and follow her dreams — which served as inspiration for her latest single, “Naïve”.
“I used to ask my dad what my worst quality was, and he used to tell me that I was a little naive, but that it was also one of my best qualities,” the singer, 33, revealed in an exclusive interview with Us Weekly. “So I wanted to write a song about being a little naive and how it’s actually a really beautiful thing because it allows you to be a dreamer and really go after what you want.”
Altman was on the brink of becoming an attorney before she switched gears to pursue music — but she realized a career in law wasn’t challenging her the way she hoped. “I’m really grateful for those experiences,” she shares. “But there was a difference between finding something stimulating, intellectually interesting, and enjoying it versus something that you are passionate about.”
According to the musician, she’s never looked back. “Every day I just feel incredibly grateful that I get to do this for a living, and I really love every moment,” Altman continues. “It’s not just being on stage and the things that people see externally, but it’s writing the songs, it’s recording, it is practicing voice lessons. It’s really just everything from top to bottom.”
Courtesy of Jessica Carter Altman/Instagram
Keep scrolling to learn more about the rising singer:
On What Inspired Her to Get Into Making Music
I have really loved music and performing since as long as I can remember. During my first chorus in the first grade and first band in the seventh grade, I was just constantly performing and singing. But growing up in D.C. besides my mom, there really are not a lot of entertainers that I grew up around. And so wanting to be a musician just felt like the most ridiculous thing. Separately, I was really raised to value education, so there was really never a moment I didn’t think that I wasn’t going to go to college. And then I subsequently went to law school and at a certain point, inertia just kind of took over doing well in school and I decided to get a graduate degree. I’m very grateful for that whole experience. But there was always this kind of nagging and almost-painful feeling of [when] I’d go to a concert and I would see somebody perform and I was happy to be there. I love live music, but it was almost painful. I would look up at the stage and think, why isn’t that me? Why am I not doing that? And at a certain point in time, it just was too much and I realized I would always regret not going after my dreams and my passions. I remember talking to my dad. I was in law school at the time, and I told him I wanted to be a musician. He really supported me going after my dreams and encouraged me to go after what I want.
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On Changing Careers
When I had that conversation with my dad, I was already performing quite a bit and had dipped my toe back into music. I put so much time and energy into becoming an attorney, I finished law school and I graduated. I went to the University of Michigan. I had a job set up and waiting for me in D.C. at Gibson Dunn and Crutcher. Upon graduation, I took the bar just to round out that whole experience. Most people when they take the bar exam, they take a bar trip before they start at their firms or their clerkship or wherever they’re going. I decided to go down to Nashville and scheduled a bunch of meetings. It was on that trip that I met my producer and when I started to work on my first EP called No Rules. At that time I knewI wanted to make the full switch, but I was so green in this industry that I decided to pursue both simultaneously, so I still went to my law firm. I practiced there for almost three years while I was on the weekends going to Nashville and recording and performing. I’m very grateful to everyone and my producer and everyone that I was working with because they were very accommodating with my schedule, knowing that I was practicing and a full-time attorney.
On Watching Her Mother, Lynda Carter, Perform
I’ve obviously learned a lot from my mom. A lot of it was really related to music, watching her perform and the band and the musicians that she’s put together. I learned a lot by her example. She’s an amazing storyteller. She’s an amazing entertainer. I remember the first time I saw her on stage. She had really stopped performing while I was growing up and then went back into performing when I was high school. And there’s this piece of her that really just came alive on stage. It’s completely authentic to herself and her personality. Watching somebody do something that they truly love to do and are excited about, there’s something that really comes alive and it’s almost intoxicating to watch. I got to perform with her a little bit, and I learned so much from her. I’m very grateful that she gave me the space to then figure out my own voice and my own personality, and pave my own path.
On Her Dream Collaborator
I just did this Hotel Cafe appearance [in Los Angeles] where John Mayer performs all the time. I would love to collaborate with him. I also sing one of his covers in my sets regularly, so that would be so unbelievably cool. I’m trying to manifest that.
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On What’s Next
My new EP Aftermath comes out November 3. That will also be the title track and is really the theme of all of my future releases for the next year. We’ve all had different experiences in the pandemic: So many people have had loss and hardship, and it really [brings up the question] of what happens in the wake of something tragic, difficult or life changing. What I have come to find personally is that life goes on and you have that sadness and you are changed, but there are so many beautiful things that still continue to happen. That’s really the theme that I’ve been playing around with and exploring, which has been very cathartic.
With reporting by Andrea Simpson