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She’s banking on hitting the heights

Jodi V turns heartbreak into art by ‘doing music that’s kind of inspirational’

By George Varga

October 26, 2008

Getting her heart broken for the first time at the age of 18 was a wrenching experience for Jodi V. It was also the best thing that ever happened to her, musically speaking.

“I actually remember the night that this little punk hurt me,” she said of her former boyfriend. “I went right in the house and wrote a poem in my diary, then I wrote the song ‘Breaking Down.’ ”

Now 22, V ultimately reaped an even richer artistic harvest from her heartbreak, which took place during her senior year at Point Loma High School.

“I ended up with 20 songs about that relationship over the next four years, but I try not to think about it,” said the budding San Diego troubadour, who does not use her last name, Villanueva, professionally. “You definitely have to have your heart broken at least once. It opens your eyes to so many things and you’re not as naive.”

Three of those 20 songs are on “Seed of Love,” her recent debut album, which was released by Rotation Music, a Laguna Beach-based indie label, and is being distributed nationally by Universal Music Group.

An ear-friendly mix of sleek R&B balladry and snappy hip-hop beats, the album features her autobiographical lyrics of love won and lost, along with messages of self-empowerment that she has targeted specifically at other young women.

“It’s funny, because I write love songs; they’re just not happy love songs,” she said. “I’ve never written a happy love song until a week ago – and I’m not even in love. That’s how good I’m getting.”

She giggled. “Just kidding.”

 By day, V oversees loans and new accounts as a banker for Wells Fargo. At night and on weekends, she devotes herself to her music.

“It is a double life, like night and day,” she said. “I try to write a complete song at least once every two weeks. People always say I look different at work than I do on my album cover, but I’m at work!”

Having come directly from the bank for an interview one recent evening, V appeared nothing like she does on her album cover.

Her hair was pulled back tightly and she was dressed in an almost knee-length skirt and a long-sleeved blouse, buttoned up to her neck. Her conservative appearance gave little indication of her sultry stage persona, but it did allude to the more than a decade she spent singing in choirs at various San Diego churches before she graduated from high school in 2004.

“I started singing gospel, then I joined the worship team at New Covenant Church in National City,” said V, who also sang in Amplify, a Christian rock band.

“Amplify had electric guitars and some of the singers had raspy voices, but – lyrically – it was definitely all inspirational. I always had a desire to write my own music and talk about different (secular) things, but growing up in a Christian house, it was tough.”

V, who lives with her mother, Jeannine Garcia, cites Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé and Pepe Aguilar among her favorite artists. She credits her father, Los Nopales band singer-songwriter Fausto Villanueva, as her first musical mentor.

V made her public debut at John D. Spreckels Elementary School singing one of his original compositions, “Mi mamacita,” which V performed with her guitar-playing dad and her classmate, Pearl Ayon (who, coincidentally, is now another of San Diego’s more promising young Latina R&B singers).

“My dad always told me: ‘¡echale ganas!’ Give it your all – let it out,” V said.

She does exactly that on her album, although she acknowledges that one of her songs, “Crazy B,” probably won’t sit well with her former church pastors.

“I tell people to listen to the lyrics,” said V, who also included a sanitized alternate version, “Crazy Chick,” for younger listeners. “I’m not calling myself a ‘crazy bitch.’ It’s what somebody else is calling me and I’m just defending myself. I had to be real. Once people listen to the song, they get it.

“Most of my songs have a positive message and you’ll hear references to God here and there. So, I went from being very religious to doing music that’s kind of inspirational. Only recently have I gone more commercial and hit different topics, just to give it a shot. My mom’s learned to accept it.”

And what of V’s heartbreaking ex-boyfriend? Has she thanked him for inspiring so many of her unhappy love songs?

“We don’t talk right now,” she said, smiling. “But when I first let him listen to the album, he said: ‘I don’t like these sad songs.’ I told him: ‘Thank you, I’ll send you a check in the mail.’ ”


October 26, 2008 - Posted by | MUSIC | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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