Jennifer Niceley, 35, Farmer, Writer, Musician

Where are you from?

I was born and raised on a farm in Jefferson County. It was a dairy farm when I was a kid, now it's in transition—beef cattle, equestrian activities, and organic crops. I actually still live there with my family. It's very communal living. I've been back here for two years.

Where else have you lived?

Wales, to study abroad, Nashville for more school, Charleston, S.C., Santa Fe, Brooklyn, and then Nashville again to work on music.

When did you start playing music?

At age 11, my father gave me a guitar. He encouraged myself and my sisters to sing at all times. I suppose the guitar just became a vehicle for my artistry and passions. I also started writing poetry when I was very young. I didn't even realize what I was doing was poetry. My mother had Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon. I loved how her lyrics were written out in her handwriting. I realized that this is poetry. She is a woman, and what she wrote about is very personal. I realized that I could write my own songs, too. It kept me moving through those hard high-school years. My songs transcend in some ways that once they are done, I don't even realize how they came together. I can almost remove myself from the writing process.

Do you play many shows now?

When I got back into town I played Tennessee Shines and a couple of things at the Bijou, but it was just after a really bad break-up. I felt paralyzed. I didn't have a band anymore and hadn't recentered artistically. Now I have Bob Deck playing with me. He's an amazing guitarist and very supportive. I also have Scott Minor helping creatively produce my new EP.

After your break-up, how did you get your rhythm back?

I could easily have become a recluse and lived only on the farm. But I just realized one day that I wasn't happy without playing and singing for people. I have to get back out and play more shows.

How do you describe your style?

It's not something I actually think about too much. I've definitely never talked about it. But I guess I've always been very into fashion. As a kid I had those "fashion plates." I've been thrifting since my early teens. I loved the AMVETS on Magnolia back then. It's still a great place. I love Hot Horse as well. I was always inspired by photographs of people from the past. As I child, I always thought everyone looked cooler in the past. People like Annie Oakley and Lauren Bacall. The frontierswoman/cowgirl look was one of my first inspirations as well. It still is. I am blessed to have my family. I have wonderfully eccentric aunts that throw nothing away! Beautiful things from the '20s to the '70s have ended up in my hands. They have contributed many great hats, too. Oh, how I love hats!

Worn Clothing

Jewelry: New Mexico and Colorado, years ago

Shirt: Antique mall in Nashville, $10, three years ago

Skirt: American Apparel, $28, three years ago

Shirt: T.J. Maxx, $10, last summer

Belt: My Aunt Rhetzie, free

Boots: Boot Country in Nashville, $150, three years ago


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