Three Chords and the Truth
Local singer-songwriter Monica Hoelscher lives through music
Wilmington-based singer-songwriter MONICA JANE HOELSCHER has been singing since she could talk. She fell in love with poetry as a little girl, started playing guitar when she was 17, and performed her debut gig at 22 in her hometown of Sturgis, Michigan.
After exploring many musical genres, she has grown into the Americana country-pop musician she is today.
“I like old country music and any good country music. Anyone who has clever lyrics is my kind of singer. I like songs that draw you in with a story or a feeling. Songs that have the power to give you chills the whole way through,” Hoelscher says.
And that’s exactly what her second album, “Wildfire,” released in February 2019, does to anyone who listens.
“One song is about all the places I’ve been in the world and then about the one place I don’t want to go, which is hell,” she says. “Another song is about family and staying true to how you were raised. I live by the old saying ‘all you need are three chords and the truth.’”
Hoelscher was raised with music in her life.
“My sister plays the violin. My brother is a mean guitarist. He’s so smart with music theory. My dad is the biggest influence of our family,” she says. “Before I could talk, I would stand in awe and watch him sing, play piano, and guitar. He’s a songwriter. I get my talent from him. And my mom, she’s my biggest fan.”
Hoelscher’s road to becoming a seasoned singer-songwriter was not an easy one.
“Permanently ingrained in the high school yearbook as most shy, I started performing late in life. I was a closet musician. I was terrified at my first gig,” she says. “I didn’t know how to work the sound equipment and kept getting feedback. It was like Miss America tripping and falling on stage before she got her crown.”
Hoelscher performed on cruise ships for two years. On Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, she was a solo performer provided with her own cabin with a window unlike some of her other gigs where her quarters were windowless shared rooms. “At times, it was gruesome, and I was seasick. And there were so many rules,” she says. But there were great things, too.
“The memories I made along the way made every challenging thing about ship life worth it,” Hoelscher says. “I wouldn’t change it for the world. I cherish the people I met, and I still keep in contact with some of them. I’m so humbled to have had the chance to see the world.”
In 2011, Hoelscher made her way to Wilmington, a town she admired from TV and movies.
“I’m spontaneous, so I grabbed my guitar and took a chance.” She started playing open mics and eventually was offered her first show at Goat & Compass.
In January 2018, Hoelscher flew to Nashville on a whim where she was introduced to record producer and engineer JIM KIMBALL who toured and recorded with Brooks & Dunn; Faith Hill; Tim McGraw; and Kelly Clarkson to name a few, but is best known as Reba McEntire’s guitar player. Kimball also writes music for film and television.
Hoelscher says, “I remember trying to hide my excitement when Jim’s face lit up after hearing one of my songs. My nervous anxious self immediately felt at ease.”
She left Nashville with an agreement with Kimball to get her songs in front of music supervisors who oversee all music-related aspects of film and television.
Hoelscher is also thinking about her next album.
“I’m excited for everyone to hear my progress. My songs aren’t as elementary as when I first started writing. My creativity is more developed. I like writing songs that are organic, that can be broken down to just vocals and guitar, and it sounds complete.”
Hoelscher says her next album, titled “Pandemic,” will share a “little more truth along with a couple of songs with a whole new direction.”
COVID-19 left Hoelscher, like most musicians, anxious and exhausted. She says, “Luckily musicians in this town treat each other as family. It was beautiful to witness the support we have for one another during this time of uncertainty.”
Laughing, she concludes, “If I’m really lucky, Miranda Lambert will call me and ask if she can record my song. We all wish it were that easy. If nothing ever happens with that, at least I can take away the small success I’ve already had. I’m very blessed.”
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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