You may not have heard BC Jean’s name, but you’ve probably heard her work. The San Diego-born singer and songwriter tells a poignant story of overcoming romantic betrayal on the song “If I Were A Boy,” which she co-wrote with producer Toby Gad. The track, which appears on Beyoncé’s I Am…Sasha Fierce album, became a chart-topping, multi-platinum hit for the megastar.
Jean’s powerful version will appear on her upcoming debut album to be released early 2011 (J Records), which the 22-year-old is currently completing after working with a host of top-notch collaborators including rock producers Howard Benson (The All-American Rejects, My Chemical Romance), Brian Howes (Daughtry, David Cook), Zac Maloy (David Cook, Jason Castro), and pop hitmakers The Matrix (Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera), Ryan Tedder (Leona Lewis, Kelly Clarkson, Beyoncé) and Max Martin (Katy Perry, Pink). The result is a sparkling collection of edgy, rock-pop sing-alongs and touching balladry that paints an appealing portrait of this vibrant, young talent.
“If I Were A Boy”
The daughter of a piano and trumpet-playing stockbroker father and a talent manager mother, Jean comes from a musical family. Her grandparents, in addition to being painters, were also singers and actors who appeared on such television variety programs as The Perry Como Show and The Fred Waring Show in the 1950’s. Jean fell in love with music from a young age. “My favorite song was ‘She Drives Me Crazy’ by Fine Young Cannibals,” she says. “I would get up on our coffee table, use a lamp as a spotlight, and put on shows for my parents. When they were sick of me, I would set up my cats and dogs, stuffed animals, and Barbies as an audience and perform for them. And I would make my friends be my back-up singers,” she recalls with a laugh.
At age 14, Jean, who played piano, began converting the poetry she was writing into song lyrics. “I listened to No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom, Britney Spears, and Alanis Morrissette and wrote down all of the lyrics to figure out how the songs were constructed,” she says, “that’s how I taught myself.” She also fell in love with the rock records her parents were listening to, albums by Aerosmith, Queen, Heart, and Rod Stewart. In high school, Jean began singing with a San Diego cover band that performed everything from Madonna and Eminem hits to old-time rock and roll and country songs. Her first live show with them was at The Sahara Casino in Las Vegas at age 15. “It was really great because it gave me stage experience and taught me how to sing harmonies. But I wanted to write and perform my own music.”
Jean convinced her mother to move with her to Los Angeles and began collaborating with various songwriters and producers who lived in her apartment complex in the San Fernando Valley. “I worked with this one producer and we recorded in a tiny closet in his apartment. I was drenched in sweat, with one leg here and one arm there trying to sing the high notes,” she recalls. Jean kept writing and making demos until one day she read an article about songwriter/producer Toby Gad in Recording Magazine and decided to send him a message through MySpace. Gad, who has worked with Fergie and The Veronicas, wrote her back and asked for a meeting. Next thing Jean knew, the two were writing songs together in New York, which is where “If I Were A Boy,” was created.
BC Jean In Studio With Producer Ryan Tedder Part 1
Recording her Lead Single
“You’re A Guy”
BC Jean In Studio With Producer Ryan Tedder Part 2
Recording her Lead Single
“You’re A Guy”
Jean had already been in talks with several labels about signing a recording deal when “If I Were A Boy” became a hit for Beyoncé, sparking a fierce bidding war for her services. “You eagerly wait for a multi-talented new artist to come along like BC Jean,” says Sony Music Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer Clive Davis. “She’s already proven her major songwriting ability. And, what’s more, she’s got a truly powerful voice with edge and natural soulfulness. We’re all really delighted that BC has chosen us as her musical home.”
Recording her album is the culmination of a lifelong dream for Jean. “Writing songs and singing is how I express myself,” she says. “I don’t always communicate so well because I keep my guard up with people, so being able to do it through music is important. I’m way more vulnerable in my songs. I want people to listen to them over and over and feel something. I try to make what I write about relatable, but with a lot of musical twists and turns to keep it interesting. I don’t just want to write something that’s catchy, it should still sound good years from now.”
“Just A Guy”