Self-taught songwriter happy with road she's taken

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Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas play the Rumba Cafe Friday, April 25. Hey Hercules opens. Tickets are $8. Visit columbusrumbacafe.com.

Jessica Hernandez, who heads up the Detroit garage-soul outfit Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, admits that when she was getting her start writing songs, she didn't know what she was doing.

She also insists -- and makes a good case for it -- that this was a good thing.

Hernandez grew up in Detroit, her mother a Detroiter herself and her father a native Cuban. Both parents were music lovers and "exposed me to a wide variety of stuff," from Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Yes and Elton John (dad) to The Cure, The B-52's and Joy Division (mom). Additionally, her grandparents grew up in Detroit, from the early years through the height of Motown.

"They would tell me how all these classic Motown bands -- The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Temptations -- would play at their high school," Hernandez said, adding she has never played a high school prom gig.

As a musician and songwriter, Hernandez is self-taught. She had no frame of reference for how things were done, and a wide variety of musical influences from which to draw inspiration.

"I just went wherever I felt was right, and I was definitely all over the place. Every song had a different feel. I didn't know what I was doing."

The outcome?

"That's the style I've developed. Now you find all of those influences in every song," she said.

A desire to have folks hear those songs led first to finding friends and friends of friends within the Detroit music scene who were willing to share not just this musical amalgam but also the life of an itinerant rock band. Once this was accomplished (The Deltas include some of Detroit's finest jazz, blues and rock players), heading out on the road became the next logical step.

"Touring is what gets your songs out there. The way I want to do it -- organic -- is to take it to the people, meet people, even if there's only five that come to hear you."

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