WHO IS JUSTINE BLAZER?
To answer your first question, yes, “Blazer” is her real, given name. “I get asked that all the time,” Justine says with a smile. It’s also an accurate description of the impact her incredible talent is searing into the heart of the country music world.
A statuesque 5-foot-10 twenty something blonde and former model, Justine Blazer is impossible to overlook – or ignore. To answer all your other questions, listen to her latest CD Welcome to My World, or sample her powerhouse five-octave voice at a live show. Infusing her vivacious country sound with the brawny rock ‘n’ roll and silvery soul of her Motor City roots, the national recording artist whose single and video “Red, White and Blue” has become an anthem for our servicemen overseas is expanding her enthusiastic fan base with every original song. Along with singing and performing, she also plays the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and the harmonica.
Welcome to My World represents “the first album where I was able to showcase my work entirely,” Justine says. “I wrote all 12 songs and produced them all. I come from a family of hard workers, and that was instilled in me. Those values were important to me from Day One.”
Justine has been preparing for superstardom in the entertainment business virtually since her Day One. Raised in Canton, Mich., outside Detroit, her mother, Cynthia, was a onetime Ford model and dancer who operated her own dance studio. “I grew up in that studio, literally,” Justine says. “Ballet, tap, jazz, all that stuff. I was in my first beauty pageant at 2.” Her parents encouraged her to sing and enrolled her in private vocal lessons “because I was always singing around the house,” she recalls. “I watched movies like Annie, lots of musicals, because I was always interested in performing. But my parents never pushed me. I wanted to do it, and they supported my dream.”
Her family moved to Nashville for several years. “That’s probably where the country roots started,” Justine suggests. “Growing up, I listened to women who could sing exceptionally well. I was a big Patsy Cline fan. Martina McBride. Faith Hill. Reba, of course. Even Judy Garland. She wasn’t country, but she was one of my favorites.”
Justine started writing songs at 8, playing piano at 10, studying opera at 12. “I had a different focus than most kids,” she says. “I always had dreams of becoming a big star. Even at the age of 10 I knew what I wanted to do, and I will stop at nothing to get there. I still have that mindset.”
She recorded her first three-song EP at 13, which got her noticed on the Nashville scene. Upon graduating from high school, she began learning guitar and moved away from home to pursue her career. She landed her first professional gig as a cast performer at Cedar Point amusement park, then moved to New York to work with different producers and learn the music business. “I was actually homeless at one point,” Justine relates. “I was living with a person who died in a car accident and I couldn’t afford the rent, so I was forced to leave. It wasn’t necessarily a hard time but it made me super strong, and it made me understand the full spectrum of the music business. This wasn’t something I was just doing for fun. I was willing to sacrifice anything to do it.”
While honing her craft she traveled the country as an auto show spokesperson and model – singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at pro sports events in whatever city she was working – became proficient on multiple instruments, appeared in countless showcase performances and songwriter events, recorded her original tunes in studios, and danced well enough to earn an invitation from the Radio City Rockettes. All the while, whenever she could, she returned to Nashville. “Just experiencing the lifestyle down there,” she says. “Trying to get back to my roots, if you will.”
In 2004, responding to requests from fans of her live performances, Justine recorded an album of holiday music, Just a Justine Christmas. The following year she released her first contemporary CD, Passion in Me,featuring the single “Raining in the City.” It was followed in 2008 by the LP Red, White and Blue, and most recently by Welcome to My World. Along the way, she has been nominated for 15 Detroit Music Awards and, surprisingly, won the Detroit Blues Challenge in 2007.
Backed by her veteran band – singer-guitarist Kerry Adams, bassist Rick Jacoby, Mark Sutton on drums, John Lang on pedal steel and Don Whyte on sax and keyboards – Justine plays around 200 live dates a year headlining shows across the county and even sharing the same stage of artists such as Lonestar, Terri Clark, Kathy Mattea, Jason Aldean, The Miracles and even Regis Philbin. She sells thousands of CDs at her shows and constantly continues to perfect her musical and studio skills in anticipation of moving her flourishing career to the next level.
“I want to be able to headline the Ryman (Auditorium) in Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry, and have my own full major tour. It’s because I know how much joy I give people when I perform, and it’s just spreading that to the masses, making it a global thing. I perform for people because I love it, but I love it more when I put a smile on somebody’s face. I know that sounds corny, but it’s the truth. I feel like this is something I was destined to do, and I’m honored when I see people who’ve bought my CDs singing my songs in the audience. I can’t tell you what that feels like. It’s the most amazing thing. If they’re not loud and rowdy, I’m not doing my job.”