Jennifer Nettles '97
Sociology and Anthropology
Now: Singer, Songwriter
When Jennifer Nettles ’97 and Olivia Roller ’97 were matched as first-year roommates, they worked out a deal early on: if Nettles would sing, Roller would type her papers.
While at Agnes Scott, Nettles formed Soul Miner’s Daughter with guitarist Cory Jones. The buzz from that collaboration started a following in the Southeast, and they were favorites down the street at Eddie’s Attic and the 40-Watt Club in Athens. In 1999, the Jennifer Nettles Band formed; they already had enough national recognition to play Sarah McLachlan’s festival, Lilith Fair, the same year.
A Douglas, Ga., native, Nettles began performing as a child in school and church. Her music echoes soul, country, folk and rock and blues—and continues to evolve.
“Sugarland's music tells a story that people can relate to on a really human day-to-day level," she says on her website. "But they're fun stories. They're light stories. It's music that's not taking itself too seriously."
"In my own singer/songwriter work, I did more of that kind of self-exploration, a little bit more processing of life on a heavier scale,” Nettles writes. “Sugarland is more for the sake of fun, and people relate to our energy on stage. Everybody has a collective good time."
Nettles’ friend and classmate, Liberty Chance Claar-Pressley remembers the first time she heard Nettles’ song, “Baby Girl,” on the radio. “I was driving down Chamblee-Tucker Road and it came on the country radio station. I immediately knew who it was, Jennifer’s voice is just too distinctive to miss,” she said.
“The lyrics of ‘Baby Girl’ are Jennifer’s life—and near future—which made it all the more poignant. I cried huge tears and called my partner to tell her to turn on the radio. From that moment on, I heard that song everywhere and I still tear up when I hear it. I sing it to my daughter as a night-time song and she walks around singing, ‘Love your baby girl.’”
“I have yet to see her perform without her ring on,” says Claar-Pressley. “Jennifer’s wearing of her ring is one of the reasons I nominated her for this [Outstanding Young Alumna] award; she has always shown loyalty to Agnes Scott and the opportunities it provided her.”