JPR Live Session: Jessica Lea Mayfield

Feb 19, 2016

Jessica Lea Mayfield is a 26 year old guitarist, singer and songwriter who was born in Kent, Ohio. She grew up touring with her family's Newgrass/Bluegrass band "One Way Rider" and at the age of 8 years old, they relocated to Nashville, where when they weren't touring regionally they played 4 shows a day, 7 days a week. They lived and traveled on a 1956 tour bus that had once been owned by Bill Monroe that he had christened as the "Bluegrass Breakdown."

Mayfield credits her joining of "One Way Rider" and her interest in music to discovering her favorite bands by watching music videos on MTV and VH-1 in the late 90s. "After seeing the video for the Foo Fighters, 'My Hero,' I can remember, even at age 6 or 7 thinking...THIS, this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life!"

At age 15, she recorded her first album White Lies in her brother's bedroom, printing only 100 copies. One of those copies fell into the hands of Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. After an introduction, Mayfield and Auerbach hit the studio, recording her debut album With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt. Released in September 2008 by Polymer Sounds, the album was a critical success. Mayfield supported its release by going on tour, serving as an opening act for bands like the Avett Brothers, Cake, Lucero, and the Black Keys. Mayfield's touring commitments stretched into 2009, when she opened 11 concerts for Ray Lamontagne and performed at the annual Bonnaroo Festival that summer.

Continuing her association with Dan Auerbach, she also appeared on the frontman's first solo record, Keep It Hid, and enlisted his help in recording her second album Tell Me, which doubled as her first release for Nonesuch Records and was released in early 2011. Mayfield's follow-up, Make My Head Sing, was a complete musical switch. Recorded at Nashville's Club Roar Studio with drummer/engineer Matt Martin and co-produced by husband Jesse Newport, the album is a scorching, electric rock & roll set. She's also released a softer album of Elliot Smith covers with Seth Avett from the Avett Brothers.