As Jamie Lynn Spears reflects on the power of Zoey 101 and looks ahead to more new music -- as well as reprising her role in the Netflix series Sweet Magnolias -- she answered Billboard’s 20 questions about her early influences, upcoming projects and how Britney once helped her overcome her musical jitters.
1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
It was a Shania Twain CD, Come On Over. The one that had “That Don’t Impress Me Much” on it, and I used to replace the lyrics with “So you think you’re Britney Spears? That don’t impress me much!” So I would change the words and I would perform it in my living room.
2. What was the first concert you saw?
That’s tricky, because I grew up going to my sister’s concerts – I don’t really remember a concert before her. The first one I really remember was the one where she was opening up for *NSYNC and she had on this silver top and this silver pant and she had her belly out, and people were like “Oh my god, that’s so scandalous” and I just remember thinking “My sister looks great and she’s in a real show doing a real concert!”
3. How did your parents shape your musical taste?
They have very different taste in music, so I think that that was important. My dad is very much into country music. You know, Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks… And my mom is like: Elton John, Eric Clapton, all those kinds of people. It made me love and appreciate all music.
4. Who made you realize you could be an artist full-time?
I would say that my sister showed me that it was possible. We lived in, you know, Podunk Kentwood, Louisiana, and she wanted something bad enough to go after it. And then my mom and my dad – they believed in her to support that. So to me, it was my family saying, “You’re good enough for anything you work hard for.”
5. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?
That’s hard! I would say it would be to win something – like an Emmy, or something like that. And not just for a project that I was a part of, but something I was a part of creating on the back end – like songwriting on the music side, or producing on the TV side. I just think that would be something that I would really, really like – I mean obviously, who wouldn’t want that?
6. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?
Oh, it’s everything. The people who supported me and still support me and keep me grounded – but now they’re doing that for my children, and I think that’s the reason why I moved back and I want to raise my kids there, because it keeps me honest. My hometown keeps my really honest.
7. What’s the last song you listened to?
“Follow Me (Zoey 101)” – it really is. I had to sing it about 400 times yesterday!
8. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?
I really wanted to see Prince. That’s somebody I didn’t get to see.
9. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your sets?
One time while were shooting Zoey 101, and Matthew Underwood (who played Logan Reese) had just gotten his permit… and he wrecked his BMW on set! It was unbelievable. It was pretty dramatic, and probably the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
10. How has the pandemic affected your creativity in 2020?
It’s been way up and way down. I get really, really hyper-creative and want to do everything; and then I just get like, “Ugh, gosh, when am I going to be able to have my creative outlet, I just want to sit here and binge-watch TV.” So I think it’s been a rollercoaster but overall, some of my best creative stuff has probably come from being alone and having time to be patient with my thoughts.
11. What was it like to experience the Zoey 101 cast reunion?
It was awesome. It felt like I was kind of in a dream, but it was awesome to see everybody, and see everybody doing well. And, you know, that obviously the Zoey chemistry was still there. And the fans loved it, which to me was the best part – giving the fans that, what they’ve been wanting so very much.
12. What made you decide that it was time to record a full-length, updated version of the theme song?
Well, we never released the original song. And it became just as popular as the show did – people wanted the song, the fans wanted the song. During this pandemic, I think a lot of people were reaching back for their childhood shows and comfort TV, and I wanted to give them something to hold them over while we’re working on the reboot and also kind of test the waters as to what the reboot would look like.
The song is a great example for what the reboot will be, by marrying the original Zoey with today’s generations. Making both the old fans and the new fans happy, and making it something positive, that talks about coming together as people while also just being happy and dancing around – I think this song really covers all of that.
13. How much do you expect your focus to be on music in 2021 and beyond?
Whether I’m writing music privately or whether I am out there doing it publicly, music is a huge part of my everyday life. I’m a creative person and right now, the creative outlets that I’ve been able to have have been Sweet Magnolias and this song and reboot, which has been really fun because I’ve been able to have both music and acting. So I think for me, music is always there – it’s just about having the time to do it and do it properly.
14. What are your memories of hearing the Zoey 101 theme song, which was co-written by your big sister Britney, for the first time?
When I first heard the original one, I remember having to go sing it in the studio and I was so very nervous, so I was just like… “I don’t want to sing anything, I don’t want to do anything!” But thankfully my sister was there and she talked me through it, like any big sister would. I just remember being like really proud hearing myself on a full song. Can you imagine being 12 years old and hearing yourself on a fully produced song? I was like, “Man, this is the coolest thing I will ever do.”
15. What’s your karaoke go-to?
“Fancy,” Reba McEntire.
16. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?
17. What TV series have you watched all the way through multiple times?
Probably Parks and Rec and The Golden Girls and Bewitched… I watched Bewitched a bunch of times, even the ones in black-and-white.
18. What’s one thing that even your most devoted fans don’t know about you?
Hmm. One thing they might not know about me is that I’m also a songwriter for other artists. I co-wrote the song “I Got The Boy” by Jana Kramer, which won NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) and BMI Awards.
19. If you were not a musician, what would you be?
I’d like to be a meteorologist… ‘cause I’m really afraid of tornadoes, and meteorologists get to be in a big studio every time there’s a tornado, and I feel like that’s the safest place to be. I’m really unafraid of anything… except when it comes to a tornado. I get the shakes and I go hide in the closet. In my new house, I’m actually going to build myself a little safe room for the tornadoes because I’m just so deathly afraid of them. But honestly, I love everything to do with the weather, so I think that’d be a dream job.
20. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
Enjoy it, and stop being so hard on yourself. Have fun and just do what you feel you want to do, you know? Trust your gut and have fun.
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