JMA nominations

Zoe Leunissen

ASHLAND A local aspiring music star has taken another step in the right direction.

Zoe Leunissen of Ashland has been nominated for three Josie Music Awards: Female Artist of the Year (13 through 17); Female Vocalist of the Year (13 through 17); and Entertainer of the Year (13 through 17). She and her family will attend the awards ceremony planned for Sept. 21 at the Celebrity Theater at Dollywood.

In their fifth year, the JMAs are awarded to independent artists, many of whom have built their careers through social media. It is the world’s largest awards program for independent artists, attracting competitors from across the globe.

Leunissen’s mother, Colleen Short, said artists’ names, songs and videos are submitted to JMA officials who, after months of research, announce nominees.

“We really did not expect it,” Short said. “Her manager wanted to do it just to get her in there because she just has one song.”

Leunissen said she performed live at a festival in Spring City, Tenn., this year, a welcome contrast to recording videos to post online or even singing in the area.

“It makes me feel better to sing in front of strangers rather than people I know,” she said.

Leunissen’s song “A Thing Called Life,” written by her producer, Spencer Breidenback, got a lot of attention. The 17 year old has more than 5,000 Instagram followers and the video to her song can be seen on her YouTube channel. She signed with White Lion Audio this year.

Short said her daughter will release another song, but they aren’t at liberty to say the name of the song or exactly when it will be released.

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