Jessie Veeder is building a successful career in music and writing inspired by ranch life in western North Dakota – Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS — Jessie Veeder, a musician and writer from western North Dakota, has been singing and playing guitar for the public since she was 11 years old. She released her first album at 16 and has been writing since she was a child too, drawing inspiration from rural ranch life.
Recently, Veeder celebrated the release of a new book, “Prairie Princess”, and a new album, “Playing Favorites”, with a regional tour to connect with fans and spread the joy of creativity and her love. of the place to new audiences. .
“I grew up on a ranch that I love so much,” Veeder said in a recent interview with the Herald.
After high school, she went off to college and pursued other pursuits before returning to establish her own family roots. She and her husband own and operate a 3,000-acre ranch with 150 head of cattle about 30 miles from Watford City, on the edge of the Badlands, where they are fourth-generation residents and stewards.
Living on a remote cattle ranch and raising two little girls has many challenges as well as benefits, Veeder said. “It’s sometimes difficult” to live this kind of life and “more complicated” than people like to imagine.
The multi-talented musician, songwriter, columnist, blogger and book author is a busy wife and ranch mom who also runs an arts foundation she started to promote and support arts pursuits – a cause close to her heart.
She makes it a point to travel to small rural towns and perform in front of students and other people, “and I love it,” she said. “I’m really an advocate for the presence and promotion of talent in rural communities.”
And all of these things, mixed together, make up the tapestry of his life. They inspire his music, writing and storytelling.
Veeder has built a successful career in music and creative writing. In her popular weekly column for Forum Communications Co., “Coming Home”, she provides an honest, personal and often humorous picture of family and community life – one that many can relate to – with “the ranch as the backdrop”. .
Her 2015 album “Northern Lights” brought her to Nashville to record with Bill Warner, a producer who has worked with artists such as Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton and many more.
Veeder traces his affinity for music virtually from the very beginning. Her father, Gene Veeder, was a musician with a band that performed regularly around Grand Forks in the ’80s “when my mom was very pregnant with me,” she said. “We joke that I came out singing.”
As the daughter of a musician, Veeder’s childhood was steeped in the music her father favored, by artists such as Harry Chapin, Emmylou Harris and John Prine.
“We know that kids figure things out, even when they’re little,” she said. One song in particular sparked his love for songwriting; “The Waltzing Fool,” by Lyle Lovett, instilled a deep desire “to write stories like that.”
Her love of rural life stems from a childhood filled with memories of playing in the creek, catching frogs and other adventures, she said. “I remember Dad taking us to the top of a hill on the first warm day of spring. He was pointing at the beautiful sunset and saying “we are so lucky to be here”.
When Veeder started writing her blog, “I decided early on that it would be easier to be open and honest, because I didn’t think anyone would read it,” she said.
She may not have realized how much her words and the events she described would resonate, until she noticed that “people were intervening,” she said. It was obvious that they either had a personal connection to the rural experience or some exposure to it, and “they miss it because they had to move. Many of them are really nostalgic about it.
Some stories in his column seem to trigger memories in readers, especially those from childhood, tied to sensory experiences – like, in winter, being pulled down a toboggan behind a horse. A 90-year-old man emailed her to say it was one of his most treasured memories, she said.
Her readers are “longing for what they thought were simpler times,” she said, but without the many advancements – such as the internet and the like – that people now take for granted, she understands how hard his grandparents worked on the ranch that was created. 114 years ago. She feels a great sense of “gratitude for the things they gave up in (our) name,” she said. “It definitely makes you pause.”
Living on a ranch is “honestly more complicated — there’s the animals, the scenery, how to pay the bills and how to get the kids to town,” she said.
“It’s probably a harder place to live. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it. »
Veeder suspects that some are drawn to his columns because they are curious about the rural way of life. She noticed a “change” in society, especially with the pandemic, among people who “want to be part of agriculture in some way.”
Her stories of rural life represent “something they want to have and don’t know”, she said.
The emphasis of her writing is based on “very real images,” she said, and “the human experience — family, finances, aging parents, and certainly parenting and parenting. children – and the struggle to raise them properly”.
Even those incidents with children who confuse or infuriate — like a 5-year-old with a rock-solid opinion — “you can step back and laugh about it,” she said.
While much of his chronicles include snapshots of familiar, humorous, and relatable events, Veeder did not shy away from the toughest challenges that marked his life. She chose to share with readers her experiences with infertility and cancer.
It’s also important to write about the “hard stuff,” she said, in the hope that readers facing similar challenges and living “in the middle of nowhere” would feel less alone in their struggle – “things I would like to read”.
“The cancer experience really knocked me on my ass. Hard. I had to take the biggest breath and ask for help,” she said.
The diagnosis came at “a crazy time for our family,” she recalls. Her husband had just been laid off and was starting a new business; she was recording an album—“which takes money”—and wasn’t feeling well; and the pandemic hit, she said. Their children were then 2 and 4 years old.
Veeder didn’t get the diagnosis she needed “almost too late,” she said.
Referred to a pulmonologist in Bismarck in February 2020, she was fortunate that the appointment was moved from June to May and the doctor sent her to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for the immediate removal of her a tumor in his airways. .
A demonstrably strong, dynamic and resilient woman, as a cancer patient she found it “hard to let people take care of her”.
During the ordeal, “I learned a lot more patience than anything else – being a sick parent sucks,” she said. “We just put one foot in front of the other – we took the small steps that get you to the next thing.”
She credits the extraordinary support of her family and community for getting through the tough times, she said. “I had the best possible result.”
Veeder’s latest album, “Playing Favorites,” is a compilation of the songs she grew up hearing and loving. They’re “old songs that make me feel nostalgic, songs that I was raised on and that influenced me,” she said. “It’s the only album I’ve done that doesn’t have songs I’ve written.”
“I wanted my dad’s voice on it,” she said. The yodel of her neighbor and the voice of her daughter, Edie, then 4 years old, are also there.
During the process of recording the album, she didn’t feel well, she recalls, and because of that “he became more precious to me”.
Veeder wrote her recently published book, “Prairie Princess,” six years before her first child was born, she said. The book, illustrated by North Dakota artist Daphne Johnson Clark, is written from the perspective of a little girl who acts as “the expert tour guide and guardian of the land she knows so well,” said Veeder said.
“(It) reminds us of what it is to be captivated and in charge of a place.”
Jessie Veeder, musician, author and columnist for the Forum Communications Company, will participate in a live blog event at 2 p.m. Wednesday, January 26 on the Grand Forks Herald website, www.grandforksherald.com.
Also on the Herald’s website, starting Wednesday, is a 20-minute video broadcast of an interview with Veeder, during which she performs two original songs.
During the Wednesday 2 p.m. live blog, available only to Forum Communications and Herald members and subscribers, Veeder will be available to interact with readers, who may write questions or comments to the artist. Questions can be sent to Sydney Mook, Editor, at email@example.com at any time before or during the event.
Among readers, Veeder is widely known for her weekly column, “Coming Home,” but her career as a singer-guitarist may not be as well-known. She performs throughout the region and at other venues, including the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.
Veeder’s new book, “Prairie Princess,” is available at select bookstores statewide and online at www.veederranch.com.