Spotlight of the Week: Jaqui JaFelle

Jaqui JaFelle is a singer-songwriter who’s picked music back up after quite some time away from it. She’s now done three Tiny Desk Contests, one of which raising money for California-based organization Al Otro Lado.

ME: How did you get started with Wisconsin Music Ventures?

JAQUI: It’s kind of a long story so I hope it’s worth it (laughs).

ME: I’m all ears.

JAQUI: It was a serendipitous thing; it all started about five years ago before Wisconsin Music Ventures was even a thing. I started taking voice lessons again and I saw Emily Zimmer’s business card in West End Conservatory, which used to be by my house. She was teaching guitar there and her energy felt important, so I started watching her musical journey. Years later, she posted that she was being featured on this podcast for Wisconsin Music Ventures and I checked it out. At the time, Allison had a Facebook group that was for non-members so I joined that, and just that little bit of community was so invigorating for what I was trying to do. I hadn’t really been involved in the local scene and I was trying to get back into music after a really long break, so it was really cool to be a part of that. One day Allison posted on Facebook about her having a hard week so I sent her a message over Messenger being like “Hey, I’m sorry you’re having a hard week and I’ve just got to tell you how meaningful this community and this podcast is and that I really love what you’re trying to do” and so we exchanged some messages, and then all of a sudden she sent me her calendar and asked to meet further. I wasn’t about to miss that chance (laughs) so we met at her office and then she invited me to join the Backstage Pass. I just celebrated one year of being a member.

ME: Congratulations! Thank you for sharing all of that.

ME: I saw that you’ve done a Tiny Desk Contest. Can you tell me more about that?

JAQUI: Yeah, that was the third one! It was for their concert series that they do every year. The first one I did was in 2020 when the world felt like it was falling apart; I wrote this pandemic song and it was either now or never (laughs). Tiny Desk is also such an amazing community; I love seeing all the other entrants. The second one I did was for a fundraiser from a friend of mine’s organization out in California called Al Otro Lado, and so I used the Tiny Desk platform to amplify that; it was cool because that was the first song I ever wrote in my sleep which has never happened before. I didn’t know how they were going to feel about it at first (laughs) but they ended up loving it and we raised around $300 with it. Hopefully I’ll be releasing that song officially. The last one I did was a song that was more autobiographical called “Hometown Girl” and it’s about living in a town your whole life where you see stuff how it is but also have those memories of what it was.

ME: Yeah, I think about that all the time and it’s kind of surreal. Thank you for sharing all of that!

ME: How do you think you’ve grown as an artist this year?

JAQUI: I’ve always had terrible stage fright and that’s been a focus of mine over quite a few years. At present I don’t have a lot of performing experience so I’ve been trying to push myself to go to Linneman’s Open Mic Night.

ME: Good choice.

JAQUI: Yeah, I’ve also been trying to go to the Friday meetups at No Studios. I really love the caliber of musicians that show up; it’s been such a welcoming place and has really forced me to grow.

ME: Hey, you are always worthy no matter what stage of your career you’re in!

ME: That said, we’re getting into October. What’s a fun fall activity you’re looking forward to doing this year?

JAQUI: We’ve been taking the kids to some pumpkin farms the last couple years. My grandmother’s family actually owns a farm in Illinois – the Richardson Family Farm – and they have the world’s largest corn maze. We’ve been waiting for the kids to be old enough to go (laughs).

ME: I want to go to that!

JAQUI: Yeah, it sounds like a crazy place! I’ve only been to it when they would have these reunions every couple years when my grandma would take us. We’ve been starting with smaller corn mazes; I don’t want to have to carry them out for miles and miles (laughs).

ME: Well, that sounds like a great time. My last question is, what are you working on now?

JAQUI: I am doing a self-study music production class so I’m trying to make myself more versatile working in a professional studio setting while also hoping to be skilled enough to get some music out, just so I can start really testing the waters and see how people respond. My goal is to submit it to sync licensing and do more stuff online. I’m hoping to do a first official single for next year.

ME: Very exciting! I look forward to hearing it!

Visit Jaqui JaFelle’s YouTube channel here.

Here’s the link to the Al Otro Lado fundraiser – AL Otro Lado – Jaqui JaFelle’s NPR Tiny Desk Fundraiser for Al Otro Lado (

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