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Features

Catching the ear of the industry

Teen singer-songwriter J.J. Burke releasing original music this fall

J.J. Burke has been singing since she was a child. By middle school, she was recording herself as she echoed covers of her favorite artists and strummed along on her guitar. She’d post the recordings on YouTube just for fun.

Soon those renditions of famous hit songs by Taylor Swift, Lorde and Jack White were getting viewed and shared all over the world.

Burke plays guitar and piano, and even plucks away on a ukulele. But these days, it’s the songwriting that keeps her busy. And the talented 16-year-old just released her third single on Nov. 1 and an EP of four original songs will follow in early 2019.

“I think it was in about the eighth grade that it suddenly clicked, that this was something more than a hobby,” Burke says. “I mean, I always had friends or family who would say ‘you’ll be famous one day’ and I would think, ‘okay, that would be cool. But also …college, I should probably do that.’”

But right now, Burke isn’t thinking about college. She’s putting the finishing touches on her new release. She’s flying out to Los Angeles every month to meet with music producers and industry executives. And she’s writing music. She’s always writing music.

“A lot of it just comes from my days, what I am going through. Playing helps me work through things,” she explains.

Describing her style as dark indie pop, Burke’s songs are emotional, touching on the issues that effect so many teens, like friendship, love and trust.

And as she’s building her repertoire, she’s also building her brand, her website and her business. As serious as she is creative, Burke learned a lot about the ins and outs of the trade over the summer as a student in the acclaimed Grammy Foundation Music Camp.

The week-long immersive music industry program is designed for high school students interested in having a career in music. Hosted in Los Angeles, students from across the country apply for one of the eight offered career tracks. GRAMMY Camp’s faculty of music professionals, as well as guest industry professionals, provide valuable insights to give the campers the best chance at achieving success in their chosen career.

“It was such an amazing experience,” Burke says.

She adds that she focused her experience on the business side of music, hoping to gain insight into what it takes to get her music produced, distributed and heard. It was there she met her music producer, and the beginnings of the EP began to take shape.

With social media such an important part of the music industry these days, it is where Burke has been focusing much of her attention, and spending most of her time on promotion and marketing.

“Social media is where kids are getting their music today. It’s where they live,” Burke says. “So it’s where I need to be.”

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