Jessica Lea Mayfield

Kent, OH

Jessica Lea Mayfield has a back-story that Hollywood couldn’t have conceived. Playing in the family Bluegrass band at 8, writing songs at 11, open mics and solo gigs at 13, debut EP at 15. Enter the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who hears about Mayfield through his dad and invites Mayfield to record and hang at his Akron studio. As a result, Mayfield sings on the Keys’ Attack and Release album, records her official debut album, 2008’s With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, winds up opening for the Keys and Avett Brothers and makes people crazy with her blend of Bluegrass and the Blues. And all of this before her 21st birthday, which was last month. Considering her résumé so far, Mayfield’s encore should be pretty astounding.

You’ll Dig It If You Dig: Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch backpack through Appalachia and sing for their suppers. (Brian Baker)

 

"Mayfield has such skill in her songwriting craft at such a frighteningly young age that it’s all the more remarkable – the pace and the voice and the tone of her words, like a forest whispering throughout the night – that she already can make unforgettable music seem so easy." - Daytrotter

The 19-year old from Kent, Ohio first performed with her family band One Way Rider at the age of eight. At age 15, she recorded her first album "White Lies" in her brother's bedroom, printing only 100 copies. One of those copies fell into the hands of Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. After an introduction, Mayfield and Auerbach hit the studio, laying the foundation of her debut album "With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt."

The album was produced by Auerbach and recorded over a two-year span in his home studio in Akron. "With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt" features Mayfield on acoustic guitar and vocals, Auerbach on a variety of instrumentation and Mayfield’s brother (David) on upright bass. Dr. Dog’s Scott McMicken and Frank McElroy provide vocal harmonies on the track “I’m Not Lonely Anymore.” Says Auerbach of the recording experience, “I think she’s dark and moody in a mysterious way, not unlike Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.” He adds, “I’m just always really excited to make music with her.”

In 2007, Mayfield lent her voice to the track “Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be” on The Black Keys’ album, Attack & Release, making her the first guest vocalist to appear on any record released by The Black Keys. Jessica has also opened up a number of shows for folk rock sensations The Avett Brothers, who have recorded a video of her song “For Today”.