Merry Ellen Kirk, who goes by the stage name Jolene, won Second Place in the International Song Competition for her song titled “Casanova Of The Canyon” under the Americana category. I had the opportunity to interview Merry about her music.
Where are you originally from? Where are you located now?
I am originally from nowhere, and am now located in the dream dimension, called HEMISPHERES. In a previous life I was born in Memphis, lived in Mongolia when I was a youngling, spent my adolescence in the Nashville area, got married and moved away to Alaska, got sucked into a black hole, then fell asleep so that you can come into my dream journey.
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career as a musician?
I never really had much choice about it, the path chose me. Once I started writing songs though, there was no going back. That was half my life ago now.
Who is your biggest influence/inspiration to become a musician?
Jolene. My soul. My "me".
There's nothing else she wanted more, and no outside force ever held a candle to her.
As I was trying to pinpoint my sound and find similar artists early on in my journey, I was steered in the direction of Tori Amos, Kate Bush, and I also loved Imogen Heap and Regina Spektor, so they became inspirations.
What genre of music do you consider yourself to be?
I do not consider myself to be a genre. I consider myself to be a burner of the box.
What was your inspiration for writing the song that you submitted for the International Songwriting Competition?
I love going on long drives and solo adventures; I was out at a ranch near Sedona and went to some nearby Palatki cliff dwellings from the 1100s. A tour guide was showing a small group around, and pointed out a heart carved in the wall with two people's initials in it, carved in the early 1900s, I think - very cute. He went on to tell the group that the fella's initials were also carved in several canyon walls throughout the area, with a variety of different women's initials in the hearts; the tour guide had affectionately nicknamed this heartbreaker the Casanova of the Canyon. It was begging for a song. This song & the video will officially release in early 2022 as part of HEMISPHERES || WEST.
What do you hope for listeners to take away after listening to your song/music?
A deeper connection with themselves.
What is your favorite song that you’ve released and why?
Diamond Eyes. It is the mirror, the entryway into self, the beginning of the introspective journey. Look inside, the eyes are the gateway to the soul.
Who were your favorite musicians growing up? Do you feel that they played a role in influencing your music today?
Growing up, I was in an isolated musical environment. I only heard Christian music at home, plus a bit of Mongolian music on the radio or later Spice Girls & Britney Spears at the skating rink. I loved Rebecca St. James and her record "God" still holds a special place in my heart. I later educated myself on popular music through the history of recorded music (which isn't all that long in the scheme of things) and the world opened up quite a bit. Somewhere in there I began to carve out my own sound.
If you could collaborate with any musician throughout history, who would you choose and why?
Nikola Tesla. I would love to create music with Nikola Tesla. "I am part of a light, and it is the music. The Light fills my six senses: I see it, hear, feel, smell, touch and think. Thinking of it means my sixth sense. Particles of Light are written note. A bolt of lightning can be an entire sonata. A thousand balls of lightning is a concert....Numbers and equations are signs that mark the music of the spheres...These sounds are the messages to the mind that life has meaning, that the Universe exists in perfect harmony, and its beauty is the cause and effect of Creation. This music is the eternal cycle of stellar heavens."
Do you have any new projects that you are working on?
Yes, I am releasing/unravelling the interactive multimedia storyworld of HEMISPHERES... I also have a collection of songs which fell straight out of the crack in my heart as I went through a divorce this past year, so that's coming soon too.
Are you planning on touring/performing any shows in the near future?
I will tour again when I have a new sort of live music experience ready to share. I do not know how near that future is.