Television has always been a component that can really help drive an artists' career. Nobody is finding out just how vital the two can be more than Stephanie Urbina Jones. After pursuing her dreams for over a decade, it appears the San Antonio native is on the cusp of some big things happening in her life and career -- and she owes a great deal of it to her exposure on the nationally syndicated series "Troubadour Texas."
Jones talked with Billboard to promote this weekend's episode of the show, and says that she is still amazed at how the opportunity presented itself.
"About a year ago, I met a guy by the name of Johnny Clark through my attorney in Nashville. He was a businessman who really liked my music, and he really liked what I could represent in Country Music, bringing the Hispanic demographic to it. About six months go by, and I get a phone call from him. 'Stephanie, I'm at a Bible study with a guy named Michael Blanton, who used to manage Amy Grant. He is talking about this TV show that he is a part of called 'Troubadour Texas,' where they are looking for artists, the troubadour-type artists that have come from Texas."
Opportunity was about to knock on the door. 'He said they are doing auditions in San Antonio next week, and I really think you should do it. I called, and they were very selective about how many people they were auditioning. I happened to be in Texas that week touring, and I had four shows leading up to my audition. It was during allergy season, and I completely lost my voice. I did a Bob Dylan version of one of my songs called 'I Am Home.' I told my story of how I had been in the industry for ten years, a writer for Sony Tree, signed by Jim McBride. How, when I was writing, I discovered this great passion to express myself as an artist."
As an artist, Jones has placed several records on the Texas Music Chart, where "Shakin' Things Up" topped the list for five straight weeks. She also has shared the microphone with such legendary artists as Willie Nelson. She is glad for that exposure, and hopes to develop her career even more. "I have a great appreciation for my Hispanic roots, and I wanted to celebrate them in country music. That's what led me to being an artist."
Soon after the audition, the phone rang again. "A couple of weeks later, I got the call that I was one of twenty-five artists that they had chosen for the show."
Not only did her musical talents intrigue the show's producers, but also the fact that she had done some acting. "One of the things that they were interested in was not only was I an artist, but I was stepping into acting. I was the female lead in a Texas western last year that was called 'Courage."
Since "Troubadour" has been airing, Jones says she has gotten quite a bit of response from people in and out of the business. "I think a lot of people who tune in are really amazed by what it takes to be an artist. They have no idea what goes on before you hit the stage. Nobody sees the grueling grit that go into putting it all together to get that moment - the process of songwriting or trying to put a team behind you. As exciting as it is right now with being an independent artist, with the social network and everything, it's still a big job for an independent artist to do."
Though that road has been a little long at times, she says that she knows she is following her heart. "Without question, almost every year, I have to pray about my path. It always becomes very clear. Something happens, or someone steps in. It's very obvious that I'm supposed to be staying in at that point."
Now, with the exposure that being on "Troubadour" has afforded her, she is very excited about some of the possibilities that are presenting themselves to her. "It blows me away," she declares. "I feel as an artist, I'm out there doing all the aspects of booking to promoting. Of course, I have people who help me. It's like any business. You work hard. You keep tilling the field and planting the seed, and keep chipping away at becoming a better performer or a writer - all the things that make an artist successful. Then, all of a sudden, you get to a point where the spotlight comes on, and people value what you're doing, it's an exciting time. I'm incredibly humbled and grateful… and excited!"