Jenna Raine first discovered her passion for songwriting after attending a music camp at the age of 13. “I was super fascinated by it,” she tells me between pickleball games with her family back home in Texas. “I had a music instructor and he was already teaching me piano and guitar. I asked him, ‘Can I get a couple songwriting lessons with you?’ At the end of eight weeks, he said, ‘You have to learn how to write by writing 100 songs by yourself.’ I never did it; I was 14 and I was like, ‘That’s a lot of work!’”
But when COVID-19 happened, Jenna suddenly found herself with a lot of free time and naturally, like most of us, she spent a lot of that time on TikTok, where users connected with her hilarious videos.
“People followed me for my relatable girl content and not for music,” she explains. “I was like, ‘I have to let people know that I’m a singer-songwriter.’” And that’s exactly what she did. “For a whole year, I challenged myself to write 100 songs,” she says. “I based a lot of the songs off of what my followers commented, so I learned how to write from other people’s perspectives as well.”
However, it would only take Jenna 37 minutes to write “See You Later (Ten Years),” which was song number 46 of the challenge. “I did a couple TikToks to it myself and they started getting a lot of interaction online,” she says. “And then other people started posting. Every single day there were thousands of videos being posted.”
The success of “See You Later” marked a personal milestone for Jenna. ”I’ve always been a little self-conscious about showing my songwriting to people and releasing music,” she says. “The fact that people with resonated with that song definitely boosted my confidence.” With over 60 million streams to date, it marked a career milestone, too, as she landed a long-coveted record deal with Warner. “I had a completely different plan to go to college and be in a dorm room and take classes and get a degree,” she says. “The fact that this is my job now because of my supporters is absolutely insane.”
Throughout our chat, Jenna expresses her gratitude for those supporters. “They’ve changed my life completely,” she says. “When I tell you they made my dreams come true, they had a complete effect on what was going to happen in my future.” They’ll also have an effect on her upcoming music. “I’m basing the songs that I’m going to release this summer off of what reacts on TikTok,” she smiles. “So if people are following me and commenting and telling me what songs they like, they’ll literally have a say on what song comes out next!”
And Jenna has advice for any other aspiring songwriters out there. “You just have to believe in yourself before anybody else believes in you,” she says. “Trust in your talent and trust in your creativity. It’s really hard when you kind of feel embarrassed to put yourself out there, but I promise it won’t be embarrassing as soon as you find just a tiny bit of success. Chase the dream that you know is going to make you happy.”
Listen to Jenna’s latest single, “Not Again” below!
Photos by Caity Krone