Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador-based singer-songwriter Jenny Mallard has always loved performing. She describes it as her first love.
When she was five years old, she gave her first-ever performance: singing Christmas songs for her kindergarten class. Fast-forward to now. She has performed hundreds of gigs, won an East Coast Music Award for her song “I Want You” and in 2022, released her first album, Into the Deep.
Mallard, a country folk-pop artist, describes her career as escalating quickly after she graduated from university, where she studied business.
“The itch to do what you really want to do typically doesn’t go away. I always knew that my passion was music,” says Mallard. “The little voice in your head saying that you should do it just gets louder. I think listening to that voice is always rewarding.”
Vulnerability is key
For Mallard, vulnerability is a key aspect of her music. “Listen to My Voice”, a song on Into the Deep, is about going through a depressive episode — she wrote the lyrics as the words she needed to hear while struggling. While it used to take a lot out of her to play her deeply personal songs, she has come to realize they are the ones that her audience identifies most deeply with — the more vulnerable her music, the more she is making connections with her audience, which she thinks is the whole purpose of any sort of artist.
“I’m sharing a piece of me every time I sing,” says Mallard.
Because of the amount of hostility most people with an online presence have to endure, something that surprised Mallard is how little hate she gets. While she acknowledges part of the reason could be her audience is fairly small, she attributes most of it to her authenticity.
She was wary at first about being so open, but found it allowed people to cherish her music more. She suspects the truth of her music and lyrics allows people to view her as real of a person as possible.
Being open about mental illness
Mallard is open about her struggles with bipolar disorder and depression. After shows, audience members will often approach her, telling her they feel more connected with her music once she has shared that part of herself.
She takes pride in being a trailblazer for mental health advocacy, believing if she’s vocal about her mental illnesses, then others will begin to be too. She describes her bipolar disorder as her superpower, a mindset she has come to adopt through lots of work and therapy. It’s her superpower because, since she can feel emotions strongly and voice them well, she is able to create beautiful art with deep and relatable meaning.
However, this skill can also be a challenge. She has to be in a specific mindset when writing, either feeling really good or really bad in order to get into the flow of creativity. On an average day, it can be challenging to tap into her songwriting talent.
Staying true to oneself
Mallard learned the hard way not all advice should be taken to heart, especially if it doesn’t feel true. When she was a teenager, she took part in a singing competition and had the opportunity to consult beforehand with the organizer, a well-known industry professional.
She played him some of her original songs. He called them “okay,” advising her to instead sing an Amy Winehouse cover. Looking back on that moment, Mallard knows that something in her gut told her that wasn’t a good idea, but she took his advice. Sure enough, she didn’t make it past the first round. Someone else who had sung an original song did.
For Mallard, this was a powerful lesson. She recognizes lots of advice can be worth taking but advises it should be evaluated from your own perspective to see if it aligns with your values
“If you’re being your authentic self, if you believe in your music and you believe in yourself, then people will resonate with that.”