Nashville-based singer Janelle Arthur talks first on-screen role in upcoming country drama 'Runnin' From My Roots'
The American Idol Top 5 finisher discusses her new acting career, upcoming music, influences, and fulfilling her childhood dream of performing at the Grand Ole Opry
Fast-rising country singer Janelle Arthur is all set to showcase her vocal chops on her first on-screen appearance in the forthcoming family-friendly drama 'Runnin' From My Roots'. Arthur stars in the lead role as country singer Faith Winters, who after a very public fall from grace, seeks refuge in her rural Texas hometown. Old feelings of affection are rekindled as drama ensues in Winters' life in the film that also features country stars Deana Carter and Neal McCoy, as well as Nia Sioux from Dance Moms, Janine Turner and Leigh-Allyn Baker.
Growing up in the small town of Oliver Springs, Tennessee, Janelle Arthur began singing in the heart of the Smoky Mountains when she was just eight years old. Arthur was also exposed to theater at a young age, being hired as a child performer for the Country Tonite Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. She later returned to the theater stage as an adult performer and remained with the cast for another four years. After cutting her teeth in the local music scene and thousands of shows later, Janelle moved to Nashville to fulfill her childhood dream in 2010.
Soon after, she began her journey on the 12th season of American Idol. Arthur made it all the way to the Top 5 out of a total of nearly 120,000 competitors, which not only gave her international exposure on Idol, but also on television with appearances on shows like 'Today', 'The Kelly & Michael Show' and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Janelle's lifelong dream was to perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage, and she has fulfilled that dream multiple times since her debut on June 19, 2013. She released her first post-Idol debut single, 'What You Asked For' in 2014 and followed it up with her debut EP, the eponymously titled 'Janelle'. Last year, Janelle released her latest single 'Light Myself On Fire'.
She’s been the opening act for Craig Morgan, Rascal Flatts and has performed alongside and/or collaborated with The Henningson’s, The Band Perry and Vince Gill.
I caught up with Janelle Arthur for an email interview where we discussed her first on-screen role in a feature-length production, the Nashville experience, her musical influences, performing at the Grand Ole Opry, upcoming music and more. Read the full interview below:
‘Runnin’ From My Roots’ is your first on-screen performance. Congratulations! Although the film is heavily centered around music (which is your forte obviously), and you’ve done a lot of theater before, getting behind the camera must have been new. What was the experience like?
The experience was definitely new. There is such a difference between stage and film. On stage, everything needs to be exaggerated. On film, the things that are very subtle read so much more. So, it was all about hoping that I was pulling back enough but my emotions were still reading to the camera. I also didn’t watch any playback, so the whole time we were filming I was hoping that my performance was right. It was a challenging but amazing experience, and I had so much fun on and off set.
Nashville is obviously very dear to you. You grew up in Tennessee, and you moved to Nashville to pursue your music career. What is the Nashville experience to you?
I always knew that I would move to Nashville someday. From the time I was little, that was the plan. Nashville gives me the opportunity to play live music venues, I got my first publishing deal in Nashville and I have made so many friends here who love to do the same things that I love. Nashville has so much charm and creativity and I plan on living here for the rest of my life.
Your character in the film Faith Winters is also a Nashville based singer. Was it easier to step into her shoes for you since you were already familiar with the scene?
Of course. It was very easy to identify with this character. It was also easy for me to improvise and make suggestions on how things work when it comes to the Nashville music scene. Because of my affiliation with Nashville, they were very generous and gave me the freedom to make changes to make it more real.
You’ve said before that your lifelong dream was to perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage. Now that you’ve achieved your dream multiple times, what’s next?
There are a lot of things that I have checked off my bucket list, the movie being one of those. I love touring and love to travel. I would love to have more reasons to get back on the road. I am excited about my new single, 'Runnin’ From My Roots' (which happens to be the title track of our movie) being released on October 26. I’m also excited about the video that will accompany the single soon after.
Your latest single 'Light Myself On Fire’ dropped last year. What does the song mean to you?
I consider this the co-dependent anthem. So many times we feel as if it is our responsibility to make others happy. I feel the overall message is empowering as it talks about how we sometimes have to separate ourselves from toxic people or relationships.
Are you going to follow it up with more original music soon? Perhaps a second EP to follow-up 2015’s self-titled one?
I am constantly working on new music and I’m looking forward to sharing it soon.
You placed in the Top 5 in Season 12 of American Idol. Looking back, what did you take away from the experience?
American Idol was the most challenging thing that I have ever done in my career. I have had some grueling schedules in my life time, and this was by far the most intense. It has made a lot of things since then seem pretty easy. I learned that I can handle a lot emotionally and physically. It continues to open doors for me today.
Your song choices for Idol ranged from Keith Urban to Lady Antebellum, The Beatles, Elvis, Billy Joel, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton and more. Is that an accurate description of your influences?
Pretty accurate. I listen to and appreciate all types of music. It was pretty special to sing a Dolly Parton and Vince Gill song in front of millions of people; they are two of my biggest influences.
What have you been listening to of late?
I’m always listening to whatever music goes with my mood for the day. It could be Michael Jackson, Shania Twain, John Mayer or Eva Cassidy.
What’s next for Janelle Arthur?
You’ll have to watch and see!