Nina June Opens American Songwriter’s September/October Issue as Guest Editor

Written by Nina June

Videos by American Songwriter

The most gifted people I know seem to have a flawless talent for questioning themselves. 

It fascinates me. We are often told that we have to work on our insecurities if we want to pursue personal growth. But what if our insecurities and doubts bring out the best in us? What if the magic lies in the inconvenient search for a state of confidence that we might never find? 

Some of the artists that inspired me at a young age, such as Tracy Chapman, Jewel, Ane Brun, and Regina Spektor, didn’t seem to have themselves or their lives together when creating some of their best work. Their transparency about that spoke to me as a young girl, becoming a synonym for wisdom. What if these women had pretended to have all the answers and confidence in the world? What lessons would I have learned as a young woman and musician? My curiosity and fascination for the stories these artists tell lie in their not knowing. As a listener, I want to recognize their doubts and questions rather than find answers. Could we say that confidence is overrated in the pondering process of creativity? 

With every song I write, every record or EP released, I hope to become a more confident version of myself. At the start, I’m always slightly disappointed to find that familiar stone in my stomach and the bleak voice that tells me that the songs I wrote in the past were merely happy accidents. Then the process of postponing starts, elegantly dancing around the scary promise of committing myself to a new project. Ultimately, the curiosity and desire to grow will win, but it’s always a close call. Maybe that place right on the edge of insecurity and curiosity is not such a silly place to wander when starting a new creative journey. To me, songwriting is questioning life out loud. 

I’m at the doorstep of entering a new chapter in my life. At the moment of writing this, I’m heavily pregnant, awaiting the arrival of my first child. I’m creating something more ingenious and profound than I’ve ever done before. I have so many questions about the year that lies ahead, questions that I can’t possibly answer at this moment. I try not to let them disturb me. Questions open doors where answers close them. Questions mean room to explore. Room to explore means growth. Time and growth won’t take away your questions and doubts—thank God they don’t. They will teach you to recognize them as signs on a lifelong journey of discovering truth and beauty. 

Nina June

Guest Editor

Photo by Marc Haers

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