Holler Country Music

Video Premiere: Jenna Paulette - 'The Girl I Was'

May 9, 2023 10:31 am GMT
Last Edited May 18, 2023 9:32 am GMT

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“Some of the best cowboys are cowgirls,” as the old saying goes, and Jenna Paulette is the living, singing, ropin’ and ridin’ proof of that.

She’s a genuine 100% bona fide cowgirl who knows all too well the gritty realities of ranch life and who wears her hat for more than just nights out on Broadway. Originally from Lewisville, Texas, she came of age moving cattle on her family’s ranch in Thackerville, Oklahoma, where she found her voice singing in church or during long, hot summers spent roaming the ranch’s vast expanses.

“Ranching alongside my granddad and uncle taught me to rise to the occasion, they always expected me to be able to get the job done,” Paulette says. “My most vivid memories of knowing I wanted to make country music for a living was out moving cattle with my granddad. He had a George Strait Greatest Hits CD in his truck, and those were the songs I sang on the back of a steaming hot four-wheeler.”

It’s that way of life and cowgirl state of mind that she infuses her songs with, combining a rugged individualism with a free-spirited strength and a down-home gentleness that comes from knowing exactly where you’re from and being damn proud of it.

Jenna Paulette takes the sophisticated countrypolitan and understated stoicism of Carly Pearce’s 29: Written in Stone and mixes it up with the tough-as-nails twang of Miranda Lambert to create something that feels uniquely hers.

The title track to her latest album, The Girl I Was, feels like an especially personal look back on her life growing up, as she emerges on the other side of a toxic 10-year relationship stronger than ever and rediscovering the joy of just being the person she used to be before it. You don’t have to be a cowgirl to know exactly how that feels - it’s a song that will resonate with anyone who’s ever lost themselves in a relationship and fought hard to get out and find their way back to being them.

“I’m finally looking in the mirror and seeing that me I love,” she sings. “I can’t believe I ever thought she wasn’t good enough / I’m getting back to the girl I was.”

Directed by Wes Walker, the video is a poignant depiction of what that feels like, which shows Paulette travelling back home to her family ranch in Thackerville to reconnect with herself and look back on her younger days.

“This video is special because it was shot on the ranch that made me the woman I am today,” explained Paulette. “It’s where I learned who I was and what I am made of. It’s the first place I felt proud of myself and grounded. My dad teared up watching it because Grace, the little girl that played ‘The Girl I Was’ at 8, looked so much like me as a little girl. My mom was in it too, and so much of my relationship with her and my family has been restored because of getting back to myself.”

Holler Country Music

Photo by Wes Walker

“We looked at pictures of me and notes I left my grandaddy in the bunk house at the Front Porch Cafe. It’s where we went to eat a lot after working cattle. Lori, the woman that owns it, opened it up just for us on a Saturday. She remembered my Grandad’s order. That’s a small town for you.”

“The day we shot that video was a day of remembering for me,” she told us. “It was so sweet watching Grace run around there, and to drive the two-lane that leads to the ranch and see the hay barn peek out from behind the pecan trees in the front pasture on the left. This video will always be a cornerstone to remember to never leave that girl in the dust again.”

The video for ‘The Girl I Was’ is premiering exclusively on Holler below.

After leaving the ranch and studying at Savannah College of Art and Design, Jenna Paulette settled in Nashville in 2015, where she struck up a mentorship with Ashley Gorley – the legendary songwriter with over 50 No.1 songs under his belt - which ultimately led to her publishing deal with Sea Gayle Music in June 2021. Since then Paulette has collaborated with songwriters like Will Bundy, Ashley McBryde, Rhett Akins and Jessie Jo Dillion, as well as opening for Mason Ramsey, Parmalee, John Michael Montgomery, Clay Walker and most recently Aaron Watson.

Her debut album, The Girl I Was, is available now on Grit Brand Entertainment.

Written by Jof Owen
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