Joanna Yaeger Reintroduces Herself as an Artist with her Latest Release

Joanna Yaeger has reintroduced herself as an artist with the release of her single, “You Shaped Heart.” It has been three years since we last had any new music from the Horseheads, New York native. We first introduced you to Jo Yaeger in a article we published on Elle Mears in 2020. However, I think you will agree Yaeger’s new music was worth the wait. Undiscovered Nashville had the opportunity to sit down with Yaeger to talk about her life, musical journey, and latest release. Please keep reading to learn more about Joanna and “You Shaped Heart.”

Joanna Yaeger Has Always Been a Singer

Joanna Yaeger, many call her Jo, has one of the best voices in Nashville. It’s apparent she has spent most of her life honing her craft. Yaeger said, “I have been singing since I could take. Any place I could sing, I did. Strangely, I used to be very shy, but now I am like, where’s the stage. Everyone in my family had musical abilities, whether they pursued them or not. My mom was one of five girls, and they all sang. I thought it was normal at family gatherings to burst into harmonies. When I hung out with my friends’ families, I wondered why nobody was singing.” 

How many of you can remember doing something for the first time in front of a crowd of people? Were you nervous? Young Joanna seemed fearless as she recalled her first time performing in front of an audience. The singer-songwriter said, “My earliest memory of singing was with my mom. I was riding in the car with my mom and sister. My sister said no when my mom asked her to sing at a women’s luncheon, and I said, I’ll do it. That was the first time I sang in front of a crowd.”

Becoming a Songwriter

Joanna Yaeger began writing poetry at a young age like many future songwriters. Jo said, “I grew up writing poetry. In 2nd grade, I got in trouble for staying in the library when the rest of my class returned to the classroom. I know I was such a rebel, but why did the librarian let me stay? I got in trouble because I wanted to immerse myself in poetry. Being so young, I didn’t understand why I loved it so much. However, I am grateful for those moments because it was a building block for where I am right now.” 

Interestingly, Yaeger was a reluctant songwriter at first. She explained, “I began writing songs at sixteen. However, when the people I was working with suggested I start writing songs, I laughed at the idea. I said, that’s not for me; I am just going to sing. When I looked back, I realized songs are just writing stories in a beautiful, poetic way. Before moving to Nashville, I mainly wrote by myself. So, co-writing was a different world, but it opened so many other things for me.”

Joanna Yaeger  believes she has done her job if she impacts one person with her music.
“If my music impacts at least one person, then I’ve done my job.” Jo Yaeger

Facing your Fears and Chasing Your Dreams

One of my favorite Jo Yaeger songs is called “What If I,” but it is unreleased. I love the message it gives about facing your fears. Jo talked about what sparked the idea and her thoughts on overcoming fear. Yaeger said, “I dreamed of being in Nashville since I was a little girl. “What if I” was a song I wrote the first year I was in town. I was disheartened because I met people who had lived here not much longer than I had, and when I asked if Nashville felt like home yet, they said 100%. However, I hadn’t felt that yet. I was so discouraged because I knew this was where I was supposed to be, but I missed home. I was driving to North Carolina to see my best friend, and as I looked in the rearview mirror, I didn’t want to leave.”

Many people allow themselves to be paralyzed by what they are afraid of, so they refuse to try. Jo captured this in her song, “What if I.” The chorus says, “What if I fall, but what if I fly.” It is a simple but powerful lyric. The singer-songwriter continued, “Everyone has their formula for what they think fear is. Growing up, I heard your fear means something. If you’re afraid to fail at something, then it’s important to you. Just because you have a dream, it doesn’t negate your fear around it. I have realized the older I get that I can focus on what can happen or the negative. All you can do is your best at the moment without being scared to fail.”

Joanna Yaeger and Her Road to Music City

Every singer-songwriter has a story about the decision to move to Nashville. While Yaeger always dreamed of Music City, she waited until the timing felt right to make a move. Joanna said, “I feel fortunate to have never guessed what I wanted to do, but I have to remind myself, everyone’s journey is different. While, I didn’t move to Nashville until I was twenty-three. The plan was to move earlier, but things kept falling through. I am a firm believer in God’s timing over my life. I will do anything to make it in front of a door. However, I want it to be the right door. I only want what’s mine.”

Yaeger continued, “When I was seventeen, I had a development deal with a producer while I was still in high school, but it didn’t work out. I learned many difficult lessons from a young age, so I was biding my time in my hometown. Nashville was always the goal, and I thought I would be on the road by the time I graduated high school. Truthfully, I am thankful I didn’t get my dreams at seventeen. Who knows what would have happened, but I am grateful for the process. It sucked, and it has been difficult, but I am thankful to be sitting here with the songs I am coming out with.”

Persevering in an Industry Full of Disappointments

Nashville can be frustrating and disheartening for every singer-songwriter. Comparing yourself to others can be self-defeating. However, you can only control how you carry yourself and remember to do your best in every moment. Joanna Yaeger has learned those lessons. Yaeger said, “Part of the reason I love music so much is I believe in the power of words. Words that you speak over other people and those you speak over yourself. I am probably the meanest person to myself, but I know everyone’s journey is different. Knowing that is liberating.”

Avoiding comparisons with your peers is one of the challenges facing those chasing their dreams in Nashville. Jo Yaeger explained, “Hands down, one the biggest lessons I have learned in Nashville is to avoid comparison. It’s something I’ve had to keep in check my whole life. Learning the lesson that I am the only one meant to do what I was placed on this earth to do. Knowing that allows you to put blinders on and enables you to support people with a sincere heart. It’s so easy in this town to look and say this person got a record deal, a publishing deal, or this person is writing with this person. As long as I am centered and knowing that I am walking onto a stage with the main goal to affect at least one person’s life, then I’ve done my job.”

In a town that tells you no more often than yes, learning to persevere will determine if you stay in town. The singer-songwriter said, “Another crucial lesson you have to understand is perseverance. You have to force yourself to get back up when you feel like to can’t even move a muscle. Hearing the word no a million times, but you have to keep going. I am grateful for playing sports when I was growing up because sports instilled perseverance in me. Keep going, keep playing, cheer on other people, and do the best you can. If you fail, then practice and get better.”  Yaeger’s song, “Dance in the Rain,” shares a message of pushing through difficult times. If you need a reminder, give it a listen.

"You Shaped Heart" cover art designed by Yaeger's cousin.
“You Shaped Heart” album cover designed by Joanna’s Cousin, Lydia

Joanna Yaeger Releases “You Shaped Heart”

Joanna Yaeger released her latest single, “You Shape Heart,” on March 29, 2021. Yaeger wrote song and it was produced by Evan Sieling. Yaeger talked with us about the inspiration behind the music. Jo said, “It’s one of the most personal songs I’ve written. I held the idea for a few months. My dad was very sick in November, and my mom called to tell me I needed to come home. Whenever I get a call like that, it’s always in the back of my mind if I will make it in time. I remember in the midst of crying, I yelled at God and said, I am not ready; I haven’t written him a song yet. Here I am a full-time songwriter, and I hadn’t written a song for my father. By a miracle, he is still with us.”

Yaeger continued, “I remember sitting on my parent’s couch, and dad was in the next room. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I needed to prepare my heart. You have all these questions running through your brain. For some reason, I was thinking about when someone dies, and people will say it left a hole in their heart. When you think about a hole, you think of a circle, but I don’t have a hole. I have a “U” because I am who I am because of who my father is.”

“You Shaped Heart” is a beautiful song to which many will relate. The singer-songwriter said, “I couldn’t make it home for my dad’s birthday in January, so I wrote him this song. This song was born from a place of healing. I don’t if healing is the right word, but it’s one of the rawest songs I’ve written. I wrote the song by myself because I felt it was most appropriate. It’s exciting for me because it’s the first song I’ve released in three years. But, I feel like I am reintroducing myself as an artist, and it comes at a very personal level.”  

Listen to “You Shaped Heart” right here!

Fun Facts with Joanna Yaeger

Joanna Yaeger is one of the most kind-hearted people I have met in Nashville. While she is undoubtedly a talented singer-songwriter, it’s her personality that draws you in when you talk to her. Jo shared some of her fun facts with us. Yaeger said, “I want to say I am a boring person, but I not. I am loud and kind of quirky. I am obsessed with dogs, especially my yellow lab. On paper, I am boring, but I love to smile and laugh. It may not be a popular opinion, but I love pineapple on my pizza. Also, I am obsessed with coffee. If I seem distracted if you are talking to me in public, it could be that I have self-diagnosed ADHD. I am like a squirrel.” 

My Thoughts

While Jo may think she is boring, I think she provided me with an engaging interview, and we learned what drives her in this industry. I hope I can speak for everyone when I say we are excited to have new music from Joanna Yaeger coming into the world this year. May she continue to move people with her songs and her voice. Please follow Joanna Yaeger’s journey on social media and stream her new song on Apple Music or Spotify. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much I did telling Joanna’s story. 

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