About Jennifer McGill

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From a small town life in Texas to a Disney World life lived on camera in front of the whole world, then to Europe, to New York City, to Hawaii, to Nashville…

Below are the highlights of my roller coaster life, plus I left you some “landmarks” along the way. Enjoy the ride!

Born To Entertain

Born To Entertain2

I could sing before I could read!  My mother had a cassette tape boasting a 2 year old Jennifer singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, acapella, on pitch!  However, I lived a quiet little life in Denison, Texas, spending most of my time in the woods fighting trees with my favorite plastic sword or playing “princesses” with my best friend down the street.  Music became more important when I was 7, watching Stephany Samone belt out “Stand By Your Man” and win the Miss Texas Pageant.  While watching that, I turned from the TV and said, “Mommy, I want one of those shiny crowns!”

My dance teacher helped us find a pageant to enter and offered to teach me a dance routine for the talent competition, but my mother said I would be singing instead.  My dance teacher had never heard me sing, yet judging from the years of weak ballet technique and erratic baton twirling she’d seen me produce…We wouldn’t have faulted her if she’d been a bit worried that my singing wouldn’t be any better!

It was Christmas time, so Mom taught me “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”…and I won the talent competition!  Once that tiny crown touched my head, I was hooked!  For the next 3 years, my mother entered me in over 25 pageants and I racked up over 50 trophies and 25 crowns.

*LIFE LANDMARK It didn’t take long for me to strategize my competitive excellence around the fact that the louder and higher I sang (with a big smile), the more impressed everyone was that such a sweet tiny thing could make that much noise!  I became a vocal gladiator!

Being A Mouseketeer

During the taping of the pilot episodes, Jennifer received one of only 2 Mickey Awards handed out to actual Mouseketeers!

My competitive training paid off when I got the attention of a children’s agent who booked me an audition for The Disney Channel’s New Mickey Mouse Club.  After a whirlwind of auditions, I became a professional entertainer at age 10 when I was cast as the 2nd youngest “Mouseketeer” for the new series, to be taped at MGM Studios in Orlando, FL.  My days of living quietly in a small town were over, and I was literally going to Disney World at least 5 days a week!

For the next six and a half years, I recorded songs, memorized and rehearsed scripts, lyrics, and dance moves, had wardrobe fittings, went through hair and make-up, taped music videos and commercials, and spent hours blocking and taping comedic and musical performances in front of a life studio audience, for a show that aired 5 episodes a week!  The show even released an album, MMC, which I promoted on tour as a soloist in America, Germany, Scotland, England, and Iceland.  On top of that, I was interviewed by hundreds of newspapers, radio stations, TV shows, and fans across America…and I went to school full time!

From my 1988 journal:  “I have rehearsed all day and I’m pooped!  I never thought I could dance, sing, hurt, sweat, walk, run, and work so hard! It was a very busy day.”  However, I thrived on the heavy workload.  I got to meet and perform with amazing artists including Boyz II Men, Celine Dion, New Kids On The Block, Brian McKnight, Alanis Morissette, TLC, Vanessa Williams, and Michael Jackson!

*LIFE LANDMARK:  I loved being a Mouseketeer WAY more than winning crowns!  Though I thrived in the atmosphere of production, the reality was that I was an underage, Disney ID carrying, Silver Pass holding employee of The Walt Disney Company, paid to be excellent at what I did, and paid to maintain high standards of personal excellence when I was off the set as well!  I mean, seriously, I sang for former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton!  I learned very early about responsibility, professionalism, and how to smile under the pressure of both!

My Roaring 20s

Roaring 20s

After graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater, I was ready to get back to work!  I tested out the recording artist waters, but found that record labels had no place for me during the “Bubble Gum Pop” trend.  Fellow Mouseketeers such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, JC Chasez, and Justin Timberlake were already surfing that wave, so, unsure of what my career looked like for the first time in 10 years, I set out to find my place in the entertainment world.  Returning to Walt Disney World, I was honored to sing with the a cappella group “American VYBE” (musically directed by Deke Sharon, vocal arranger for the movies Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2 and NBC’s The Sing-Off), in The Animal Kingdom’s “Tarzan Rocks!”, as well as to coach choral groups for “Disney’s Magic Music Days”.  I also toured America, singing for the opening of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium, the opening of the Gaylord Texan, presidential inaugural balls, casinos, and Hawaiian cruise ships, as well as traveling the world to sing with cover bands and the Michael Jackson tribute show “The Ultimate Thriller”.

*LIFE LANDMARK:  Though I also found contentment in writing and recording songs, as well as privately coaching students in singing and acting (Chelsea Turbin from Broadway’s American Idiot tour), I couldn’t help but feel lost in a world that told me I “should” be famous.  The type of excellence the world wanted me to achieve, as well as the worldly excellence with which I pressured myself, seemed completely unattainable.  I desired peace of mind and a heart that could love me just as I was.  I had to stop punishing myself for things I couldn’t control…There was a hole in my heart and I knew my life needed a change!

New Decade, New Me

New Decade New Me

By age 30, I had more than arrived at a place of exasperation as the zillionth person asked me, “Why aren’t YOU famous?”  Many of my young friends and co-Mouseketeers went on to become celebrities, including Keri Russell and Ryan Gosling the acting world.  I will always be so happy for any former Mouseketeer’s accomplishments and successes, but for many years, I was wrestling with the issue that I didn’t join them along the road to fame.  To have been in the limelight for so many years, to have been trained in live performance, TV productions, media, singing, dancing, acting (to even have a degree in drama!), having performed for the president and toured the world entertaining thousands, doing what I love…why wasn’t it enough for me?  Why did the world’s demand for me to measure up to celebrity matter so much? What was this hole in my heart that nothing would fill?

Long story short, one day I knelt down and opened my heart to Jesus.  Having tried pretty much every secular singing job I could think of, I prayed, “I want a job where I can sing for you, glorify you, and get closer to you!”  Less than a month later, I was hired as a worship leader and music coordinator for a church in Florida, as well as a dramatic and musical minister at Trinity Broadcast Network’s The Holy Land Experience.  I spent the next 3 years at an entirely new level of performance training!  Everything I memorized, rehearsed, and presented was not only for the glory of God and the spreading of His gospel, but every step of production was prayed over, meditated on, and executed in the name of Jesus, with His strength and power!  I grew in my knowledge of the Bible, in the strength of The Holy Spirit, and in my love for Christ.  I learned how to pray for others, and how to work together as a unified team of performers to do so much more than just entertain.  I can now lead people to Christ in worship!

Not only have I appeared as a soloist on TBN’s Praise The Lord!, but with “Namesake”, I recorded a worship album Let Your Rain Fall, available on iTunes, as well as sang with anointed worship artists including Donnie McClurken, Martha Munizzi, Carman, and Michael W. Smith.  I even had the pleasure of singing at Dr. Timothy Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and being the vocal coach for Martha Munizzi (Grammy nominated, Dove/Stellar Award winning international gospel recording artist) on her album Make It Loud!

*LIFE LANDMARK:  The most beautiful thing I experienced with God during this time was the emptiness being removed from my heart.  I gave Jesus my full heart, including all the pieces that struggled with my identity and that were beaten down by my issues with fame.  Once I gave up the dream of becoming famous, of needing that level of acknowledgement to tell me that I have a worthwhile purpose, God broke the curse of fame over my life!  He defeated the LIES I was believing about myself, He dissolved the EXCUSES I was hiding behind to avoid my current situations, and He healed my wounds from all the DISTRACTIONS that had taken me off course from my purpose!  What’s so cool is that God gave right back to me the opportunities to sing, dance, act, write songs, teach others, and even travel, but the difference was that Jesus became the center of my life and the validator of my purpose!  The hole in my heart was gone!

Nashville

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I had no idea Nashville was more than a country music town, so I was super confused the first time God told me to move here! 5+ years later, I am still in awe of God’s beautiful AND musical plan for my life in Nashvile!  I became a Vocal Producer on a multitude of projects, including recent EPs from Christian tween pop group The Rubyz, and Christian artist/actress Abigail Duhon (K5 /iShine Ministries), for whom I have also written, vocal coached, and trained for live performances/interviews.  I recorded a duet with Jason Bare on his album Love Is Alive, and I am the featured artist on the 2015 finale theme song of A&E’s Emmy award-winning show Intervention.  I became Creative Director for Lifetime Impact Group, a company which creates and promotes events which encourage and fortify relationships between parents and their children, as well as equips people of all ages to seek, love and glorify God in their everyday lives.  I continued my path as a worship leader, vocal arranger, and songwriter for many artists nationwide.  I created my own company and released my own independent Pop/Gospel EPs through iTunes.  I am starting the next chapter of my career as a speaker, blogger, vlogger, and scriptwriter who uses my own roller coaster life experiences to connect to the lost as well as the found in Christ, and who loves to be a cheerleader on anyone’s quest for purpose and excellence!  My life is full and that fullness is credited entirely to Christ’s influence on my life!

*LIFE LANDMARK:   No matter what opportunities or obstacles may come my way, I face everything with God’s supernatural strength because I now know who I am in Christ. My new identity fuels me to strive to glorify God by being excellent with what He gives me, one day at a time!

Unbreakable & Living Fearless

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In 2015, God brought me to a spiritual place of being whole in Christ, no matter what my career or dating life looked like…and then He brought me to a career upgrade and my future husband! This year, I am a newlywed who has two touring live event scripts under her belt (BRAVEHEARTED GIRLS & FREEDOM FIGHTERS), a full length solo album dropping this summer (UNBREAKABLE), and a book about LIVING FEARLESS coming soon! I could not have come this far without God strengthening me to live like I’m unbreakable and to live fearless through a new season of firsts! I am a grateful Warrior Princess of The King of All Kings, I have an amazing husband/best friend, an incredible production team, and cherished friends and family who love me through all my ups and downs!

*LIFE LANDMARK:   As long as there is breath in your body, you are never past your prime of purpose! There was a time not so long ago that I would not have believed I could accomplish what I have in recent months…I’m glad God proved me wrong! God still knows best, which I will always believe!

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