1. 'Voice' Alum Jacquie Lee Talks Upcoming EP & How New Song 'For You' Is 'A Letter I Wrote To Myself': Premiere

'Voice' Alum Jacquie Lee Talks Upcoming EP & How New Song 'For You' Is 'A Letter I Wrote To Myself': Premiere

'Voice' Alum Jacquie Lee Talks Upcoming EP & How New Song 'For You' Is 'A Letter I Wrote To Myself': Premiere

Jacquie Lee proved that she has chops four years ago when she competed on Season 5 of The Voice in 2013 — taking runner-up to Tessanne Chin — but come 2017, she’s ready to show the world that she’s also a songwriter. Being so young when she created and released The Broken Ones EP in 2014, Lee admits that it was hard to break through the barriers of being a young artist who was contractually obligated to a TV show.

“That whole time period was stressful, just because nobody really believed in me as a writer. I didn’t even believe in myself as a writer,” Lee tells Billboard. "It took me a second after the show to kind of reflect on everything and be honest with myself about what I wanted. Kind of just be like, ‘Fuck what everyone thinks I should be or wants me to be, or how they can make the most money,' and get myself out of that environment. Putting [myself] into a place of what I want, and what’s true to me.”

In the time since her debut release, Lee, now 20 and an independent artist, has not only honed in on her skills as a writer, but also who she is and who she wants to be. A major part of that self-discovery process involved a move to Los Angeles, which she and fellow former Voice contestant Caroline Pennell decided to do about a year and a half ago.

But while the move has been essential to her next set of music -- a trio of singles and an EP coming later this fall -- Lee (who now goes by only Jacquie) admits that it wasn’t everything she thought it’d be, at least initially. She’d recently broken up her boyfriend of two years, and being from New Jersey, she was moving nearly 3,000 miles away from home. 

“It was a lot of change,” she says. "It was a reality check in so many ways but also inspiring in a lot of other ways. I mean, this whole EP is inspired from change and the move, and not sugarcoating any of the feelings that I went through -- which is so refreshing, because in the past it was a lot more censored."

Lee's first release from her next project was a single called “Am I the Only One,” which came in July, and what she says was "me and my state of anxiety of, 'I love music, is this my future?’” as she was yearning to leave her record label at the time. She followed that up with “California Dreamin’” in August, which is the tale of her big move to L.A., “part two of the journey.”

Today (Oct. 12), Lee unveils part three of the story, “For You,” premiering on Billboard.

Although the title may insinuate that she’s singing to someone else, Lee says that the song is actually what she needed to tell herself upon arriving in LA, figuring out who she is, and documenting it all in her journal. 

"'For You' is kind of just a letter that I wrote to myself,” she explains. "I do keep journaling, no matter how bad it gets, or whatever state of mind I’m in. Journaling has always been something that’s helped me get out of it. So that’s where all my lyrics come from. 'What are you going through?' It’s such a freeing kind of experience that’s way more therapeutic if it’s just you, your life." 

She continues about the song’s inspiration, "I was just trying to, I guess, shake myself and be like, ‘Jacquie, what the fuck are you doing?’ I was partying a lot and trying to distract myself... That was the moment I realized that you can’t rely on anyone else to be a rock for you. You need to be that person for yourself. Life’s gonna throw so much shit at you. That’s unavoidable, but you’ve gotta hang in there.”

Funny enough, her Voice coach, Christina Aguilera -- who she still sees from time to time in L.A. and jokingly refers to as her “fairy godmother” -- was the one who advised she pick up a journal and write everything down, even gifting Lee a journal before the Season 5 finale. "[She said], ‘I don’t care where life takes you, but no matter what you do, write it all down,'" Lee recalls. "'That will help you no matter where you go. You’re gonna look back and realize shit about yourself.’"

Another Christina from whom she’s taken advice to heart is the late Christina Grimmie, as the two became close on The Voice Tour in 2014: "She was just like, ‘Yeah, Jac, no matter what, just stay true to who you are, because nobody knows who you are better than yourself.’”

That’s exactly what Lee has done with her latest work, which she’s excited to share with fans in full thanks to the confidence in both her sound and her personality -- even if she’s still not quite sure about where life is going to take her.

"'Running from your heavier problems’ [a line from “For You”], that is something that is a habit for me. And I don’t even realize that I run from my problems, and I suppress them, and so it all comes crashing down. And I make an EP about it,” she laughs. “But I’ve realized that it is OK to be anxious or feel lost in life. All of that is normal, and you’ll get through it. My music, at least this EP, is kind of a journey from start to finish of the realization of that."