YouTube Star CJaye LeRose Chats About Her New Album, Life in Nashville and Her Love of Brad Paisley
Self-made YouTube star CJaye LeRose is the shining example of positivity and bubbliness, the kind of girl who could put a smile on even the grumpiest face. Her delightful video uploads on the popular share site include a blend of classic country covers and thoughtful original tunes -- and LeRose never fails to maintain her charming personality and glowing smile.
If you thought LeRose couldn't possibly sparkle any more, get this: Not only has she homegrown herself into an Internet music super-success, she also rescues shelter dogs by the handful. The 26-year-old Texas native chatted with Taste of Country about her upcoming debut album, 'Date With the Tub,' her new life in Nashville and what inspires her in her blossoming career. Oh ... and her obvious love for her country idol, Brad Paisley.
Let's start from the beginning. How did you get into this and how long have you been singing?
I haven't been one of those girls that has been performing my whole life. I feel like I've always been singing, but I guess I was in college when I decided I wanted to pursue it. I did the Nashville thing and came out here, and nothing was clicking and I was thinking, "This is never gonna work."
About two years ago, I started posting YouTube videos of me singing and doing covers, and I was like, "I love this! Finally I have a way to get my music out there." I'd been writing songs, and you know, singing at little places in Texas, but nothing big, and I didn't have an avenue really for anyone to hear my music. That's when I started posting videos online and I realized that so many people are on their computers all day long. It's such a great way to meet people! I felt like a weird girl in my living room filming myself singing, but I grew to love it!
Watch CJaye LeRose Sing Her Original Song 'The Fishing Song'
Did you have YouTube stars that you followed? What made you decide to start uploading your videos?
Actually, I started my YouTube channel with dog rescue videos, and I was thinking that overnight I was going to have like a million hits and save like a million dogs. That's my first passion, dog rescue. I had like four or five hits on each one of them, and I think they were all me.
Anyway, one of the people who had commented on my channel ... I went to her channel and I saw a girl singing, and she had probably like a couple million hits on this one video. I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is such a good idea! This is what I should do!" I don't even know who it was, but now I follow a ton of people who sing on YouTube. That's what gave me the idea. My family and everyone thought I was crazy, because I was in school at the time and I was like, "I wanna do YouTube full time." And they were like, "Are you serious?" I would spend all day on there just messaging people, answering comments, trying to talk back to as many people as I could, and I think they thought I was nuts at first. I was in classes and when I was sitting in class I couldn't wait to get home -- like, 'I've got so many comments coming in and I can't be here, I can't do this! This is how I'm going to do my music!
We read that no one in your family is musical, and you mentioned that you didn't really get into it until college. So, why country music?
That's all I ever listened to growing up. I never listened to anything else. I remember my first CD was Faith Hill. My mom listened to country, so I guess that's what I just always grew up around, and I think I'd sound really weird singing, like, Lady Gaga.
Yeah, we saw that you were trying to get on his tour! How's that going?
[Laughs] That's kind of a joke, just being goofy. I made a video and I was like, "Hey," and telling everyone, "Feel free to bother Brad Paisley and Facebook him and tell him I wanna be on his tour!" That's not working out for me. When I first saw him, probably about a year ago, I was flying paper airplanes on his stage, saying, "I want to go out with you!" But he never looked at them, he kept just walking over them. I just like to be goofy and do fun things. I'm not taking myself too seriously when I do them, but I guess I am serious in a way! I would like to be on the tour.
See CJaye LeRose's Proposal to Brad Paisley
Did you teach yourself to play guitar?
I took lessons from a guy in the Woodlands, but I just learned the basic chords. When I started posting videos, I would learn song by song. I knew my chords, and I would practice it for like six hours until I actually got it down and it flowed. So, I kind of learned as I was going and posting the videos. It didn't really come naturally to me, but I didn't have anyone to play for me, so I had to learn. It's been good, too, 'cause that's how I've written my songs. I'd have my chord chart out in front of me and I'd learn from that, like, "Okay, I can use these chords in these songs."
We've been watching your videos, and it seems like your original songs are pretty popular with your viewers. What is your writing process like? What kinds of things do you write about?
The main thing, when I get an idea that I think is kind of … I don't know if it's funny, or you know, something that I would normally get upset about, and I try to look at the positive side of it. [With] my song 'The Porch,' I was locked out on the back porch one day for three hours, and I was alone. And I always get so mad at guys spending time with their boyfriends and not me, and I was like," Oh, I'll kick you out on the porch." So instead of writing a song about how I'm so mad, I thought, "Oh, I'll kick you out." I just try to look on the funny side and see how I can make someone laugh or someone smile. I'm all about spreading the happiness. That's what inspires me -- if I can get a laugh out of someone.
Check Out CJaye LeRose Performing Her Original Song 'The Porch'
It has obviously developed into a big thing, because now you have your own site and everything. Have you been recognized out in public yet?
I did at the airport, twice, by people who worked at the airport. The TSA officer one time, and a guy who was handing me my bags. He goes, 'Are you CJaye?' and I screamed.
And you're living in Nashville now. How is that different from being in Houston?
Yeah, I live in Nashville. I come back and forth, but I'd say I probably spend 3/4 of my time here. I feel like this is where I'm alive. It sounds so cheesy, but I felt lost kind of when I was in Texas, because I had wanted this thing for so long. And you know, the opportunities that you get in Nashville aren't in Texas -- unless you're in Austin, and I wasn't there. I just feel so happy. Everyone around me has the same interests here and it's like you're around people who love the same thing you do. It's like my whole world has changed.
So now you're working on your debut album, 'Date With the Tub.' Can you tell us a bit about it? When can we expect it?
In about two weeks. It's supposed to be done about now, but we're just now getting the artwork finished. I'm gonna have it available on my website and iTunes, and I'll also have some hard copies, but mainly online.
Is it all originals, or are there some covers on there too?
It's all songs I wrote, but there's gonna be a bonus track. This is unofficial right now, but I think there's gonna be a bonus track that I didn't write. We're still teetering right now about whether it's gonna be on there or not.
See CJaye LeRose's Cover of Sugarland's 'Stuck Like Glue'
What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment thus far?
Just coming up to Nashville and actually going for it. I never dreamed that I'd actually have an album, or that I'd be meeting some of the people that I've met. I used to think people in Nashville were like, from another planet. You know, a cousin of a cousin of a cousin that knew somebody -- I didn't think I'd ever get to meet them. I didn't think that was possible. So just coming out here and seeing that these things are possible, like every little milestone I've accomplishment, I'm proud of that. Every little thing makes me so happy, because I used to not think I'd ever be able to do it, so everything is exciting at this point.
Are you hoping to tour after the album is released?
Yeah! I don't have plans for a tour, but like I said: Brad Paisley, I'm CJaye!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully I'll have made another album, 'cause I'm already writing new songs that I want people to hear that aren't going to be on this one. I guess that's how it goes. I've been waiting for this one to be released, so hopefully I'll have another album. And hopefully I'll have gone on a tour with Brad, or someone else, and just continue working on my music. Hopefully, in five years, I'll have met all of these people that have supported me online and thank them and give them big hugs!
What advice do you have for other people looking for a way to share their talent with the world?
Don't be scared! I spent way too much time worrying what other people were thinking about me and it's not worth it. Everything's possible. If people tell you no, just don't listen to them -- put your ear muffs on and truck onward.