Jenn Bostic: From Waconia to Nashville

Waconia’s Jenn Bostic connects with audiences worldwide.
Waconia’s Jenn Bostic relocated to Nashville for her music. Inset: Bostic performing at the IceHouse in Minneapolis.

One can imagine no other career path for Jenn Bostic than the one she chose. Born into a musical family, Bostic moved to Waconia with her father, James; mother, Barbara; and older brother, Jeff, when she was a year old. Early on, music became a part of everyday life. From country to blues, pop to standards, Bostic embraced it all. Initially a shy child, she explored her own vocal abilities with the encouragement of her musician father during nightly family sing-a-longs—never expecting that one day those cozy nights would lead to record deals and tours.

Tragically, Bostic’s musical collaboration with her father was cut short. James was killed in a car accident while driving 10-year-old Jenn and her brother to school. “After losing my dad, I didn’t want to talk about it,” Bostic says. “So I started writing and performing music. It was very therapeutic. It was the outlet I had for losing him. He was the one to encourage us, and sing along after dinner, and music was the one way I could still connect.”

She believes the death of her father was the impetus for pursuing her future career at such an early age. As she made her way through middle school, Bostic found her own voice. “I was given my first solo and began gaining more confidence,” she says. “I was so passionate about entertaining; so when I finally did come out of my shell, my poor Mom had to sit through homemade musicals my friends and I would perform for her.”

In high school, Bostic continued singing in musical theater and show choir. Her lyricism caught the attention of respected local roots ensemble, Traveled Ground. James Bostic had played accordion with the group when she was younger. But at the age of 16, during a show choir concert, it was the younger Bostic’s turn to shine. “She just stood out,” remembers singer-songwriter Clark Machtemes, leader of Traveled Ground. “Even though she was young, I thought ‘she would sound really good on a CD. She could really do something.’ And we asked her to come into the studio, so she got some early studio experience.”

Bostic followed her dream to Berklee College of Music in Boston. While she admits she was “not yet confident enough” to pursue a degree in music performance, she auditioned for a major show, and as a sophomore was one of only 10 vocalists chosen. “It completely shocked me and helped me realize, ‘Maybe I could do this,’” she says.

Following college, she returned to Waconia for a brief respite, reconnecting for gigs with Traveled Ground before moving to Nashville. And like many other independent singer-songwriters, she took odd jobs to make ends meet. “I was a substitute teacher, I taught line dance, and did everything to pay the bills while I focused on writing in my spare time,” she says.

In her first year in Nashville, Bostic accumulated enough material to record her debut album, and began a coffee house tour in Minnesota and Wisconsin where she already had a following.

Her second album included “Jealous of the Angels,” a song written about her dad. A fan sent the song to Smooth Radio in the United Kingdom, where soon it became one of the top 10 requested songs. “I was invited on BBC Breakfast to play it live, and that day it went number one in the U.K.,” Bostic says. “It was surreal how fast everything happened.”

With her third album, Faithful, released—and numerous tours on the horizon—Bostic savors family time with husband Michael Ernst and their new puppy Kyak, and return visits to her hometown. She continues connecting with audiences by sharing her life experiences, just as she did in her youth. “It’s all part of my story,” she says. “To be able to channel it into something that has helped people around the world is pretty crazy.”

Jenn Bostic performs from 7-9 p.m. Dec. 17 at Schram Vineyards in Waconia. Visit the website here for details about this show and other upcoming gigs.