Jessica Hines is one of those people. She started singing when she was a toddler and hasn’t stopped since. But unlike most of us, Jessica has talent — the kind of talent that has led some to make comparisons with Etta James and Janis Joplin.

“This gal has a tremendous, powerful voice,” says one ardent fan. “She literally whips the band into a frenzy and slaughters the audience. It’s interesting to watch people in the audience who have never heard her sing. She gets up on stage and starts to belt out a song and their jaws drop. When she does a certain Etta James song, I’ve seen some in the audience wiping tears.”

Hines is 28 and lives in Peru. She recently performed in Lewiston and has some Auburn gigs coming up. And she agreed to answer some of our questions.

Word is that you’ve been belting out the blues since you were 7 years old. How’d you get started so young? I haven’t been belting out the BLUES since I was 7 years old, but I have been singing since I could make sound. Like many children, music and song were a huge part of growing up. My memories are infused with it. I grew up with my grandparents, and remember cousins coming over to play guitar and sing gospel in our living room. I remember singing along with the 8-tracks of Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash and Cher in the camper; summer afternoons making up dance routines with my sister-friend, Jan, to Elvis records spinning on the front porch of our 62 Duke mobile home in Peru, Maine. Music was always a place I belonged. I sang, mostly, because, no one ever told me I couldn’t.

I started singing blues a few years ago because my friend and husband, Tom, was heavily influenced by it. He is a blues drummer and the music just made sense to me; the emotion of it. I wanted to share in its history. I wanted to feel the way blues makes me feel as often as possible.

Who are you performing with currently? Primarily, I play with Jessie Mae and the Two Timers, Matt and the Barnburners, and have a duo project with my friend Steve Bailey from I. C. Waters, called Jessie Mae and the Iceman. I am blessed to have made some beautiful friends who are also very talented blues musicians here in Maine. Their enthusiasm and passion is inspiring and I am always so grateful for opportunities I have to share a song with them.

Who were your early musical heroes? My mom, who sang songs with me into a tape recorder in Vermont to send to my grandparents in Maine. My Nana and Grampa, who taught me silly and sometimes naughty songs that I in turn attempted to teach my own children. And then of course, because I am a chick who sings, Stevie Nicks and Janice Joplin. And I’ve always loved Elvis.

Who was cooler: Presley or Jim Morrison? Elvis. He was a staple of my childhood.

What’s your favorite part of a performance? Singing the blues is more than just about singing a song. It’s about being a part of the song, right along with the guitar players and the drummer, the guy or girl on sax or keys or harp; right along with the people who have chosen to stay and listen, and maybe even move to it; right along with every person who has performed that song before you or who influenced how the song is played by you, now. It’s an intimate experience. My favorite part of the performance is when I am able to put away all of my thoughts on the technical parts of a song’s delivery and just be with the song.

A rolling stone gathers no moss. Where Jessica will be performing:

Feb. 20: Jessie Mae and the Two Timers at Brays in Naples, 8 p.m.

March 6: Jessie Mae and the Ice Man at Suds Pub in Bethel, 8 p.m.

March 12 and 13: Jessie Mae and the Two Timers at The Wrong Turn Pub in Kenduskeag, 8:30 p.m.

March 20: Matt and the Barnburners, Saddleback ski area, Rangeley, 3 p.m.

April 29: Jessie Mae and the Ice Man at Gritty McDuff’s, Auburn, 8 p.m.

May 15: Jessie Mae and the Ice Man at Gritty McDuff’s, Auburn, 8 p.m.


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