Jessica Rowboat’s music, with her low-key acoustic work and beautifully gentle vocals, is the very definition of feather-light. That doesn’t mean she’s fragile though. Her songs feature strong melodies and conversational lyrics that make her easy to listen and relate to.
Rowboat, whose real name is Jessica Rozario-Ospino, has been surrounded by music since she was a toddler.
She grew up in Jackson Heights and Woodside, with parents and a brother who are classical musicians. Still, it took a few years for her to decide to pursue a career in music.
“My first time on stage was around the age of four, which left me sufficiently terrified for a few years. Though I’ve always been drawn to it, I didn’t necessarily fall in love with a career in music at the time,” she said. “I attended LaGuardia High School, where I began to write and compose more seriously, but it wasn’t until a few years into college that music really caught up to me.”
Although Rowboat has embraced her career, she still finds the songwriting process to be grueling, at least until she falls into a groove.
“I have a terrible time sitting down to write, but once I get going, it’s difficult to do anything else,” she said. “If someone told me they could hole me up in a cave to write for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t hesitate.”
Lyrically, Rowboat said she writes and sings about anything she cannot forget, with her material ranging from songs about God to numbers about her husband.
Growing up in the immigrant community of Jackson Heights had an impact on her writing as well in that the neighborhood has heavily influenced her character and her writing. Plus, she said she just loves the area.
“I’ll always have a heart for the immigrant experience,” Rowboat said. “Jackson Heights is known for having an eclectic immigrant feel and it’s fostered in me this incredible love and curiosity for different cultures. A neighborhood with Empanadas and Kulfi within walking distance? Brilliant.”
Rowboat put her songwriting to use on 2013’s “Pears,” an album that she wrote, recorded and produced herself. The record tells her story over the course of eight songs.
“It’s definitely more personal,” she said. “About falling in love, and deciding to spend your life with someone.”
Her latest release, “Camera Song,” only came out a month ago. The song is about her Canon 7D camera that was stolen about a year ago from her car on the Lower East Side.
“[It] left an irrevocable hollow in my heart,” Rowboat said. “But really, I just wrote it in hopes that the thief would someday hear it and know that I understand. That there are no hard feelings.”
For the second half of 2014, Rowboat will release “Seven Painters,” an album about the experiences of artists like Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. She is also putting together a northeast U.S. tour for the fall. For her latest updates, visit jessicarowboat.bandcamp.com or www.facebook.com/jessicarowboat.