We had the good fortune of connecting with Jordyn Foley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jordyn, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Ever since I was two years old, I knew I was meant to be a vocalist and a storyteller. Through finding moments of shared consciousness through lyrics, harmonies, and instrumentation, nothing fills my soul more than being able to use my voice to connect with the world and those around me. The energy created is almost palatable. What is so beautiful about being in a creative career such as singing and acting, is the idea that not only are my stories being heard, I can use my abilities to help others be heard through my activist and philanthropist-filled motives. There is honestly nothing else I can imagine doing or would want to do with my life than to be a performer.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
At the heart of it all, I am a storyteller. Music has this almost unconscious ability to reach down into your soul and evoke layers of emotions. Combine that with the right lyrics, and you have an amazing piece of art. As a singer, I have the opportunity to bring that to life, making it a communal experience. I tend to gravitate to folk & indie rock, but I also have been known to genre hop. This is because I do not like to pigeonhole myself. Art should not be constrictive. While music is my first love, acting is a close second. Creating a character, and getting to see the world through someone else’s eyes, have made me a better storyteller. I grew up singing. I remember mimicking my mom as she rehearsed her music. When I was 3 years old, I got up on stage at a local festival and belted out “Tomorrow” from the musical “Annie,” My mom said I butchered the lyrics, but stayed on the pitch.” All I can remember is that I was hooked! Growing up with a single mom and living off a teacher’s salary, career essentials such as training were an occasional luxury. So, I honed my craft by singing in festivals and recitals, and by making videos at home. When I was 5, I performed “No Good Deed” from “Wicked” at the local mall. My grandfather was away on business, so my mom shared it with him, by uploading the video to YouTube. She logged in a week later and found messages from “The Rachel Ray Show” (Child musical prodigies) and “Oprah” (Most Talented Kid series) and invitations to audition for national tours. I wanted to do it all! However, as a performer herself, my mom was very hesitant about allowing me to jump into the industry at such a young age. So she made me a deal, I continue to perform locally and keep up my grades and we would reevaluate when I turned 12. I spent the next 7 years performing in back-to-back musicals and I kept up my grades! When I was 12, I found out that “The X-Factor” a televised vocal competition created by Simon Cowell, was auditioning in the Bay Area. Keeping up her end of the bargain, my mom allowed me to try out and a few made the show. While that is a story, ultimately, I was just not ready for it, and I went home during boot camp. The fallout after that show aired, resulted in me being bullied for things that were out of my control. This experience only helped me to develop a thick skin, it solidified my resolve to become a better musician. I started taking vocal and piano lessons and started to teach myself various instruments. I was involved with some super cool projects. I got my first paid gig recording the cast album for Ron Lytle’s “The Man Who Saved Christmas.” and then he brought me on and I originated the role of Dorothy in his new musical “Christmas in Oz.” I had to slow down a bit when hard times fell on our family. My nana was diagnosed with cancer and my grandpa, mom, brother, and I all lived together to care for her. Watching her struggle was hard enough, but we also had to move out of our house and live in a hotel with friends for a short time. My mom tried to keep things as normal as possible, as did my grandpa. I continued performing in musicals and took every performing arts class I could at school. Theatre, playwriting, AP music theory, jazz band, and choir, but I was having trouble finding myself as an artist. That changed when my mom insisted that I listen to some of her favorite musicians. She introduced me to what she refers to as her “School of Rock.” I was always looking for songs that allowed me to utilize my range, and rock music was it! I loved listening to and singing the vocals of Stevie Nicks, Freddie Mercury, Amy Lee, and Ann Wilson, During this time I started working as a professional party princess. It was not uncommon to find me dressed as Rapunzel while belting out “Barracuda” in my car. However, I was still having trouble finding my style. I graduated high school and started studying for my BFA in Voice Arts at The California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia. I took a bit of a gamble and ONLY applied to that program. I loved the intimate, colorful vibe and the way they encourage artists to connect and collaborate across disciplines. After my first year at Calarts, I had to take a gap year. My family had to move again and was struggling financially. Even though I had a generous scholarship from the Disney family, we could not afford the tuition. This ended up being a blessing in disguise when that October I lost my high school sweetheart, and one of my closest friends. That was a devastating loss, that shook me to my core. There was a lot to unpack, and I needed that time to do so. A few months later the pandemic hit, and we were all home anyway. During the shelter-in-place months, I remained surprisingly busy. I was hired to perform a selection of Ron Lytle’s repertoire for a streaming show through Cisco Systems. I filmed a few independent movies, was chosen to perform via Yes Theory for Living Room Concerts that was streamed worldwide, co-taught virtual choir to elementary school students, and I started writing original music. Now technically, I started writing music in 3rd grade, but no one wanted to hear my elementary school lyrics ruminating on how “homework sucks.” Inspired by artists such as Alanis Morissette, I strive for brutal honesty in my lyrics and hope to use my songs to tell my story and to connect with the world around me. At 21, I had far more life experience to draw on. Even so, I struggled to finish a song. Nothing felt good enough to share. When the fall rolled around, I could return to my studies virtually at Calarts. As I go into my last year at Calarts, I am grateful for all the connections I have made, and the things I have learned- like being able to record vocals on Avery Scanlons’s Jazz album “Aurora”.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
LA is so fun to introduce people to because of the endless activities. There is truly something for everyone. For entertainment purposes, I love to take my friends to Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, or Disneyland because there is so much to do, and is an all-day adventure. If I know my friend loves being outdoors and into nature, I would take them on a hike in Santa Clarita, horseback riding in Topanga, or to my favorite beach, Zuma. To impress my friends with my taste palette, I would take them to Porto’s, Solita’s, or Cactus Taqueria. LA is full of discoveries and my favorite part of introducing someone to LA is learning more about it with them.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been so fortunate to have an amazing support system, and I am truly grateful to everyone that has helped me to grow into the person and artist, that I am today. That being said, I would like to dedicate this shoutout to a few people that have had the greatest impact on me, artistically. Cliché as it is, I have to recognize my mom. Not only has she been incredibly supportive and empathetic of my artistic process, but she also introduced me to various art forms and genres, and raised me in an environment that gave me a safe place to experiment, grow, and eventually ground myself in my art. All without fear of judgment- which is so important for artists. She is truly my best friend, and I don’t think I’d be where I am without her. I would also love to shout out the Peter Pan Foundation, and its founder Leslie Noel Hansen. This organization has allowed me to use my voice in a meaningful and fulfilling way. Whether it is collaborating with Make a Wish, performing for a child who is a wish recipient, performing at the Children’s Hospital, or any of the other amazing causes that PPF supports, I love being part of a group that supports philanthropy, kindness, equality, and love. I have also made some incredible lifelong friends within this supportive foundation. Finally, I have to include my school, The California Institute of the Arts (especially my mentor, Paul Berkolds) as well as David Victor, formally of the band Boston and founder of Harmony & Healing, and Ron Lytle, composer-lyricist and playwright extraordinaire, for always believing in me, pushing me to be the best I can be, and for giving me incredible opportunities.