As a little girl growing up in the dark forests of Loxahatchee, Fla., Jesslee spent her days playing in the mud and catching tadpoles outside her home in a desperate attempt to ignore what was going on inside her home.

“I came from a physically and mentally abusive home because of my father,” the rising country artist tells Taste of Country quietly. “To see some of the things that he did to my mom. I mean, she was hit and punched and pushed. And then, he would tell me I would never amount to anything.”

Somewhere along the way, the dark-haired beauty with the powerful voice took all the hurt and the shame that she felt during so much of her youth and put it into her music, most notably within her empowering new single “Strong.”

“’Strong’ really is the concoction of the things I have gone through in my life,” explains Jesslee of the song exclusively premiering on Taste of Country and serving as the lead single off the Tuesday (March 16) release of her new EP 21 Jump Start. “For a long part of my life, I felt isolated and belittled and never felt like I was enough.”

But now she does.

And it was this strength that fans first were introduced to as Jesslee appeared on Season 14 of The Voice, quickly getting the attention of Kelly Clarkson and her coach Blake Shelton. Since then, Jesslee has not only been busy making a name for herself in country music, but also continuing to mend the hurt of her past.

“My mom is my most supportive angel,” the singer-songwriter sincerely says of her mom, who divorced her abusive husband when Jesslee was 13 years old. “She was the best mother. If you have never been in an abusive situation, you don’t know what that’s like. There were so many times we wanted to leave, but it was hard.”

But, it is a new day for Jesslee, both personally and professionally. She has overcome those moments where she hated her body and equally hated herself. She reconciled with her father shortly before his death. And now, she remains committed to telling her story through her music, music that has helped her rack up 35 million video views on Facebook over the past year.

“I’ve fallen in love with being strong, not just physically but mentally,” says Jesslee, who routinely goes into schools to speak of her experiences as part of her S.T.R.O.N.G. 501C program. “Telling yourself you are going to do something and the only person that is going to stop you is you? Well, that’s powerful. And if my story can help just one person realize that, I will have done what I wanted to do.”

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