Arts & Entertainment

From Hearts Songs to Victory Music - South Plainfield's Jill Pavel is Working to Make Artists Dreams Come True

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Jill Pavel (center) with country artist Pearl Clarkin, one of the original Highway Women, and country artist Whisper Whitlock.
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Jill Pavel with J.T. Cooper
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Cory Singer and Jill Pavel at 3rd Annual SSG Jorge Oliveria Memorial Run on Aug. 26 at the VFW Post 1302 in Kearny, NJ
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SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Jill Pavel is dedicated to supporting our country’s veterans while also helping to make the dreams of up-and-coming singers and songwriters come true. 

A resident of South Plainfield, Pavel runs the charitable volunteer record label Heart Songs for Veterans and is also the owner of two indie labels, Heart Song Records and Victory Music Buzz, while also serving as co-owner of an online music magazine and the producer and host of a segmented radio show. 

Pavel moved to South Plainfield in 2005 and operated a personal training studio in the borough for more than a decade.  Following Hurricane Irene, Pavel looked to start on a new path, putting her marketing and public relations experience and desire to be more philanthropic to work as a non-profit event planner.

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“I ran fundraising events and that is how I became interested in doing philanthropic work with the veterans,” said Pavel, “Working with our veterans was very organic for me.”

Then, in October 2013, around the same time her son Cory Singer won Bravo’s TV’s reality competition The Kandi Factory and his music career began to take off, Pavel secured a job with the Philadelphia-based music distribution company BlingNot Media.  “Owner Kevon Glickman gave me my start,” Pavel said, adding that things just took off from there.

“I just sort of threw myself on that train. I worked as a contractor and started doing talent scouting and began using my marking and public relations background to work with artists,” she said. “Somewhere, along the way, I didn't even realize I started a label.”

Pavel’s first label, Heart Songs for Veterans (http://www.heartsongsforveterans.org), was established in late 2013 and is a charitable digital platform through which artists of all genres, including retired and active military artists, donate digital royalties from new singles to various veteran organizations. Run by a team of volunteers, the label works directly with the charities and all funding goes directly to through the respective organization’s 501c (3).

“It all started with an idea. Instead of paying the artist the royalties why not donate them to a specific cause. In such a short time, we have worked with so many organizations and have been responsible for helping to raise a lot of money,” Pavel said, adding that aside from monies raised through song downloads, Heart Songs for Veterans, which is run by a team of volunteers, has been involved with benefits, prayer vigils, concerts, and even 5Ks.

“We have done a lot of great work in the veteran’s community and I couldn't do all this alone,” she said, commending her team that includes charity director Kenna Hunter, the wife of a combat wounded veteran; marketing director Charlotte Shockey; veterans J.T. Cooper and Bert Murray; and many others. 

“I get called the ‘rock star,’ but the reality is no one is a rock star on their own; I have so many people supporting me,” said Pavel.

For Pavel, the events of September 11, 2011 added the spark to her desire to give back and be more philanthropic. “9/11 was a big turning point in my life; before that, I celebrated Memorial Day with hot dogs and hamburgers but the events of that day changed everything. I stopped being an ignorant American and started to stand up and take notice,” she said, adding that the events leading up and immediately following 9/11 are what eventually led to Heart Songs for Veterans.

"I had such a sense of gratitude for all these amazing men and women willing to put their lives on the line and enlist so that we never have to go through something like that again. It really changed how I viewed things and I wanted to give back in some way,” she said. “I love music, I love my veterans and I found a way to combine them together and do something good. It all sort of began to fall into place.”

In addition to the charitable label, Pavel went on to launch Heart Song Records (http://heartsongsrecords.com), a Nashville & New Jersey-based indie label that works with artists from different genres of music, including country, indie, indie rock, and more. Started in 2014, the label features Cory Singer along with indie artist Rob Carona, country artists Whisper Whitlock and Jake Arch, indie-pop artist Shaniah Paige, and many others. She credits her vice president, Richard Larntz, with helping to keep the label moving forward as progressively as it has in the last year. 

Then, this past August, Pavel added a third label to her belt, purchasing the Dallas-based label Victory Music Buzz (http://www.victorymusic.buzz) and The Highway Women (http://www.highwaywomen.com). Victory Music Buzz established by Dallas businessman and Victoria Communications owner Jimmy Parman who, in 2015, also founded group The Highway Women and launched several artists on the all-female touring roster. Pavel working as a consultant on the project and Parman wanted to put the project in her hands for re-development. 

“Jimmy offered me the label a few months ago; he is my biggest cheerleader in this industry and I have a lot of respect for him. He has successfully put his thumb print on the map with his business endeavors and it is gratifying to know that he has trust in my ability to move his label progressively forward,” Pavel said.

The Victory Music Buzz label, according to Pavel, is similar to the Heart Songs label with a mission to develop and launch new artists, however, Victory’s primarily focus in the indie, rock, and hip hop genres.

“My goal in the next year is to separate the genres, keep country on Heart Songs and indie, rock, pop and hip hop on Victory,” she said. “It’s a natural progression of growth for my labels and it makes sense to ultimately separate the music genres from a marketing standpoint.  I find the country music market is very different than pop, rock and hip hop.”

Along with record labels, Pavel also co-owns Music Update Central (http://www.musicupdatecentral.com), an independent online music magazine offering indie artists free promotions, reviews and features that was started in 2014 by then 12-year-old Trevor Perkins of Tabor, IA. Pavel became Trevor’s mentor and co-owner of the magazine the following year. Additionally, she produces and hosts Project Lips (www.ProjectLips.com), a segmented radio and Internet music variety show broadcast throughout United States and in New Zealand and Australia.

“We spotlight a veteran charity each week and give guest speakers a platform as well as highlight music artists. There is a talk segment and we honor a hero each week,” said Pavel. “It’s not too heavy; we don’t get into politics, but we talk about fun stuff and serious stuff. It’s all about making our veterans, service members and their families feel important.”

According to Pavel, the music industry is tough and, in the end, it’s not about making money but about helping and fulfilling dreams. “It makes me feel better to be doing something positive in my life; with the veteran’s label, I feel like I am giving back and with the record labels. I love being a part of an artist’s artistic creation…and then there we are months later in a studio getting to see that artist recording what they created,” said Pavel.

For Pavel, it’s moments like the one Laura Rice, an artist on her Heart Songs Records label, had back in April 2017 that make being involved in the music industry worth it. At that time, Rice had the chance to sit in the studio of the Grand Ole Opry, her music airing on Nashville's WSFM, the most well known country radio station in the world.

“That is an amazing feeling, I get a lot of joy out of helping the artists grow in their career,” Pavel said, adding, “Any little thing you can do to help an independent artist is a major milestone. All these little things that maybe the major labels look at as small potatoes, in my opinion, are big things.”

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