Olivia Jo is a versatile singer-songwriter whose roots lie in bluegrass and acoustic music, but have expanded into other genres. Her heartfelt lyrics—often derived from personal life experiences—and passionate vocals coincide to create an honest delivery. Olivia Jo’s 2015 country album, “Something Real Good", showcases her diverse songwriting abilities with 10 of her original songs, including the title track “Something Real Good,” a feel-good, bluesy number. In the following years, the artist released a few other country singles after releasing her country album that she wrote as well, continuing to explore the art of songwriting. However, Olivia Jo recently decided to take her career on a different, yet familiar path, where her love for music began.
Based in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the small town of Stuart, Virginia, an area rich in bluegrass tradition, Olivia got her start in bluegrass at a very young age. She began singing basically when she could talk and learning guitar from her dad at age six. The first song he taught her to sing and play was Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky", which opened the door to the music that would shape her entire life. A few years later, she started playing local venues and festivals in her surrounding areas at the age of nine where she began to establish a name for herself. She recorded two bluegrass albums by the time she was 12 years old with which she enjoyed moderate success and gained exposure in radio and television. At 13, she was one of the featured female artists for a PBS television documentary called, “Women in the Arts”. By 16, she had made her way to Nashville and transitioned into the country music scene. Since then, she has focused on honing her vocal ability and songwriting craft, recorded and shared the stage with numerous musicians, groups and artists in country music and other genres, as well as co-written with prominent Nashville songwriter, Larry Cordle, who she says has become “an incredible influence, mentor, and friend.”
When talking about what music means to her, Olivia Jo explains, “Music has been my friend when no one else was. It leaves you with a feeling of sublime peace when you hear the perfect song that just speaks to you… it truly heals the soul. That is part of what inspires me the most as a singer and songwriter: to create songs that help people to feel and heal, while also giving myself an avenue to truly and authentically express myself.” She is determined and dedicated to her music career. “Music is just as vital to me as the air I breathe. It’s who I am… it's what God created me for,” she emotes.
Olivia Jo is thrilled to take her career back to her bluegrass roots. She released her debut single in bluegrass titled, "You'll Always Be My Blue Eyed Darling", in September 2022, a classic that was first recorded in 1940 by Roy Acuff & His Smoky Mountain Boys and has been covered by a plethora of artists since then; but never by a female artist. “This song goes way back. I first heard it performed by Harley Allen with the Allen Brothers from one of their shows in the 1980s. I was instantly struck by Harley’s voice and the way he sang it. As an up-and-coming bluegrass artist, I wanted my debut single to be a song everyone would love and identify with, that would also showcase my vocal style and range. I think this song checks all of those boxes and I’m eager to share my version of this classic, timeless tune with everyone,” Olivia shares. With Olivia Jo on lead vocals, the tune features an A-list lineup: Lou Reid, harmony vocals/rhythm guitar; Ron Stewart, banjo/fiddle; Shawn Lane, mandolin; and Barry Bales, bass. Lou Reid also produced the artist's debut single.
The artist released a single in late February 2023 called, "Mighty Mississippi", which features the same all-star lineup. "I wanted to come back with something more upbeat and driving." the artist says. "We tried to create something new and fresh, and put my own spin on it, while still keeping the integrity of the original song alive. Truthfully, I think that's the beauty of doing a cover song and I strived to accomplish that with my version of Mighty Mississippi." she explains.
Her single “Nothing to Lose” released in Summer 2023 was written by Kim Fox, a renowned songwriter across multiple genres. Olivia Jo expresses her excitement about releasing this song as her newest single, saying, "Lou Reid brought the song to my attention and together we decided to make the song a duet. It has an upbeat melody and lyrics that will catch your ear right off the bat. With Lou’s prolific lead and harmony vocals, I was very happy to have his accompaniment on this song. I really enjoyed recording this song because it has a different style than my previously released singles, which allowed me to show a different side of my voice. All in all, I am quite pleased with how the song turned out and I’m excited to release it as my next single."
Olivia Jo is looking forward to greater opportunities and new experiences in the world of bluegrass music. She says, "I grew up on this music, so it's embedded in my heart. It's where I got my start; and even though I've ventured into other genres, nothing feels like 'home' quite like bluegrass does. That is why I'm so eager to continue my musical journey in bluegrass and see where the road takes me." She was recently signed to ATS Records, a record label in Knoxville, TN. "I'm anticipating great things as this new chapter of my career begins, and I'm so grateful for this new opportunity. ATS is a record label that truly values the artist and strives to help them succeed by working closely with them to provide the support that they need." Olivia Jo is set to release her first single with the label in early 2024.