Jamie Lynn Spears, the former Nickelodeon child star and younger sister of pop princess Britney Spears, made her Louisiana concert debut as a country singer-songwriter Friday night at the Texas Club.
More than 1,000 people turned out to catch a rising star, including the Kentwood native’s fiancé, Jamie Watson, her mom, Lynne, and one of the singer’s Nashville, Tenn., co-writers, Liz Rose.
Hammond resident Spears, 22, spent the past five years out of the spotlight raising her daughter, Maddie. Her Baton Rouge performance, which followed a Thursday show in Little Rock, Ark., was the fifth concert of her career.
In contrast to her sister Britney’s massive arena productions, Spears kept it simple at the Texas Club. She emphasized songs. The singer and her four-man band from Nashville performed 14 of them in an hourlong show.
Spears’ onstage performance is in the development stage. She even apologized for not having more songs to play. But what better place to get your feet wet than back home in Louisiana?
Despite the short set, Spears unveiled the singing and songwriting talents she’s been nurturing for years.
Singing in an undisguised Southern accent and with a pleasing voice loaded with sincerity, she performed strong and varied original compositions from her growing repertoire. She’s got room to grow, but more importantly, she’s growing from a soulful place.
Spears told her supportive audience Friday that sad songs mean more to her than happy songs.
“It feels so good to be home,” she said at the show’s 10:35 p.m. start. “This whole show is going to be me telling y’all where I’m at and where I’ve been.”
Spears introduced every song, including the nonoriginal material that fleshed out the show. Looking confident and rather “Duck Dynasty” in her customized camouflage top, she kicked it off with a swaggering Southern rocker, “Shotgun Wedding.”
After starting “Prettiest Girl in the Trailer Park,” she stopped singing and turned to her band. “Hang on,” she said. “Start over. I messed up the words.” The restart was no big deal. The song turned out to be a sly, Southern-fried charmer about making it through challenges.
Another positive message filled the mid-tempo, pop-oriented “Lift.” Turning serious, however, Spears asked the audience to not give her a hard time if she cried during “Big Bad World.”
In the twanging country of “Louisiana Bound,” the singer mentioned Mardi Gras and “a little town called Kentwood. That’s where I want to be.”
Spears showed excellent taste in the songs by others she chose to perform. She got “The Highway” from Holly Williams, a talented member of another famous musical family. Williams is the daughter of Hank Williams Jr. and granddaughter of Hank Williams Sr.
Spears put all of the longing necessary into “The Highway,” a beautiful song about the traveling musician’s life. The crowd, most of which probably hadn’t heard “The Highway” before, cheered when Spears reached into her higher register for its emotional peaks.
“I wish I had more songs to sing tonight,” Spears said prior to a touching performance of the final selection of the night, “How Could I Want More.”
Adding that the song is about her fiancé, Jamie Watson of Hammond, she dedicated “How Could I Want More” to him. Spears and her mother bought a Liancarlo wedding gown Monday at I Do Bridal Couture on Perkins Road.
No doubt the wedding, which Spears recently told The Advocate would take place this summer, will be a special occasion, just as her Texas Club show was.