Jake Owen: And Baby Makes Three
Originally published in our April 22, 2013 issue featuring Jake on the cover.
Walking up to the cozy home of Jake and Lacey Owen, one can peer right into the family room window to witness Jake cradling his newborn baby girl, Pearl, with Lacey looking on blissfully. Catching the movement of an approaching visitor from the corner of his eye, Jake turns. He flashes his broad smile and hollers, “Come on in,” eager to show off his pride and joy.
Stylists, publicists, photographers and Jake’s beloved bulldog, Merle, are milling around the two-story abode, which is as welcoming as your favorite neighbor’s. The house is decorated in a style that could best be described as American West meets shabby chic. And, most surprisingly, Jake decorated it himself. He’s modestly humble about his impeccable taste, but Lacey implies that having him decorate their home was almost a necessity. “I burn food and I’m not good at decorating,” she says, laughing, “but I’ll jump in the water with my makeup on and I’ll get my boots muddy, and I’ll try anything. But I’m not a girly girl.”
One thing they have successfully collaborated on is their baby daughter, Olive Pearl, who was born on Thanksgiving Day 2012. “We’re lucky. We’re very lucky,” Jake says, smiling at Pearl. “First off, she was born healthy with 10 fingers and 10 toes. She’s beautiful, and she’s a happy baby.” That she is. The tiny little princess with a head full of dark hair and dark sparkling eyes coos contentedly at her parents, gurgling at the hands reaching to stroke her and barely whimpering when changing time comes.
And for such a young couple with their first baby, Jake and Lacey are surprisingly relaxed when it comes to parenthood. Jake has Pearl comfortably scooped in one arm while he retrieves a bottle of wine, then hands her off to Lacey, who rests her tiny daughter over her shoulder. Both appear to be old pros at child-rearing, which gives the impression that life hasn’t changed much in the Owen household since the smallest member’s arrival. But it has in some small ways. “I mean, it’s changed my life in the way I think about things and the way I approach my day-to-day. And when I used to wake up later, I don’t wake up that late anymore,” Jake says, laughing.
However, the year before Pearl’s birth held almost every life change imaginable. In April 2012, Jake proposed to Lacey during his hometown show in Vero Beach, Fla. A month later they were married there. Then on Thanksgiving Day, Olive Pearl made her debut. Jake also scored back-to-back chart-topping hits—“Alone With You” and “The One That Got Away”—which continued a winning streak that started in late 2011 with “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.” Sadly, he also lost one of the most influential people in his life—Pearl’s namesake. “We gave her the name Pearl because of my best friend, Susan Hart, whom we called ‘Pearl,’ because she was the most original individual I have ever met.” The same goes for her first name—Olive. It was chosen because of its rarity. Lacey explains, “We didn’t know an Olive. We wanted her to be uniquely her own person.”
While the tiniest Owen is still too young to have accomplished much more than rolling over or laughing, both Jake and Lacey are looking forward to watching their baby grow into the unique individual that her names inspire. “I look forward to letting her be her,” says Jake. “And help molding her into being who she wants to be. My parents were great and, obviously, I think I’ve done very well because they instilled a lot of great values and morals and ethics that I carried on in my life.” That said, there may also be a little more care paid to Pearl’s interests. Jake recalls a particular Christmas when his requests to Santa for a keyboard didn’t pay off. He grins, remembering, “My mom even says that still: ‘I remember you being a little 5-year-old kid and all you wanted was a keyboard. Your brother and everyone wanted a T-ball set and you wanted a keyboard.’ She remembers the next Christmas they got us a brand-new bike and a T-ball set and she said I looked kind of sad, so she asked, ‘What’s wrong, honey?’ And I said, ‘I guess I wasn’t a good boy this year. Santa didn’t bring me a keyboard.’” Jake never did get that keyboard, but he did eventually get a guitar. He also cuts Santa and “his elves” some slack, though—“I think if they had known how much I loved music, I would have started earlier in life.”
Looking at Pearl, you can’t help but see a perfect mash-up of her good-looking mother and father in her features. But what personality traits can the youngster hope to inherit from her parents? “His sense of humor, I hope,” says Lacey, beaming. “My mom, dad and brother have a great sense of humor and I feel like I got that from them,” Jake says. “She’s very lucky she’s in a home where she has someone like her mom and myself that love her to death and every day we try to make her laugh and make each other laugh.” They also hope that their daughter can find a love as special and deep as their own. Jake looks at his beautiful wife and says, “I hope Pearl sees the love her mom and I have for each other like I saw with my parents growing up, because it will make her realize that that’s available somewhere and to not settle for less. You don’t think about the reality of love, but if you grow up in a household where it’s evident and it’s there daily, for the duration of her life, she’ll have morals and self-esteem that she wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else because this is where it derives from.”
Another characteristic that Jake hopes his infant daughter will inherit is his fortitude. “I’ve had a lot of time to not only build my ideas and dreams, I’ve had a ride where it would go up a little bit and then it would plateau off and then go back down,” he says honestly. “As weird as it sounds, I’d much rather have that journey to the pinnacle of these goals, than just the straight up. Because at any point in an artist’s career, whether you’re Alabama or Garth Brooks, your career is going to fizzle and something new comes along. But being able to fall a little bit, brush it off, get back up—the bruises don’t hurt as much as when you fall from the top.”
No, it wasn’t exactly a meteoric rise to the top of the charts for Jake, but he’s definitely feeling the euphoria of his hard-earned and well-deserved success. He likens it to building a house. “It’s like you spent the last six or seven years just working on the foundation. And now someone hands you the keys and tells you you can move in. I feel like I just got to move in.”
From the looks of his surroundings—his career, home and its inhabitants—Jake has built himself a little Camelot. The young couple, who will soon celebrate their first anniversary, are more than husband and wife, they’re also friends, or as Lacey calls it, “We’re friends that get to make out when we want.”
This seemingly ideal life isn’t wasted on Jake. His gratitude, whether it’s for his musical success, happy marriage or beautiful baby girl, is evident and abundant. Thinking back to how Pearl’s arrival affected them, he modifies his comments. “It didn’t change our life,” he says thoughtfully. “It gave us an amazing addition to our life. We already had a pretty awesome life, and now it’s better.”