Entertainment Music

Monday 19 August 2019

Jessica's hit-and-run coma taught her how to live

A WAKE-UP CALL: Jessica Smith wrapping up her recording at Windmill Lane studios
A WAKE-UP CALL: Jessica Smith wrapping up her recording at Windmill Lane studios
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Originally, Jessica Smith didn't want to be a singer. In fact, singing was only a hobby. Her heart was firmly set on being a nurse. "Then, unfortunately, I was in an accident when I was 14 - a hit-and-run."

It was only when Jessica thought that she wasn't going to have her voice ever again, she says, "It was the first time I realised how important my voice was to me."

What perhaps helped provide Jessica with her moment of truth was that she had just come out of a coma. Her memory of that consisted of, she recalls - as much as anyone can recall much of a coma - "weird dreams and stuff."

Did you dream of a car hitting you?

"No. I actually dreamt of my house. I was outside my house the whole time."

Was that because you really wanted to go home?

"I think so. I was always trying to wake up. I knew I wasn't supposed to be asleep, I suppose," she says. "That's the best way of putting it.

"When you're that age, you think nothing bad is ever going to happen to you," she continues, "and then that happened to me. I learned that life is short.

"It's scary, really, because it can be taken from you quite quickly. I have definitely tried to live every day the way that you should - which is without regret."

Jessica wrote a song - Little Happiness - a couple of years ago with her uncle Colin Smith about what happened to her.

"It's about forgiveness and moving on, letting it go," she explains, "because holding a grudge like that for your whole life is a pretty exhausting thing.

"It was really hard at times, because you think to yourself, 'If I just didn't go out that night...' And obviously, he's to blame. But I definitely put that to bed and forgave and moved on."

Jessica says after she emerged out of her prolonged state of deep unconsciousness due to her injury that she wanted to be a singer.

"The nurses were fantastic but it's not physically possible for me," she says referring to a career in nursing.

"So I just wanted to find a way that I could help people, because through the recovery and stuff, I found music a great help. And yes, I know that that is quite a clichéd thing to say, but I really did."

Jessica, who currently sports a distinctive Barney the Dinosaur-hued purple hairdo, can remember with utter clarity the first song she sang when she woke up in the hospital.

"It was the U2 and Mary J Blige version of One. And I was terrified that I wouldn't be able sing any more," says Jessica, whose cover of Drake's Hold On We're Going Home for Independent.ie's Windmill Lane Sessions was emotive in the extreme.

"I had my eyes closed because all the nurses were gathered around there in the room. And then when I was 17, 18, 19 and up until now," she adds, "that's when I really focused on writing."

What inspired her new single 50/50 was, she says (and she almost blushes when she says it), "a past relationship".

I ask Jessica is this not an example of her not letting go of the past.

"No. 50/50 for me is getting my closure on the whole thing, and realising what I was in."

And what was that?

"It was quite an emotionally destructive relationship," says Jessica. "To be honest, I called it 50/50 because it was 50pc he was going to treat me well, and 50pc that he was going to treat me not so well.

"Obviously, in every relationship, there were happy times and I wouldn't completely say it was awful - but it definitely wasn't for me. We just weren't right for each other at all."

To watch the full interview with Jessica Smith, plus two exclusive performances, see the Windmill Lane Sessions on Independent.ie

You can now also watch Independent.ie's Windmill Lane Sessions on TG4

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