Country music stars can be made in Muskoka. Shania Twain kickstarted her career at Deerhurst Resort in the 1980s and is still spotted visiting Lake of Bays in summer. Fast forward 30-plus years, we’ve got another singer/songwriter building a career in Nashville: Jaclyn Kenyon. The Burlington native summered at a Rosseau family cottage as a kid and now splits her time between Nashville and L.A. She began her career at age 12 performing in Toronto’s Honey Jam, and has since launched several singles, including When We Love (2018) and Daddy’s got a Shotgun (2019). In late June, MuskokaStyle spotted Kenyon back at the lake filming video for her latest single, C’est La Vie. She was also busy launching Rock Your Dock, a live music series playing at private docks throughout cottage country during the pandemic. Yes, she’s a busy woman. But on the day we caught up with her, Jaclyn was relaxed and enjoying the sunshine, pausing to answer our questions about songwriting, making music, and loving Muskoka.
MuskokaStyle: It’s so fun to have you here in Muskoka. What brings you back?
Jaclyn: I’ve been coming up to Muskoka since I was a little girl, my family had a cottage in Rosseau for many years. It has always had a very special place in my heart, I grew up here and it feels like home to me. I try to come back every summer to just relax and enjoy the atmosphere here. There really is no place like Muskoka.
MuskokaStyle: Tell us about your new video. Why Muskoka? Where’s it set?
Jaclyn: The music video is for my new single called C’est La Vie. I wanted to film it in Muskoka because the lifestyle matched the vibe of the song perfectly. Muskoka is truly one of those places for me where I can relax , let my hair go crazy , wear no makeup , and not sweat the small stuff. I feel like I connect with myself and reset here. I wanted to be real with the people who follow me and my music and let them in on where and what that looks like for me.
MuskokaStyle: C’est La Vie is your latest single, what’s it about?
Jaclyn: It’s all about enjoying life and not letting the bad get to you. So many times we sweat the small stuff and worry so much that we don’t truly enjoy life. I wanted this song to be a reminder that life is too short to be worried and stressed out and we need to take a step back and enjoy the beauty around us.
MuskokaStyle: As a songwriter, how do your songs come to you?
Jaclyn: They always come differently, I think that’s what makes them so special. There is no set way or formula to how I write. Sometimes it is just me playing on my guitar and I hear a sound I like and I make a chord progression and go off that. Other times I am inspired by a situation I am going through, or someone I know is going through, and I write about it. Or sometimes I just start with a title. It really is all over the place, but it always comes to me differently and it’s like magic how it all comes together. It’s my favourite process. It still blows me away to this day how a song gets born. From writing it in a room to recording it, to releasing it and playing it live on stage. It’s amazing.
MuskokaStyle: What do you love about this place?
Jaclyn: Lake Rosseau will always have my heart. I caught my first fish here! I’d go in the bay with my cousins for a swim and go tubing in the boat. My favourite part was getting in the boat with the family and driving to get ice cream across the lake. The Rosseau General store is one of my favourite places—they have the best butter tarts in town! My favourite restaurants are CrossRoads and Memories Of Muskoka. I absolutely LOVE the farmers market in the summer; I love walking around, listening to live music and seeing all the cute pop-up shops!
MuskokaStyle: Shania Twain is an inspiration to you and she loves Muskoka, too. You started like she did, playing bars, writing songs, and winning major music competitions at a young age. Have you met?
Jaclyn: Shania Twain is a huge inspiration to me. I relate to her a lot. We both grew up in Ontario and I started my career very similar to how she started hers—playing live shows anywhere she could and singing in restaurants and bars. Twain started playing guitar and songwriting at very young age as well. I would listen to her records, dance, put on concerts for my family. I loved how unique her sound was. I grew up listening to ‘80s rock from my parents, and I’ve always loved music that has an edgy sound. Shania inspired me because she was doing something so unique and different in country music. I wanted to find my unique sound as well and push boundaries with music. Unfortunately I have never met Shania but I do feel closeish. My old drummer, Elijah Wood, now plays drums for her full time. Pretty surreal! We’ve been in the same building but haven’t had the chance to meet. Hopefully soon!
MuskokaStyle: How are you coping with not being able to perform during the pandemic?
Jaclyn: It’s been a very strange year for everyone. Normally, I would be traveling lots but because of Covid it has been very unpredictable and my daily routine looks a lot different than normal. I am fortunate for the couple months of quarantine though because it has allowed me to realize how much music work I can do from home. Sending vocals from my computer instead of going to the recording studio is now a new normal and I love it! I’ve also been writing a ton with writers over Skype and it honestly doesn’t feel that much different. It’s amazing how you adjust when you have to. It’s really opened my eyes to know that I can do majority of my career from the comfort of my home.
MuskokaStyle: What’s on your schedule in the coming months?
Jaclyn: I’m going to have a new single come out every month! I’m very excited about this. We’ve planned it so that we’ll release all the way into December. I also have a radio campaign running from now until the end of the year which I’m very excited about! I can’t wait to see how these songs resonate with the listeners. I am going to try and do as much at home as I can until things start opening back up. I’m also hoping that live venues will be opening up again soon so I can get back on stage. I miss playing live so much – I feel like a piece of me is missing. Here in Muskoka we’re doing Rock Your Dock, a live music series in which we’ll arrive at cottagers’ docks and play music for them. We’re taking bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org