Weather Forecast


Shy, quiet girl blossoms into aspiring country singer

Jessica (Sharlow) Foley holds up her recently-completed CD, "Simple Things." The CDs are available at St. Croix Lanes and Pearson Florist in River Falls. 2 / 2

When she was growing up, Jessica (Sharlow) Foley spent long hours singing along to the radio.

"I never really watched TV," Foley said with a smile. "I would just be in my room with music on, singing along."

Foley, a 2007 River Falls High School graduate, has come a long way since childhood. She's gone from singing with the radio to singing in the studio. She hopes that one day soon, she will turn on the radio, and hear her own voice coming back to her.

"I don't really know what I'll do," Foley said. "I don't know if I'll scream with a big smile on my face, or if I'll cry or tell everyone to turn the radio on."

Foley recently completed her first CD, "Simple Things," using the stage name "Jessica Marie."

If life is a highway, Foley's road to a career in music has been a long one. She started singing when she was about three, according to her mother Jodi Sharlow.

Foley participated in choir in middle and high school and had a year of private voice lessons. She also attended classes through an International Modeling & Talent Agency (IMTA) school in Bloomington, Minn., starting in 2003.

"Everything just kind of started from there," Sharlow said.

One of Foley's coaches at the IMTA school put her in touch with a producer in California. In 2007 Sharlow recorded three songs for what is called a "demo" CD in the music industry. Later, Foley's mother-in-law met a woman at a State Bowling competition in 2009 whose husband works with the man who is now Foley's producer, Johnny Garcia, who is also the lead guitarist for country stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

"So she sent my demo CD down to him, and he wanted to get in touch with us," Foley said.

So Foley met and began working with Garcia in 2009. She received the final product at last on Wednesday, July 31.

One challenge Foley faced was learning to write lyrics. Although she'd written poetry before, Foley had never written a song before she started working with Garcia.

The hardest part of writing a song for Foley is also what she said she most enjoys about singing: the story.

"I think most people listen to music and like certain songs," Foley said, "because they kind of hit a place inside you that brings you back to a memory."

After finally hearing Foley's CD, Sharlow said, she is very proud -- not just because of the music itself, but because of another challenge her daugher has overcome.

"It's hard to believe that that's her singing," Sharlow said, "because she's always been so shy and quiet. It's different when she gets on stage to perform... It's pretty amazing to have somebody that shy be able to get up and do that and not have a problem."

Foley's CD is available at St. Croix Lanes and Pearson's Florist in River Falls. It is also available by contacting Sharlow at 715-497-5662 or

For more information, please see the Aug. 8 print edition of the River Falls Journal.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(715) 426-1048