Michigan born Jana Rae Kramer graduated from Rochester Adams High School in 2002 before she went on to chase both her Hollywood and her Nashville dreams.
She made her acting debut in the low-budget independent horror film Dead/Undead (2002). She also played a bartender at Alvin’s in The Passage (2003) and had a role in Blood Games (2003) shortly before moving to New York where she landed a bit part on the soap opera All My Children (2003). Jana then followed her dream to Los Angeles, California. Jana trained in “Scene Study” courses in acting with Stephen Black of The Talent Group.
Slowly, Jana landed parts in movies; Blue Demon (2004), Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005), Click (2006), Boxboarders! (2007), Bar Starz (2008), Prom Night (2008), The Poker Club (2008), Spring Breakdown (2009) and Laid To Rest (2009) while also making appearances on TV shows; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2006), CSI: NY (2006), Friday Night Lights (2007-2008), Grey’s Anatomy (2006), 90210 (2008-2009), Private Practice (2009), Entourage (2009) and One Tree Hill (2009-2012).
Jana always had a love for country music. Collaborating with a friend, Deanna Dozier, Jana formed a country side project called Moonshine. Production shut down on Friday Night Lights during the 2007 Hollywood writers’ strike. Moonshine received a call from the show Can You Duet (2008) whom was interested in casting them on their first season. Can You Duet is a duet-themed music competition reality based TV show in which contestants compete as part of a duo. She made the cut however Deanna did not. Not wanting to do the show without her friend, Jana left during the next episode.
Musically, her first big break came with One Tree Hill. The show’s producers wrote her musical talents into her character, Alex Dupre. Jana moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be closer to the filming of One Tree Hill and to help her in pursuing a career in country music. Jana released four songs on the show; Whiskey, I Won’t Give Up, Why Ya’ Wanna and What I Love About Your Love. Jana would end up releasing these songs later on her debut album. She set up showcases with all of the labels in town and garnered the attention of John Esposito, the head of Warner Nashville.
In February 2011, Jana signed a recording contract with Elektra Records. Scott Hendricks (famed producer for Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Trace Adkins, Faith Hill, John Michael Montgomery and Blake Shelton, as well as many others) produced the majority of the album. Jana released I Won’t Give Up and Whiskey as singles through iTunes while working on her debut album. Both of these songs placed in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart on digital sales alone. Jana was also asked to record her version of the Deniece Williams classic Let’s Hear It For The Boy to be included on the soundtrack for the Footloose (2011) remake.
On January 16th, 2012 Jana released her official debut single, Why Ya’ Wanna. The song peaked at number 3 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and 52 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart with sales of more than 730,000. She released her debut Self-Titled album through Elektra Nashville on June 5th, 2012. The album hit number 4 on the Country Albums chart and 19 on the US Billboard 200.
Why Ya’ Wanna became a Top 5, gold-certified hit selling over one million to date and went on to break Taylor Swift’s record on the MEDIABASE Country singles chart in October 2012. Whiskey, her second single, has also had strong sales selling over 150,000 digital copies to date. Including a third single, I Hope It Rains, Jana has had over 1.4 million tracks sold to date making her the most digital singles sold from a debut female in the past 5 years!
Jana received three ACM (American Country Award) nominations last year, and won the 2013 ACM for New Female Vocalist of the year. She is the highest charting female debut in Country Aircheck History which was previously held by Taylor Swift. She was the only female selected for CRS (Country Radio Seminar) New Faces 2013.
Jana continues to act and has recently starred in two movies; Approaching Midnight (2013) and Heart of the Country (2013). She also filmed a commercial for Nationwide Insurance and sings the jingle: “Nationwide is on your side”.
In September 2013, Jana started work on her second album. She is currently on the road headlining the “Country Deep Tour presented by AT&T U-verse”, which made a pit stop at the Crofoot in Pontiac, Michigan on February 27th, 2014.
Contributing photographer Thom Seling was on hand at the Crofoot to catch her act in front of a near sold-out crowd.
More photos can be seen at Thom’s Facebook page: