Jen Ledger, who has spent the last decade as drummer for the hard rock outfit Skillet, is signing a deal with Atlantic Records and Hear it Loud, the imprint launched by Skillet’s John & Korey Cooper and longtime manager Zachary Kelm. Her debut EP, LEDGER, drops April 13.
“I feel I’ve just been growing and changing over the last few years and I feel the time is now, “ Ledger tells Billboard. “It just feels like everything is lined up all at once. It’s super exciting because it is a little bit of a destiny moment.”
Ledger credits Skillet frontman John Cooper and his wife/Skillet keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Korey with mentoring her and helping her develop her own sound. “Over the last couple of years, the Coopers have really been training me, helping me on my writing and really helping me find my own unique style,” says the British-born musician, who joined the band just as she turned 18. “I’m not just mini-Skillet. I’m edgy and rocky, but I’m also soft and got a little bit of pop in me too. They’ve been helping me find out not only who I am musically, but also who I am as a person and what do I want to say.”
LEDGER was produced by Korey Cooper and acclaimed Nashville writer/producer Seth Moseley, whose credits include Newsboys, Francesca Battistelli, and For King & Country.
“From when I started working with Skillet 10 years ago, I was immediately impressed with how vibrant and talented Jen Ledger is,” Atlantic Records President of A&R Pete Ganbarg tells Billboard. “Her voice is so unique — and has become such an identifiable part of Skillet’s sound — that we’ve waited for most of the past decade for the moment when she would finally be ready to release her own music. What she’s been working on with John and Korey Cooper, as well as with Seth Moseley and others, shows that the wait has definitely been worth it.”
Working with a full band, Ledger will serve as opening act on Skillet’s upcoming joy.UNLEASHED tour, which kicks off April 12, and then take her usual place behind the drums for Skillet’s headlining set. She has no plans to exit Skillet. “We’re all on the same team and we’re all kind of mixed into everything,” Ledger says. “John is actually going to be singing on one of my songs and Korey is co-producing all of it and writing it with me, so it’s ridiculously perfect. I get to do everything I want and have the best of both worlds.”
Launched in 1999, Skillet has been successful in both the mainstream rock and faith-based music arenas. The band’s double-platinum album Awake earned them a Billboard Music Award. Skillet’s current album, Unleashed, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and the first single “Feel Invincible” went to No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
After a decade providing the beat for the Dove Award-winning band, Ledger already has a built-in fan base as she aims for solo success. “We plan to utilize the core base of Skillet as a first introduction to Jen’s music,” says Ganbarg. “There is a built-in audience ready for more and through touring, videos and radio, we plan to start with them and expand organically over time.”
As she embarks on this new chapter, Ledger has a wealth of experience behind her and has garnered fans around the globe. “The main thing I’ve learned from touring with Skillet is just how impactful music is because I have traveled the world from Russia to Japan to Australia and I have seen music impact people,” Ledger says. “I’ve seen people all over the world say, ‘You’ve saved my life,’ and that is an honor to be able to be a part of anything that influential in the world, for it to be power and light and hope, to save people and to help people get over addiction or empower people that want to give up. I’ve seen music go above and beyond what you could ever imagine and I’ve seen John and Korey stay 100% true to who they are and what they believe.”
The EP will feature such songs as the poignant ballad “Ruins,” which Ledger wrote with Korey Cooper, the anthemic “I’m Not Dead Yet” and the lyrically empowering “Bold” that showcases her shimmering vocals. “I’m going to sing songs to hopefully inspire people to not give up and inspire people to keep going when they want to give up or when they feel afraid,” she says.
“There are so many voices in the world right now screaming at people. The biggest influence is reality TV shows. People who are actually very dysfunctional with addictions and broken relationships seem to be the loudest voices out there, so I feel incredibly passionate and excited to be someone in the world that’s just a source of light and hope.”