Sounds like dirt roads and dust, wind and wheat fields, hope and home...
Jessie Veeder has been a symbol of folk music in the badlands of Western North Dakota since she released her first original album, This Road, when she was only sixteen years old. It was an effort that sparked the interest of music enthusiasts and took her from performing at fairs and festivals around her home state to managing a national college and coffeehouse tour and recording her fifth original album in Nashville in 2015.
With unique and interestingly beautiful vocals, Veeder’s lyrics swell with references to her own life experiences growing up on a working cattle ranch in the rugged land of Western North Dakota. Veeder’s ability to captivate audiences with stories of her love for the landscape, the culture and the people of small town America is what pulls at the heartstrings of audiences across the globe and made her original music such a success.
For the small-town singer, who spent years behind the wheel of her Chevy, navigating the highways and interstates from the ranch to Chicago, Fargo to Fort Worth and everywhere in between, it's always been about the stories of the human condition and the isolated landscape of her home.
Jessie's successful career in the music industry started with her singing alongside her folk musician father when she was only ten years old, belting out tunes by Nancy Griffith, EmmyLou Harris, John Prine and Bruce Springsteen, artists who helped hone her love for folk music. And soon she began writing her own, penning and recording her first original album when she was only 16, a body of work that landed her a job traveling the country with a booking agency out of Nashville. From there she recorded her second original album A Place to Belong with the Fargo-based label Barking Dog Records in 2005 before bringing it all home to record and release Jessie Veeder Live in 2010 and then Nothing’s Forever, a 2012 effort that features Jessie’s renowned single Boomtown, an homage to the people working to make a living in oil country and a song that put Veeder in the spotlight as a feature in various news programs and national and international documentaries.
Jessie’s 2015 release, Northern Lights, brought her to Nashville to record with Bill Warner, a producer who has worked with artists such as Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Mindy Smith and Trisha Yearwood, among others. Backed by some of the best players in the industry, Jessie's skill as a heart wrenching songwriter soars in the new songs that remain rooted in the stories of the people and landscape of her home in Western North Dakota. The highly anticipated release is some of Jessie's best work yet.
“It was such an amazing experience to bring the songs I wrote in my living room or while working on the ranch to Nashville to see how they might transform in the hands of some of the best studio players around,” said Veeder of her experience in Music City. “And they just got it. They understood where the music needed to go, respected the stories and made these songs come to life in the most beautiful way.”
The 12 track album blends rootsy instruments, poignant lyrics and powerful melodies rooted in Americana, blues, folk and country influences. But beyond the music it’s Veeder’s story that has gained her a global following. Her popular website “Meanwhile, back at the ranch…” chronicles life on the Veeder Ranch and the success of her website has landed her a job as a weekly columnist for Forum Communications and newspapers across the state and as a commentator on Prairie Public Radio since 2010. In 2015 she released her first book, Coming Home, which is a collection of stories, poetry, recipes and photography from the Veeder Ranch.
Jessie's most current release, Playing Favorites 2020 is a collaborative effort with area musicians covering songs that Jessie grew up singing. This album pays tribute to those songs and songwriters who influenced her, celebrating the traditional songs as well as covering music by John Prine, Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, Kathy Mattea, among others.
Unfortunately, during the recording of "Playing Favorites" Jessie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that resulted in a tumor that was blocking nearly 90% of her airway. This diagnosis sent her to Mayo Clinic for a series of surgeries to remove the tumor and to eventually declare her cancer free. Throughout diagnosis and treatment, Jessie pushed to release the album, which now, more than ever, felt so very important to her.
"On this album you will hear the voices and instruments of my dad and I, of course, but also of our friends who have so often, when we needed them most, pulled up a chair to play along," says Jessie of this recent effort. "This album is for them. And it’s for my daughters, my nieces and my nephews, for my cousins and their kids and you and yours, so that you might find a familiar tune and a place to sing along."
In 2021, inspired by her two young daughters, Edie (now 7) and Rosie (now 5), Jessie dove into uncharted territory and published her first children's book, Prairie Princess, in collaboration with Western North Dakota artist, Daphne JohnsonClark. Prairie Princess is a celebration of rural living and our connection to the land told through the perspective of a young girl inspired by Jessie's magical childhood on her family's ranch in Western North Dakota. The beautifully illustrated book lets a little girl be the expert tour guide and caretaker of the land that she knows so well and reminds us what it's like to be captivated and responsible for a place.
Jessie has been a featured artist at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko Nevada and has been a two-time main stage act Red Ants Pants Music Festival. She is the recent recipient of the Governor's Award for the Arts in Individual Achievement, was named North Dakota's Favorite Folk Artist in 2016 and 2017 and is the recipient of the North Dakota Ambassador Award. Jessie has shared the stage with Dan Seals, Bobby Vee, Black Hawk, Sammy Kershaw, Corb Lund, Joe Diffie, Confederate Railroad, The Wilkensons, Brenn Hill, Martha Scanlan, Keri Noble, Gwen Sebastian and Kat Perkins among others,
“Jessie tells the story of us,” said David Swenson of Makoche Studios out of Bismarck who worked with Jessie to produce her 2012 release Nothing's Forever, an album that he describes as one of the best to come out of their studio. “Jessie is one of the most intuitive and instinctual artists I have ever worked with. She’s prolific. And her songs are great.”
Jessie works from her family's ranch in Western North Dakota with her husband, Chad. She and her husband raise their daughters, cattle and plenty of horses, ponies, dogs and a couple house cats on the 110 year old Veeder homestead. You can hear them chat weekly, along with other characters on the ranch, on their podcast, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch..."
Jessie is available for bookings for festivals, concerts, workshops school visits and more. Along with writing and performing, Jessie works as the director of the Long X Arts Foundation in her hometown, an organization she helped to establish to promote artists and create art experiences in her rural community.
Read about her life on her blog Meanwhile, back at the ranch...