- a note from the artist:
Every so often, a song pours out of a heart (in this case, three hearts) that encapsulates every feeling of a deeply personal experience. It’s unexplainable, unforgettable, and spiritual. That’s what happened the night Jimmy Fortune, Zach Runquist, and I wrote Jealous of the Angels.
When I was only ten years old, my dad was killed in a car accident while driving my brother Jeff and me to school. He was our hero. Music became an outlet to process through the trauma, and songwriting quickly became the therapy. I found a peace, a comfort anytime my fingers danced across the keys, and I poured my emotions into every song I sang.
I didn't speak with a counselor at the time, but had an amazing piano teacher that took this musical expression very seriously and encouraged me to begin composing. Music became my safe place.
In 2008 I followed my dreams all the way to Nashville, and met Zach shortly thereafter. We started writing together, and one day he approached me with the song idea, ‘God must need another angel around the throne tonight,’ wondering if I might find it helpful to write about my experience. I had tried to avoid it in the past, always staying on the surface, but something in my spirit said yes.
On a rainy November evening in 2009, Zach, Jimmy, and I gathered at Jimmy’s Tennessee home. I remember feeling incredibly unprepared and relatively anxious on my way there. I was running a bit early, so I found a parking lot nearby and pulled out my journal. I started writing. I went back to the accident, back to all my feelings of pain, sadness, and anger. While fighting back tears, I filled six pages front and back. I apologetically arrived at Jimmy’s, saying I hadn’t prepared any lyrics, but began reading through the thoughts I had written down only minutes before. There within my scribbled handwriting were the words, ‘I’m just jealous of all the angels who are with my dad now.’ Jimmy stopped me and said, “that’s our song.”
Less than an hour later, the song was written. Tears were flowing and an incredible weight I didn’t realize I had been carrying was lifted off my shoulders. There were no plans to release the song, it was meant to be a therapeutic exercise for me.
About a month later while performing at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, my palms started sweating, my heart raced, and everything within me said, play that song. I barely got through it and after the show a woman approached me and said, “I lost my dad two days ago, and I know you played that song for me tonight.”
In that moment I experienced a shift in my heart. If sharing a song about the worst experience I had ever walked through could somehow bring peace and comfort to others who were mourning, I had a responsibility to share that.
Months later, I filmed a music video for the song in my hometown of Waconia, Minnesota, that included a visit to dad's grave. Six months after the video’s release a woman found the song and sent it to Smooth Radio in the United Kingdom. The song connected like wildfire. It became one of the top ten requested songs for the week, was playlisted on BBC radio, and shortly after I was flying to England to perform on BBC Breakfast Television, after which the song went #1 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart. Since then, I’ve had the privilege and honor of performing it on the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium stage, and at various other radio, television and live venues around the world. Incredible artists in the U.K. and Ireland including Donna Taggart, Katherine Jenkins, and Nathan Carter, have gone on to record stunning versions, reaching more and more people. The song has been used in numerous memorial videos, and covered in hundreds, if not thousands of videos across various social media platforms.
I’ve learned so many things since playing 'Jealous' for the very first time, but one in particular stands out: vulnerability breaks down walls and gives others permission to share their story. I’ve heard firsthand countless stories of how this song has helped people, and I hope it continues to meet people in their journey with grief. I’ve found personal healing in sharing my story and this song, and I am reminded every time I perform it that we do not have to grieve alone.