The first time Jane Kelly Williams heard one of her songs on the radio, she had no one to share the moment with.
“I was totally embarrassed,” the New Jersey-based singer-songwriter said recently. “Here I was driving on the interstate and I wanted to megaphone to everyone, ‘Hey, turn your radio on! They’re playing my song!’ “
They may be listening now. Williams’ major-label debut album, “Tapping the Wheel” (on Parachute/Mercury), is crossing territory charted by the likes of Sheryl Crow and Joan Osborne. What sets her aside from them is a deep spirituality that’s mercifully short on preachiness.
“I’m incredibly inspired by the church,” she said, “but the church I go to is not preachy. With this church, spiritual truths are brought to the forefront through everyday living. Some of the songs, in fact, come from the sermons I’ve heard.”
The Georgia native says she knew from an early age that she was drawn to music.
“Something pulls you and you find yourself doing it,” she said. “I found myself in more musical situations as I got older.”
After graduating from college, she moved to New York to attend the Manhattan School of Music. It was there that she honed her songwriting skills and gradually worked her way on to the club circuit. Her thoughtful and infectious songs (notably “Pizza Man” and the first single, “Show Me How to Catch a Fish”) and an angelic voice led to a deal with Parachute.
“It’s funny how friends always bring it back to you,” she said. “A friend of mine called the other day and she said, ‘You’re doing it.’ And I said, ‘What?’ She said, ‘You wanted your songs on a record so your friends could buy it in the stores.’ And it’s true, my dream has come true.”
Would she like to have a hit record?
“Who wouldn’t,” she said, “but that’s not the goal, not like playing really well and enjoying the music yourself.”
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