She’s talented, she’s beautiful and she’s married to one of the NFL’s hottest football players, New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker. But there are a couple of misconceptions about Jessie James Decker.
Misconception No. 1: her image is too sexy; therefore she’s mean or threatening. Sitting down with the mom of two revealed that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, she’s sexy, but Jessie James Decker, 28, is far from mean or threatening. Turns out, she’s warm, down to earth and very charming. Believe it or not, there was a time when female fans didn’t like the petite singer/songwriter.
“My first record deal, I had a really hard time with female fans,” reveals Jessie. “They didn’t like me and I couldn’t get girls to like me. It was so hurtful. It just didn’t seem like they could get past, I guess, the image. I grew up in the South and I thought Southern girls were some of the sexiest girls I’ve ever seen in my life, so I didn’t think it was a big deal, but women hated me.”
The bullying got to be so bad that she had to disable the comments section of her music videos.
“Part of why I did our reality show—[E! Network’s ‘Eric and Jessie: Game On’]— was I felt like this would be a way for girls to get to know me and know that I might have a sexy image but I am just not like that,” Jessie adds. “I am not the girl that’s gonna take your boyfriend or be a mean girl. I’m such a girls’ girl and I just want to help people and inspire other women and build confidence in girls, it’s so important to me. I think from doing the show, it’s changed my life. I am so appreciative of it because it did help and now all my fans are girls. 90 percent of them are females, and when you come to my shows, it’s all girls. If there are any guys it’s because they brought their boyfriends. It’s all girls and it’s all I wanted my whole life.”
Misconception No. 2: Jessie is a pop artist who just decided to try country. Not true. Jessie started in country and always wanted to be a country singer, but fate led her career down a different path—one she didn’t necessarily want to go down, but found herself without many options.
Jessie James—before getting married in 2013—hit the country music scene in 2009, releasing her self-titled album, which included her first single, “Wanted.” The single reached the Top 40 on the Billboard country charts but went to number 23 on the Billboard pop charts, creating the perception that Jessie was a pop artist, not a country artist.
“You know what’s funny, it wasn’t my intention to be that pop,” said Jessie. “I started coming to Nashville when I was 15, and it was my dream to be the next Shania Twain. I loved country music. I grew up in yodeling contests, it was my whole world. As soon as I graduated high school in Georgia, I moved to Nashville. I was writing with Jamey Johnson and Randy Houser and working with all these great people. I went to every label and got turned down by everybody. I was so heartbroken. Then all of a sudden my music kind of got out there and all these pop labels heard about me. I remember it being bittersweet. It was exciting, but at the same time I was like, ‘But I want to be here. I’m a little Georgia girl. I don’t know how to deal with the pop stuff.’
“L.A. Reid was one of the producers that heard me. He flew me up to his office and I sang for him,” she recalls. “I sang a song called ‘My Cowboy,’ which was a song I wrote with Jamey Johnson and Randy Houser and it was produced by John Rich. L.A. was like, ‘You’re country. Well let’s make a country record.’ So I was really excited and I felt like, OK, maybe it’s gonna go that direction. Well, it just didn’t go that direction. Before I knew it, I was in the studio with all these hip-hop producers and pop writers and I was crying. I got really sad because I just felt like this is not the plan. So I had to fight really hard to have the record be even as country as it was. And for that time period in pop, they were like, ‘This is too country.’ It was a battle to even have them play my music on pop because they thought it was too country.”
And there she was—too country for pop and too pop for country. Jessie found herself in a place not knowing what to do. Her music was simply ahead of its time for the country format. “If you listen to that first record now, it fits in really well, doesn’t it?” Jessie asks. And it does. Fast-forward to today and Jessie is finding herself right where she wants to be.
“L.A. has always been such a big supporter of mine and he’s the CEO and Chairman of Epic Records, the label I’m on now. His support has never wavered, but I felt like before it wasn’t my time. I’m glad now that it didn’t work out at first because I got to really figure out the direction I needed to go in. My creativity and who I became as a woman really developed.”
“I feel like my music now is exactly how I want to be portrayed and who I am. I really hope people don’t think that I just woke up one day and decided I’m going to be a country singer. I get so offended because it’s so far from the truth. I’ve been doing this for years and this is my heart and soul. I just had a little bit of a wrong turn. I’m a country girl.”
This country girl has a new album on the horizon that will include her latest single, “Lights Down Low”—written by Jessie and Alyssa Bonagura—which debuted at No. 38 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The song, pulled straight from Jessie’s life, tells the story of a woman who just wants some quiet time alone with her man. And who wouldn’t when you’re husband is Eric Decker.
“I was really inspired by my husband and our life together. We don’t get to go out. We’re at home with food all over us, changing dirty diapers and the house is a mess. To just get 30 minutes alone together, we cherish it because we’ve got two babies—two under 2— two diapers, two pacifiers. It’s just a lot so I wanted to write something for other parents like us who don’t get to go out and have those fancy dinners all the time so you have to make the most of it and have that moment together at home.”
To accompany the “Lights Down Low” single, Jessie released an intimate video co-starring her 6’3″ husband—sans shirt—who turns out wasn’t too difficult to convince to take the part in the video.
“The alternative was another model with his shirt off all over his wife,” she says with a laugh. “He was totally fine with doing it, he doesn’t care.”
Married and a mother of two—Vivianne Rose, 2, and Eric Thomas II, 11 months—Jessie realizes that motherhood has changed her. “It makes me realize what’s more important than anything. My music and my career are important to me but I never thought that I would care about something more. Ever since I had kids, if work interferes with Bubby’s birthday or Vivi’s singing in a recital or something, I can’t do it, I’m sorry. There’s no question. They’re number one and everything else doesn’t matter anymore.”
Happy and content with her life now, the Georgia native is able to look forward to the next chapter in her music career. She is currently in the studio working on her next album, tentatively due out at the end of the year.
“Pretty much the record’s done,” she reveals. “There are a couple more songs we might want to throw on there or work on but for the most part it’s done. I’ve written a bunch of songs. I’ve pretty much written everything on the record. There’s a couple that I wrote by myself which I’m really excited about. Then there are probably two that will go on the album that I did not write—Maren Morris [“My Church”] wrote them. She sent me a couple songs and one of them was a song called ‘Too Young to Know’ and then there was another one called ‘Shoot Out the Lights.’ Those will both be on my record and they’re amazing songs.”
As far as the sound of the new album? “It is very similar to what you’re hearing with ‘Lights Down Low,’” said Jessie. “I want it to be a mix of fun, enjoyable and light but at the same time I want it to have depth because there is a very deep side to my music. I’m a songwriter just as much as I am a singer and I feel like the songwriting, the lyrics and the messages that I get out are very important. I’ve evolved a lot since my first record deal—almost 10 years ago—it’s crazy, but I’m still me.”