There is an incredible amount of Midwest musical talent in our own backyard. Janice Gilbert is a South Dakota singer, songwriter with a classic country sound and rich storytelling in her songs.

I first heard Janice during a singer songwriter showcase night at Full Circle Book Co-Op.

I am a fan of people who take their talent, chase their dreams, and share their art with the world.

I am always curious about peoples journey and asked Janice some questions about her love for music and pursuing that dream.

When did you first fall in love with music?

I believe I fell in love with music when I was just a child. My mom loved to sing, play guitar and piano, play her favorite records as we cleaned the house, etc. There was just always music around! As we got older, I performed with my mom and my siblings at various events in the community and have ever since.

Was there an artist, band or album that changed music for you? 

Trisha Yearwood was a huge influence for me. I just love the texture and richness of her voice.  She was not a songwriter but I feel like she was really good at just finding great songs and performing them so well.  I also remember as a teenager, winning a Steven Curtis Chapman cassette tape on one of those radio call-in contests.  I remember wearing that cassette out and being so enamored with the notes in the liner.  After that, any cassette and CD (eventually) I was able to get my hands on, I’d read all of the liner notes and see who were the writers of my favorite songs.

What is the hardest part about living the music dream?

I feel like the hardest part is finding balance.  I was never one of those people that could just give it all up and go for it...all the way at least!  I had to have a real job! My husband and I did move to Nashville in 2006 and it was a huge leap of faith for us.  We are both big-time planners but we moved without jobs. All we had lined up was an apartment 17 hours away from home and a U-haul truck. Moving away from our families was probably the hardest part of chasing the dream.  We moved back to SD in 2013 and enjoy being close to family again.

If you could have lunch with three of your musical heroes living or dead who would you eat with and what restaurant would you bring them to?

Trisha Yearwood, I’m not sure where I’d bring her because she has her own cooking show and cook book so that would be a little intimidating to make sure I got it right! Maybe Cracker Barrel or some unknown but spectacular Southern meat-n-three.

Chris Wallin, professional songwriter, and we’d go to the Waffle House because he taught me that they have a secret pecan pie that you have to ask for.

Garth Brooks, Texas Roadhouse, because he seems like a steak and potato kind of guy.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to pursue a music career?

I would say that a successful music career takes a whole lot of networking and luck.  Also, I’d say to stay true to yourself.  I’ve seen so many people conform to what they think the industry wants and they end up losing who they are.  I think the world needs unique artists.  If we’re all trying to be like this artist or that artist then everything just starts to sound the same. Embrace your uniqueness and make it your brand. Nobody else can be you!

What albums have you recorded and where can people get them?

Before I left for Nashville, I recorded a little CD single with Mitchell-based C-Sharp Productions (now based in Minneapolis).  That single is probably available at garage sales! While in Nashville though, I recorded three full length albums (Pickin’ Life’s Pocket, 2008; Bloom, 2011; Choices, 2013).  They are available on all digital distribution sites like Amazon, CDBaby, iTunes, Rhapsody, Spotify, etc. I also have good old hard copies of Bloom and Choices that are available when I play out.

Is there some place people can follow your music career? 

I have my music and updated show schedules/events on Reverbnation.com/janicegilbert and my Facebook page @janicegilbertmusic

Anything else you would people would like to know about you?

I have a hobby of singing the national anthem before sporting events. I’ve sung for the Sioux Falls Canaries, the Sioux Falls Stampede, Omaha Royals, Nashville Sounds, etc. The biggest one I’ve ever sung for was the Chicago White Sox when it was U.S. Cellular Field

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