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Behind the Band: Alexandria Songwriter Shares His Musical Journey – Alexandria Echo Press

Editor’s note: The following story is part of an occasional series, Behind the Band, which highlights musical acts performing in the Douglas County area.

ALEXANDRIA — Do the things that scare you.

Josie Seela, formerly known as Josie Nelson before her marriage last July, has lived by these words since her first musical performance at just 9 years old.

Seela says, “Music is universal. It brings people together. There’s something so special about it, it can make you feel so many different things.”

That’s why she loves music, in particular, sharing music. She says she would be sad if she didn’t play. It would be a waste not to bring people together.

Seela’s musical journey began when she was 8 years old. Since then, she’s performed to huge audiences, released an album at age 13, written over 100 songs, and garnered nearly 40,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel – a documentation of her musical evolution.

The music won her connections and introduced her to friends. It gave her the courage to come out of her shell and develop life skills.

She has always loved music. Especially singing. As a child, she performed interpretations of songs by Taylor Swift and Colbie Caillat. But his shyness kept his voice behind closed doors.

At 8, she got her first guitar. He launched his exploration of music and became a companion for his voice, boosting his confidence.

“Once I was able to sing and play guitar and write my own music, it was kind of the trifecta that made me realize how special music was,” Seela said.

She learned a few songs and performed them for her parents. Eventually, she wanted to share music with whoever wanted to listen to it.

“I was starting to get more confident. And I just felt this urge, like if I had to do this, I had to play for a few more people,” Seela said.

At almost 9 years old, she gave her first performance in front of a large crowd at the Polk County Fair talent show in Fertile.

The crowd was a little larger than Seela expected. But, she faced her fears and won, earning her a spot on the Minnesota State Fair Talent Show. She continued to progress through the qualifying rounds and advanced to the final at the fair’s grand stand.

Backstage before the show, her nerves brought her to tears. This would be her fourth performance and the crowd was significantly larger than that of the county fair.

“But I just really wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. It’s something I never imagined I could do,” she said.

Seela faced her fears again and again this week and knew she could do it again. She put one foot in front of the other and stepped out to face the audience in the grandstand. She sang “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat. In the video posted on Youtube, cheers from the crowd ring out as she is introduced. She adjusts her mic, looks her guitar up and down, and begins. When she hits the chorus, the crowd starts cheering and clapping, just about 10 seconds into the song.

“It was really an accomplishment that kind of launched me into my stage era…I loved that feeling of doing something that scared me,” Seela said.

News of his fair performances traveled and he was offered a paid gig at Carlos Creek Winery. Today, she can’t even estimate how many times it has happened.

Josie Nelson performs at Carlos Creek Winery north of Alexandria.

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“I’ve always wanted to share what I create and that’s why I started doing it (performing) and that’s why I still do,” Seela said. “I just like sharing music with the community rather than keeping it to myself.”

One of her most memorable performances was through the Make-A-Wish Foundation when she surprised a young girl from the Twin Cities diagnosed with leukemia. Her main wish was to see Taylor Swift, but she was also a fan of Seela’s Youtube channel, so she got the best of both worlds.

Seela surprised the girl from her school with a song dedicated to her, “Isabel’s Song”. Afterwards, she once again surprised the young girl by letting her know that she would also be seeing Swift in concert.

Seela started writing her own music around the same time she picked up the guitar. Her wandering mind and wild imagination guided her to dreamily jot down “different rhymes and interesting lines” when she should have been concentrating on school.

“I’m inspired by life events, of course,” she said. “But I’m such a dreamer. I’ve always been a dreamer, I got in trouble for that in elementary school, because I could never pay attention.

Seela said that once she started singing and playing guitar, the transition to songwriting was natural.

“I started writing because I had so many ideas,” Seela said. “People laughed when I was younger because I was writing songs at 12 about really deep emotional breakdowns.”

People wondered how she was able to write about complex topics that she obviously hadn’t tackled at such a young age.

“I would say, ‘Oh, I just imagined. “”

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Josie Nelson performs at a wedding in Minneapolis in July 2018.

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Seela has been posting her originals and cover songs on YouTube since she was 9 years old.

“I have songs from all eras. Songs that document special times or tough times and the emotions you go through at those ages,” she said. “It’s fun to look back and see not only how far my songwriting has progressed , but also how far I have progressed.

After collaborating with another YouTuber, she received some recognition which led to her having a manager based in Los Angeles and a publishing contract with SQE.

At 13, Seela released her first album, “Josie Nelson – EP”.

After a few years, the company dissolved and so did his contract. While she said she wouldn’t change anything and was grateful for the opportunity, she was relieved to be released from the music industry.

“At that time, I was about to graduate from high school and I was kind of at a crossroads,” Seela said.

She knew she had to either pursue music full-time or commit to going to college.

“I wanted to go to school. I knew I wanted to be a doctor and I wanted to keep music as a passion and not force it to become a career,” Seela added.

Seela never hesitated to want to become a doctor. She always wanted to do something meaningful. To make a positive difference. But the music will always be there.

“I’m so happy with my current situation with music. I’m so grateful for all the experiences I’ve had because they’ve really given me insight into the music industry, and how great it is. It’s amazing, but also how demanding and difficult it is to be a musician,” she said. “People don’t realize how exhausting it can be and how exhausting it can be. How uncertain it can be. That’s why I really liked certainty and the straighter path than medicine m ‘provided.”

“(Music) is so special to me. That’s why I still do so many performances and that’s why I’m doing this album,” she said. “I don’t want the music to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life.”

His new album, “All in Due Time”, is a collection of songs from the past 10 years. She spent her freshman year in medical school working on the album with producer Danny O’Brien of Minneapolis. She said the creative outing gave her a break from the strains of studying.

One of the songs on the album, “Season of Not Knowing”, wrote Seela during her freshman year at Concordia College in Moorhead. It illustrates the nervousness that people feel in their late teens and early twenties when they are on the cusp of adulthood. She says lyrically, it’s one of her favorite songs she wrote because she was articulating exactly how she felt at the time.

“There’s so much expectation of young adulthood and how amazing it’s supposed to be,” Seela said. “You’re supposed to be wild and have a good time. But you’re also supposed to plan your whole life and make sure you understand everything perfectly. I felt a little overwhelmed. I looked around at all my friends, and they were in similar positions, so this song was born out of those emotions and experiences.”

“Music has done so much for me…it has given me so many unique opportunities,” Seela said. “I 100% believe that I wouldn’t have the same personality I have today without music, because music brought me out of my shell and taught me how to talk to people, entertain a crowd, not being afraid to be myself and show who I am.”

In ten years, Seela hopes to practice medicine with her husband – also a medical student – ​​raising their children and still sharing his music.

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Josie Nelson plays guitar at home last May.

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Josie Nelson plays guitar at 22 Northmen Brewing Company north of Alexandria.

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