For local pop musician Jacob Westfall, a good performance comes down to a simple idea: “Serve the song.”
It’s an approach that didn’t come easy at first. Westfall reflects, “Growing up, I tried to emulate vocalists like Michael Bublé or John Mayer. It wasn't until I began taking vocal lessons that I realized I had been singing poorly and unhealthily, and without changing my style of singing, I would cause irreparable damage to my vocal chords.”
Luckily, Westfall took his vocal coach’s advice to heart, learning in that moment how mentorship and collaboration could open doors to his craft that he never thought possible. Perhaps it’s this unique, growth-centered mindset that has contributed to his success over the years and led to appearances on not one, but two reality singing competitions (The Voice and American Idol).
A bit of humility and humor helps, too. Westfall adds, “I love working with people more talented than me because it allows me to learn about the habits of those who are successful.”
It’s for that reason that Westfall has sought writing collaborators from Portland to Nashville. The song “Someday” was cowritten with Nashville musician Brooks Hubbard in 2016. The song’s lyrics were a means to vocalize their shared dream to “sing with the rock stars,” a dream that came to fruition when he performed the tune for the judges of American Idol: Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. Though, ever a careful businessman, Westfall remembers that he was “extremely anxious to perform the song, and initially refused to play any original material,” out of fear he would lose the rights to his work. Eventually, producers relented, and he was able to play his original song for the judges off camera, earning him a spot in Hollywood.
Now that opportunity has wrapped, Westfall is back home and in the studio finalizing an LP with Steve Sundholm that he calls his “most honest creation yet.”
True to form, the record features collaborative efforts from artists in Nashville (Brooks Hubbard, Anne Buckle, Jimmy Borja, Judy Klass), Los Angeles, and Portland (Hayley Lynn, Cary Samsel).
With his velvet vocals and keen pop production sensibilities, this will no doubt be a record to watch for. It’s due out this fall.