She’s got 175,000 montly listeners on Spotify
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Derby musician Jemma Johnson was as shocked as anyone else when she heard her voice on a song which had racked up more than a million plays online. It was a remix of her rendition of Coldplay's 'Hymn for the Weekend', which she'd uploaded to YouTube in 2016.
The former teacher said: "A guy had used my recording, put it on YouTube and it did so well. But I was miffed. He hadn't asked me if he use it! But I got in touch and had a chat with him, and we went to a label and the label released it."
The remix, by producer Izzamuzzic, has now accrued nearly 8 million plays on Spotify in the three years since it was released in 2019. It gave Jemma's music career the extra boost it needed and put her in the public eye for the first time.
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Other producers stepped forward, requesting her voice on their tracks and sending her beats to write over. Now, she's got a steady 175,000 monthly listeners on the streaming platform.
Jemma, 29, subsequently gave up her job as a teacher during the pandemic after her husband persuaded her to pursue music full time. She wants to move away from the perception of herself as a 'cover artist', though; her new single, 'Love Rush' comes out on Friday, October 28.
She said: "I always said when I did YouTube that I don't want to be known as a cover artist. I'm a songwriter and always have been. I wrote my first song when I was 13. My focus is on the originals now. The covers have helped me big time though, to get my name out there and grow a following. So I can't discredit them."
With the latest traction on her releases, she's also playing a headline gig at Dubrek Studios in Derby on Thursday, November 3. It'll be the first time she plays the new song live.
Love Rush is a step away from her usual pop-oriented releases and veers more towards a classic 2000s pop-punk sound, driven by drums. It features one of Ed Sheeran's live touring band, Mark Pusey, on the drumkit, after a hit-and-hope email was received better than Jemma could've ever imagined.
"We just sent him an email and he wrote back asking if he could drum on it. I thought it was a joke at first! He was phenomenal and gave the track its energy and a bit of a different edge."
Currently, the majority of Jemma's income is from playing weddings. She gets paid royalties from the projects she's lent her voice to and her own stuff too, though. The latest release is perhaps her best yet and she's really hopeful about the next steps in her career.
She said: "I'm absolutely buzzing for it. I don't know what happened with this song but I think I just stopped caring as much, in a really good way. I think you can get in your head when you're writing songs, wondering if it's good enough and if people are going to like it. But with this one, from the get-go, I said this is going to be a fun song. I just wanted to enjoy it. Doing the vocals for the first time, I just remember being carefree. I love it.
"Something's just clicked recently. It's just working. I'm really buzzing about the stuff I've got coming out. My original stuff is starting to pay bits and bobs in the bills which is amazing because that's always been my dream really, to live off my music. If I can do that, I've made it."
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