When Halifax’s Jessie Brown & The Black Divine takes the stage of Moncton venue The Caveau this Saturday night, it will be a homecoming of sorts for Jessie.
“I was born in Nova Scotia but moved to Moncton at age 13,” Jessie begins. “I graduated from Riverview High School but then ended up returning to Nova Scotia to study music.”
The move proved to be a prophetic one for the vocalist. Even though she began studying piano at the age of 6, her parents’ record collection turned Jessie onto the likes of many classic rock favourites.
“My parents had this monstrous record collection with bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. I continue playing piano, and still do today, but I grew interested in wanting to be able to sing. I would sing along with Robert Plant and [Heart vocalist] Ann Wilson in the car with my mother but I was too scared to sing in public. Eventually though, the singing bug got me and I became addicted to it.”
One listen to Jessie’s vocals on her band’s recently released album Act II: Decisions and the listener can immediately identify the influence that listening to Ann Wilson had upon her. There is a richness in Jessie’s voice that is steeped in the history of rock and rool, serving to compliment the low-end, Queens Of The Stone Age-esque music that The Black Divine lays down behind her.
In some respects, Jessie admits that both she and the group are far more comfortable in their own skin on Act II: Decisions than they were with their debut record.
“With our first album, we were still trying to find our sound. We worked with our friend Rob Crowell to develop our sound but still had a bit of a hodge podge of different styles on our hands.
“This time around with making our new record, we had more time and experience to cultivate a sound. We spent a lot of time in the two years since our debut figuring out exactly what ‘our sound’ was going to be. We wanted to have a more specific identity this time around,” Jessie says.
To help bring their latest record to life, Jessie and Black Divine guitarist Adrian Dunn took their old friend Rob Crowell up on an offer they seemingly couldn’t refuse. Crowell, a former teacher of Jessie’s had settled in Nashville, performing as a part of the critically acclaimed act Deer Tick. He invited them to head down to the city to see what they could come up with together.
“At first, Adrian and I thought it was a bit of a joke for him to have suggested we go to Nashville to record but once we saw he was serious about it, it was one of those things that we had to do. We were kind of shocked at the whole prospect of going down to make this record with some of the guys from Deer Tick backing us up.”
To help fund their southerly recording excursion, Jessie Brown & The Black Divine enlisted the help of Halifax-based IOU Music by launching a crowd-funding campaign to help make their new record a reality.
“The people at IOU Music were incredibly helpful getting this project realized. With their help, we ended up raising a good chunk of money via our campaign. It was a little stressful to undertake a campaign like this. It was like leaping into someone’s arms, hoping they catch you. We worked hard to make sure the experience of those contributing was a personal one because they are ultimately the people who helped make the album a reality,” Jessie says.
“Looking back on it now, it was something that was definitely a lot of fun to have undertaken.”