The Hippo


Jul 23, 2019








AJ Jansen. Courtesy photo.

 AJ Jansen

When: Saturday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m.
Where: Amsterdam Bar and Lounge, 8 Temple St., Nashua

Surviving and thriving
AJ Jansen returns to Nashua

By Michael Witthaus

 In her home state of Connecticut, country music singer AJ Jansen performs at rooms like Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den and does a tribute revue she created called Outlaw Women of Country in opera houses and theaters.  

When she’s in Nashville, it’s all about the work — business meetings, showcases, radio appearances and the occasional recording session. Not too long ago, she cut a single at Ocean Way Studios, where artists like Sheryl Crow, Blake Shelton and Kenny Chesney have worked. 
“It’s an industry pace down there,” Jansen said. 
The performer’s North/South commute began six years ago, but Jansen hasn’t lost touch with her New England roots while navigating country music’s capital city. 
“If you try to be a different person, it’s the wrong mentality,” she said. “Do your own thing — that makes you stand out more. I learned that lesson a long time ago.”
Jansen’s music is informed by everything from her older brother’s Waylon Jennings records to Bon Jovi, Jewel and Stevie Nicks. 
“And I love Shania Twain; she really changed the business,” she said. 
She started writing songs at 6 years old but didn’t catch the performing bug until she was asked to sing the national anthem at a casino event. 
“It was amazing,” she said. “That was when I knew I wanted to pursue it full time.” 
Since then, she’s worked in impressive venues and opened for acts like Phil Vassar and Jefferson Starship. 
“It’s been a great ride so far, and getting better,” said Jansen. 
Her fourth album is A Country Girl Can Survive, a gender-flipping nod to Hank Williams Jr. The title track video, shot retro style in grainy black and white, features a jeans and plaid shirt-clad Jansen waving a whiskey bottle; she also struts in a slinky long dress.  
The clip’s currently on the CMT website, a coup for the young performer, and hard work has paid off in Jansen’s home region as well. On New Year’s Day, she received a New England Music Award nomination for best country artist. The winner will be announced at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Feb. 22. 
“I was really happy to hear that, and we’ll see what happens,” said the singer.
Still, Jansen reports that her most memorable moment didn’t happen on a stage, but in a hospital. She accepted an invitation to volunteer for David’s House, a charity that provides services to young cancer patients and their families. 
“They asked me to come and sit with the children, and sing them a few songs,” she said. “I didn’t know how I would react; it was my first try at doing anything like this. But interacting with the kids and seeing the smiles on their faces, that was a moment that reassured me why I do music and why I love entertaining.  It makes you appreciate what you have in life.” 
Saturday, Jan. 18, will be her third show in three months at Nashua’s Amsterdam Bar.  
“I’m really happy to be coming back. ... There’s actually quite a country crowd there,” Jansen said, adding that she’s as enamored of New Hampshire as it appears to be of her. “It’s a beautiful state and I always feel very much at home when I play there. The people are great and they have a love of country music that is sometimes rare to find in the Northeast. So I just want everybody to know that I’m always happy about coming to New Hampshire; we’re always greeted with open arms.” 

As seen in the January 16th, 2014 issue of The Hippo

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