Jen Ledger of Skillet: ‘The Power of Music is Overwhelming’ – Interview

2018-04-11

Story by Anne Erickson

Skillet drummer Jen Ledger and Anne Erickson chat about music, faith and more

On “Ledger,” the debut EP from Jen Ledger of Skillet, Jen completes the journey she began when she started drumming with Skillet a decade ago, now stepping out on her own with a triumphant solo set. Beautifully written and performed, ‘Ledger’ offers anthemic rock with an underlying message of hope and strength, all spearheaded by Jen Ledger’s solid songwriting and vocal abilities.

So, what does it feel like to step out on her own and craft her own music on “Ledger?” Jen spoke with Anne Erickson from Audio Ink about her journey into singing, why she’s excited to release “Ledger” and how her faith and Christianity plays into her music. “Ledger” is out Friday (April 13). Listen to a podcast of the interview with Jen on iTunes here, and subscribe for more music interviews.

Anne Erickson: Congratulations on releasing your debut solo EP. A lot of people know you from drumming in Skillet, but tell me about your journey into singing.

Jen Ledger: Thank you! I am super excited. When you’ve been working towards something for years, it’s kind of bizarre to have it finally out. I’ve been drumming with Skillet for 10 years, and I didn’t really think singing was ever in the cards for me. It was about one year being into Skillet that Korey Cooper from Skillet was unavailable for a demo, so John Cooper (frontman for Skillet) had me fill in and sing the song “Hero” for the demo. We went in to do the recording, and he was like, “You sound pretty good on this.” It wasn’t until later that year that they ended up using my voice for the actual song, and I didn’t ever really think that was going to happen. After we were done recording the vocals, they were like, “You know you’re going to have to learn to play the drums and sing this at the same time,” and I was like, “Oh, no!” (Laughs)

When did you make the leap to writing your own solo music?

It was six years ago when I felt drawn to write my own songs and start expressing myself that way, and I’ve kind of been under an apprenticeship with the Coopers. They’re really taken me under their wings and have been training me and teaching me how to write, so it’s been a six-year journey now. It’s been such a journey, because to start, I can’t believe I’ve gotten to play drums in a band for 10 years. Now I’ve got my own project coming out, and it’s kind of overwhelming! (Laughs)

What’s the most exciting thing about finally getting your solo songs out there?

The most exciting thing is… I don’t even know what to say! (Laughs) The whole thing feels incredibly exciting. I guess the main thing would be that it kind of feels like a dream. It’s something I’ve dreamed about for years. I thought, “Maybe one day, I can have my own songs out there.” Because I’ve played with Skillet for 10 years all over the world, I’ve had the honor of seeing how powerful music can be. It’s been really heartwarming to speak to people, and they say, “This song saved my life. I was going to kill myself.” Or, “This song helped me get over my addiction with drums.” Seeing the power of music is really overwhelming. So the idea that I’d be able to write my own songs and they have messages in them that I hope can empower people to not give up, it feels surreal and a lot like a dream coming true.

I know faith is a big part of Skillet. How does your faith and Christianity play into your solo music?

My faith plays the hugest role in this. Not really that I want to preach to people and say, “You have to be like me”– that is not my goal at all. But for me, I grew up in a very empty, religious upbringing, and it made me want nothing to do with Christianity. I saw a lot of hypocrisy, and a lot of it was about how you looked and what you did and how you dressed, and it was nothing about the heart. I just really wanted nothing to do with it. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old that I got serious about my faith, and it was because I met people, and I had an encounter where it was like, “Oh my gosh. If this is real and I ignore all the religious side of things and just actually focus on who Jesus is and focus on the fact that God is real and here and might want to speak to me,” it changed who I was. It’s all to me wrapped up together, music being such an incredibly powerful tool that can bring hope to people. I forget how powerful it is until I meet people and see it transform them or save them.

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