Jes Hudak has an energy that is almost tangible, and that energy carries through to her music.
Hudak has always been driven. For years, the 29-year-old Saratoga Springs native has spent much of her time singing and writing songs. All her hard work won her a spot on Bravo’s newest show, “Platinum Hit,” hosted by the singer Jewel.
Jesse Champagne, who was friends with Hudak’s older brother and has watched her perform, has followed “Platinum Hits.”
“I’m not really that surprised [she made it]. She’s really driven and she’s really talented and she’s a beautiful girl,” Champagne said.
The show brought together 12 singers and songwriters to perform their work in front of head judge Kara DioGuardi and various guest judges, who provide feedback.
“The whole experience was absolutely amazing; just for my writing I was able to get feedback
from major, major people in the industry,” Hudak said.
Each episode featured a different type of competition where the contestants would have to develop and perform their songs.
Champagne remembered when Hudak was performing and making the rounds at the local scene.
“I felt like she was made to be onstage; she was so comfortable up there. That’s how she set herself apart from other local performers,” Champagne said.
But in “Platinum Hits” the competition was national.
They were competitors out to win the big prize.
The winner of the competition will receive a $100,000 cash prize, a publishing deal with Sony, BMI Songwriters’ The Writing Camp and a recording deal with RCA/Jive, according to the show’s website.
There are three more episodes set to air, although the filming is complete. The final outcome won’t be known until the last episode is aired.
Since the filming is over, Hudak is no longer living with the other contestants, but is back with her little dog, Scrappy, in Los Angeles. Contestants are not allowed to reveal who the winner is.
“I worked fine with everybody. It was mostly intense living and being around everybody,” she said.
She has lived in Los Angeles for the last four years because that is where the music scene is, she said.
But she said that she misses Saratoga Springs and her family on the East Coast. Hudak visited family last month and will return again at the end of August.
“I miss it. I’m a total East Coast girl; I just moved out here for the music,” Hudak said.
She wants to try to move back to the East Coast after she makes it big in the music industry and doesn’t need the Los Angeles music scene.
But she isn’t there yet.
Hudak graduated from Saratoga Springs High School in 2000, having already produced a CD titled “In There Somewhere.”
Michael McClosky had done a few gigs with Hudak while she was still in the area.
“Even when she was younger she was putting out CDs and she was putting out records,” McClosky said.
She would perform at Open Mic Night at Caffe Lena and other local venues.
“She’s definitely talented. We always thought that she was talented way back when. She’s a sweet girl,” he said.
After graduating, Hudak made another CD, titled “Tiny Dreams,” in 2002. She toured with Maroon 5 and Sheryl Crow, performing songs from that CD.
“It was unreal. The first tour that I worked with, Maroon 5, I was so young and green,” Hudak said. “And I was production assistant, so they would let me perform when there was an open slot.”
From there she toured with Enrique Iglesias as a supporting singer. Hudak also did all of the music to the 2009 23-minute film “Broken.”
“I think I talked to her on a Saturday morning, and in literally three days, she sent me a rough draft of her song,” the film producer, Minh Nguyen, said.
By the end of the week Hudak had sent a completely edited and finished copy of her song.
“I was literally blown away at how quickly she got to work and came up with a beautiful song,” Nguyen said.
The film was low-budget, so Hudak did the music for free. Nguyen paid her back in a way by producing the music video “Another Day.”
The song “Another Day” was part of a five-track recording, “National Holiday.”
Nguyen sent the video to a friend, who found it so powerful that she sent it to all the people in her office. Soon all the women had mascara running down their faces from crying at how powerful the video was, he said.
Nguyen said Hudak was excellent performing live as well.
“She’s so powerful when she sings — she grabs your heart and grabs your soul. I haven’t encountered that with too many musicians,” he said. “She is ready for the main stage. She is ready to perform in front of 100,000 people.”
Her style has changed a bit after being on “Platinum Hits.”
“Me as an artist, I’ve changed a lot,” she said. “Before I was playing uplifting piano music. Now I’m a little more darker and I’m letting the soul out a bit more.”
Since the end of filming Hudak has been constantly writing.
She is looking forward to putting out another record and eventually starting a nonprofit organization.
“It’s just really an extension of my goal of my music to move and inspire people,” Hudak said. “If you don’t give up, you can achieve your goals, if you believe in yourself.”
She hopes the nonprofit group will work with the downtown LA women’s center to stop domestic violence.
“Besides making another record and touring the world? That’s about it,” she said.