AS a little girl singer/songwriter Jessica Speziale used to sit at the kitchen table and write and record music with her father and his acoustic guitar.
"When I was about five or six my dad got a four-track recorder," she says. "I had learned a song in music class called 'Kumbaya,' so we got the four-track out on the kitchen table and we made a recording of 'Kumbaya' and that was my first experience with recording music."
It was during one of those kitchen sessions, when Speziale was 10 years old, that she began experimenting with songwriting.
"My dad suggested that we should write a song together," she says. "So we wrote this song called 'Beneath the Banyon Tree.' It was a country tune and I was just so inspired. After we finished writing it we recorded a demo and afterwards I immediately went to my room and wrote my first pop song."
In June, Speziale performed at One Fire Movement's Song's From the Heart CD release party at the Mod Club in Toronto as part of NXNE.
"The performance was unbelievable," she says. "It was such a magical evening."
One Fire Movement was founded by Tony Roost in 2009 and is an artist collective that encourages and promotes positivity and fundraises for charities through arts and music.
Songs from the Heart, features songs from Speziale, Ania Soul, J.P. Saxe, Brendan Albert, Christian Bridges, Rory O'Hearn, Julian Fuego and Alissa Vox Raw with proceeds from the album donated to the Nellie's Women's Shelter and Amnesty International.
"Lots of people came out and we had a huge party," Speziale says. "The other artists on the album were also at the performance so we have this really great lineup of incredible artists."
In addition to lending her voice for a charitable cause, Speziale has a personal connection to one of the charities involved with the One Fire Movement. Her great aunt is June Callwood, former journalist, social activist and founder of the Nellie's Women's Shelter.
"It really meant a lot to me to be a part of this and to lend my voice to such an incredible cause," Speziale says. "Being a woman myself I also feel strongly about helping other people who are in situations that they may feel vulnerable in."
"I had an incredible opportunity to play a mother's day show for Nellie's Women's Shelter. I met some of the ladies and hung out with them afterwards and it was really cool to see who we were helping and who the organization is currently working with," she adds.
Speziale's career began professionally about three years ago after she realized that marketing wasn't what she really wanted to be doing.
"I took a whole bunch of time off to go to University and I stopped playing music. I had this crazy idea that I wanted to be a marketer or something," she says. "One day it snapped. I took the guitar out from under the bed and wrote two songs."
It was then that Speziale realized she wanted to pursue music seriously as a career.
"Music is something that I love so passionately and deeply that I can't stop doing it. That's when I started getting into performing full sets and getting the band together."
Speziale's parents are both musicians. As an infant she went on tour with her father's band, Backstreet, in Las Vegas. Her father now lends his talents to several music projects including Chicago and James Taylor tribute bands. She says her dad has been a major influence throughout her career.
"It's a very quiet influence.
One of the ones you don't realize until it hits you in the face. I always thought the other influences were so much greater but really there is nothing quite like meeting your dad's friends when you're out in the music scene," Speziale says. "That feeling of 'I really want to do my dad proud so I am going to practise my butt off.' It's very inspiring to me."
"My dad is such a rock star to me. Getting to grow up with that caliber of musicianship in my life has been very influential. Because it is so close to me and has always been there it definitely is one of those influences that you don't realize until you step back," she adds.
Alanis Morissette, Hanson, Silverchair, and Amanda Marshall influenced Speziale when she was growing up. Speziale explains that Morissette's music helped her better understand songwriting.
"When she came out with 'Ironic' and Jagged Little Pill that was the first time I realized that the artist writes the music and it comes from somewhere. That's when I realized I could do that too. I started songwriting because of that album," Speziale says.
"I learned to harmonize by singing along with Hanson records," she adds.
The University of Guelph graduate released her first EP titled Dear Reverie in November of 2011. The disc was recorded in four days at Epik Productions in Toronto It was the first time she had ever recorded an album professionally.
"It was an excellent learning experience and I am really pleased with the way it turned out," she says. "It was supposed to be a three-day schedule and we ended up adding a fourth day because I didn't realize certain things. There is all this stuff in the editing that take more time than I imagined. I even forgot to schedule time to play my acoustic guitar, I am used to singing and playing at the time and they are two separate pieces. We also did the recording backwards, we did the drums last."
Speziale's music currently receives airplay on CIUT 89.5 and on Internet Radio Stations, INtune Radio, Butterflies Radio, Radio Humber, Radio Nation, The Haze FM and Radio Humber. Her song "Weak in the Knees" was voted second place in INtune Magazine's Song of the Year Countdown.
In 2012 Speziale embarked on an 11-day Southern Ontario tour, which saw her perform in a handful of cities including Toronto, Ottawa, Mississauga, Hamilton, London, Guelph, and Newmarket.
"It was one of my favourite experiences so far with music," Speziale says. "Having three weeks of music and meeting people and getting really immersed in performance. I did book it myself independently and it was a huge learning experience in terms of contacting venues and promoters."
It isn't always easy finding the right musicians, even in Canada's largest city. Speziale's four-piece band has seen a fair share of members come and go over the years. Speziale says that since October she's finally had a stable group of people.
"It's incredibly tough," she says. "You're in a relationship with each of one your band members, but then each one of your band members is also in a relationship with each other. Then musically the relationship has to work."
On her off time Speziale has found herself traveling, mainly to countries in Latin America. She's previously travelled to Ecuador, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Peru.
"I have a love affair with Latin America," she says. "I love going to Spanish speaking countries. I love the people, I love the food, and I love the culture."
Her travels to Latin America have had an influence on her music, although she has yet to release anything with noticeably Latin sounds.
"I love various percussion instruments but it hasn't come out in any of my music except 'Babyface,'" Speziale says. "'Babyface' is loosely based on an experience I had in Dominican Republic when I was on vacation there with my girlfriends. It is about the people that you meet and the lies that you find out afterwards that you were told, because when people are on vacation they don't necessarily tell you the truth."
Speziale has plans to release another album but says she's learned from her past recording experience and doesn't want to rush any new material.
"The next one will be done over a long period," she says. "It is a big piece of the art. It is creating that snapshot in time that others are going to enjoy over and over again, so it should be perfect."
For more information on One Fire Movement visit onefiremovement. com and more for information of Jessica Speziale visit www.jessicaspeziale.com or follow her on Twitter @Spezzie.
© Copyright 2013