When Jessica Willis Fisher released her debut solo album, “Brand New Day” this past April, she was letting the world know that she would no longer be tied to the shackles that playing with her family band created.
“I didn’t have a choice for the ways this was made my career when I was younger; I started performing with my family when I was a teen, and there were a lot of exciting things about that,” she said. “But I’m being pretty open on what I went through and talk about all parts of my story.”
Come November, Fisher will release her memoir, “Unspeakable: Surviving My Childhood and Finding My Voice,” which details her abusive upbringing as she was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household and groomed to perform under her stern father’s watchful eyes.
The book talks about her journey as the lead singer of the family’s band, The Willis Clan, and how it rose to fame after appearing on “America’s Got Talent” and how as the eldest of 12 children, she knew she needed to speak the truth of what really was happening.
“My dad was abusive for as early as I can remember, so even through all the lovely things—and music is a lovely thing—at the end of the day I needed to get out of the situation I was in,” Fisher said. “That meant stepping away from music for a time. I did a lot of therapy and reexamination. I knew if I came back to music, it needed to be healthy and honest and something that would be part of a much healthier life as a whole.”
She established The Brand New Day Fund to support a variety of organizations and causes close to her heart—especially the prevention of childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence, and facilitating cooperation between advocates, lawmakers, law enforcement, and victims.
Fisher believes strongly in the healing power of music and hopes others can find the strength they need to rise above their past traumatic experiences to build safe, healthy lives for themselves.
Fisher will be headed to Jammin Java on Sept. 14 in support of her new album and powerful message.
“I’m going to be sharing tracks from my album; I’m a fiddle player from my childhood, and a singer/songwriter, so I’ll be doing all those things and maybe sharing a few of my earlier musical inspirations,” she said. “This is a really personal album to me, and every song is something that I’ve lived through, so to be able to share it with people live isn’t something that I have done too much of, so it’s exciting to me.”
Now, that she’s back singing, she would love to continue making music for the rest of her life and is grateful that she made the decisions that she did.
“It was a struggle to get this album out into the world, but it’s been so worth it for me, and I’m hoping it can do good in the world,” Fisher said.
Although she hasn’t played Jammin Java in the past, she’s heard great things about the space from musical friends and is excited to add the venue to her resume.
“I always appreciate when people are there to have a good time and to listen, and really hear music,” Fisher said. “I feel that’s when I come alive as a performer. It’s not so much about being in these high-energy places; it’s about telling stories and knowing that someone’s listening. That brings out the magic in art itself for me.”
The night after the Vienna show, Fisher will head for a big festival in Nashville, and the rest of 2022 is flush with concert dates, though she also is planning time to talk about the book once it’s released later this year.
“The album and the book both do a complementary but different approach of telling my story in unique ways,” Fisher said. “I’m going into the studio to work on the audiobook this week, so I’m staying busy, and that’s keeping me in a very strong creative power. I really need both of these things out in the world.”