CMA Musician of the Year Jenee Fleenor is not only the first woman to win the CMA Musician of the Year award, she is also the first woman to receive the nomination for that award as well as the ACM's Specialty Instrument Player of the Year. The longtime fiddle player for Blake Shelton and NBC's "The Voice" is released her new single "Good Ol' Girls" on March 13. "Good Ol' Girls" follows Jenee's latest single, "Fiddle & Steel," which has already racked up more than 200,000 Spotify streams. Jenee recently received her second nomination for the ACM's Specialty Instrument Player of the Year and was honored for her groundbreaking achievements in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's American Currents: State of the Music exhibit.
MUC: As the reigning CMA Musician of the Year, how has this changed your life since receiving this honor?
Well, I thought I was busy before the award, but I'm definitely busier than I've ever been!...and I definitely don't take it for granted. Since I moved to Nashville, I've been fortunate to always have a road gig, but I remember a time in my early 20s wondering if my phone would ever ring to do sessions. I moved to town with a dream of being a session musician - a Nashville Cat - and I'm so blessed to say I keep a full schedule of recording on all types of records.
I've also had some "icing on the cake" things come across my table - like doing some collaborations with some of my favorite brands! I'm a country gal through and through and I have a love for country fashion - turquoise, (Lord, how I love my turquoise!), fringe, cowboy boots and lots of sparkles! Southern Fried Chics decked me out in their amazing sequins clothes on the CMAs and have featured me in their online boutique. And right now, I am featured in the Double D Ranchwear magazine! They wanted to tell my story and do a photoshoot at the Ryman in their amazing clothes and jewelry and I was, of course, all in!
MUC: Your CMA Award, fiddle and wardrobe memorabilia are currently on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame. You are now on display with some of country music's most influential and successful women in the music industry. Congratulations. Who has influenced you the most from the female sector of music in your own career?
Yes, and my jaw hit the floor when I received that news! Being featured in the CMHOF at all, not to mention this early in my career, just blew me away! Tammy Rogers-King, Andrea Zonn and Wanda Vick are just a few of the amazing female fiddlers that inspired me along the way. I met Tammy years ago when she was touring with Reba and I was in Terri Clark's band. Most people know her now for her amazing work in The SteelDrivers. I'm such a fan!! I remember seeing Andrea Zonn play with Vince Gill and was just mesmerized! I know she has recently been on tour with James Taylor, so that tells you what an amazing talent she is!! And as a little girl, I remember watching Wanda Vick on TNN and I remember my Mom telling me, "See that lady right there! She is an amazing fiddle player AND she smiles at the camera while she's doing it!" As a little girl, I remember I didn't smile much when I played my fiddle...haha. Boy those times have changed! And what little girl fiddler wasn't inspired by Alison Krauss!? The fact I've played twin fiddles with Alison on "The Voice" and that she will answer a text message from me makes me do a double take every time!
MUC: We LOVE your new single Good Ol' Girls! What was it like writing a female inspired lyric with Phil and Buddy?
I knew someone would ask this question! Buddy asked me when we were writing it, "Did I just lose my 'man card??' ha! Phil and Buddy are dear friends of mine, some of the best writers I've ever worked with, and we've had quite a few cuts together. We co-wrote "Fiddle & Steel" and I think we were putting the finishing touches on it one day, and when we were done with that song, I threw 'em a curve ball and asked them to help me write "Good Ol' Girls." I just couldn't get that melody and idea out of my head and it just felt right to bring it to the writer's room that day. Heck, I've written my share of male songs with them, so I figured I'd turn the tables on 'em!
MUC: We are big supporters of Women in Country Music here at Music Update Central. As a growing force and leader in country music, what advice would you offer to young women aspiring to create a career for themselves in this industry?
These first few things goes for anyone. Practice, practice, practice, then practice some more! Know your instrument inside and out. Be on time (this sounds so elementary, but it is so important!). Be courteous. Ask questions. Have a firm handshake.
For my young women out there - Growing up I've had a few instances where I heard, "you're pretty good for a girl"...and ya' just gotta have some thick skin. Be confident and just ignore the nay-sayers. I always say, "the proof is in the pickin!"