Family band

Wright State staff and couple lead a successful country-rock band

Youthful, talented and country-inspired all describe Wright State University staff members and couple Jamie and Chris Suttle, who have formed a successful group, the Jamie Suttle Band.

Jamie works in the Creative Arts Center Box Office, and Chris is the technology and communication coordinator for the College of Liberal Arts.

They met at an open-mic night in Bimini Bills in downtown Dayton in 2005 while they were in separate bands. Jamie’s friend and later bridesmaid pointed Chris out to Jamie saying that she “will be okay because she’ll marry a guy just like that,” in his torn-up jeans carrying a guitar case.

“We did not sing together. We both performed and struck up a conversation because of that,” Chris said. “She sang a Jewel song and I always had a crush on Jewel.”

Jamie Suttle with mic, Chris Suttle with guitar

Jamie and Chris Suttle, Wright State staff members who are also married, lead a successful country-rock group, the Jamie Suttle Band. (Photos by Erin Pence)

When Jamie performs, Chris said he notices “the way she instantly draws the attention of other people. A loud room will instantly shut up when she starts singing. She has some sort of it factor.”

The Suttles are a perfect match: a vocalist for a wife and a producer for a husband. Chris is like a teenager who tells funny jokes, is often sarcastic and has a cool concert energy while Jamie is confident, collected and ready to let her hair loose.

“Chris is very comfortable on stage. … Whatever it is, he has that,” Jamie said.

Originally from Kentucky, Jamie is a singer and songwriter and has been writing songs since she was 4. She sang in her church and in school talent shows, performing a Christina Aguilera song. She continued writing lyrics in the margins of her high school notebooks and now in her journals.

Chris grew up in Ohio and has been part of more than half a dozen bands.

Both Jamie and Chris attended Wright State; Jamie studied organizational communication, while Chris majored in mass communication.

The Jamie Suttle Band also includes drummer Aaron Farrier, bass player Nathan Warden and guitar player Tim Yanney.

Many Wright State staff, faculty and students have helped the band — from guest performing to assisting with video production. Students Alan Lewin, Joe Cook and Ryan McCoy contributed to the production of the band’s music videos, and Heather Barnhart, a mass communication major, runs the group’s social media accounts.

“We have so many incredibly talented kids. I was very happy and honored to be able to give them a space on the record,” Jamie said in an article in Wright State’s Guardian newspaper. “They were very excited and they’re very professional to work with.”

Jason Kaufman, assistant professor of theatre arts at Wright State, directed the Suttles’ music video for their latest single “Flame,” which was shot at the Wright Company airplane factory in Dayton.

Flame is about addiction, Jamie said. “It’s about that weakness that we have. Not everyone has a weakness that is visible … that place can be a dark place that no one wants light shed upon. It’s about facing that demon, and part of acknowledging those demons is facing them and acknowledging they’re there,” she said.

Jamie and Chris Suttle outside the Creative Arts Center

When they’re not performing Jamie Suttle works in the Creative Arts Center Box Office, and Chris Suttle is the technology and communication coordinator for the College of Liberal Arts.

Jamie likes to tell stories that encourage others in her songs. One of her favorite quotes is “I sing the words I don’t have the strength to say.” Her songs are inspired from life situations and people, including her husband.

The band’s songs come together by matching a sound to the feel of Jamie’s lyrics.

“I try to paint a picture of what each character in the story might be thinking or feeling or what the listener might be doing while hearing the song. I feel like this gives the other guys insight to the feel or mood of the song,” Jamie said. “I want my music to be something that can be felt from all angles and types of people.”

On the bands’ first song, “Burn Like Whiskey,” Jamie sang her lyrics and the band members came up with the musical pieces that night. “It was a magical moment,” she said.

Playing a mix of country and rock ‘n’ roll, the band formed in 2012 but has progressed slowly since the birth of the Suttles’ now 2-year-old daughter. They sometimes hold her during recording sessions when they cannot find a babysitter. Their other two children are big fans of their music.

Their song “Miss Adeline” incorporates a lot of raw and organic sounds like clapping and stomping from the band members.

“I want to bring the human aspect (into their songs), not just a bunch of computer-generated sounds,” Chris said. “We don’t want to mold ourselves to a specific genre of music. Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Jamie encourages band members to incorporate their own musical styles into the band’s songs. “I want the guys to be themselves and use the different genres that they bring,” Jamie said.

“For me, country music is who I am and who I will be,” Jamie said. “I wasn’t living in eastern Kentucky, but I couldn’t take it out of my voice, not that I wanted to, it was a part of me.”

She is inspired by Loretta Lynn and Etta Jones. “They wrote things that weren’t pretty. They were pioneers of writing about what people didn’t want to talk about but something that everyone feels,” said Jamie.

Jamie intentionally doesn’t swear in her lyrics because she’s aware of who is listening and singing along. Her children and young niece and nephew sing her songs word for word.

Jamie incorporated references to Johnny Cash, Jack Daniels and Jesus into her song “Cash, Jack and Jesus.” The song “encompasses being a real person who is a Christian and has flaws,” Jamie said. The song includes a variety of genres, music influences and beliefs.

The band performs once or twice a month in local venues. Band members often feel excited and inspired when on the stage.

“More than anything I feel lucky and privileged to be a part of Jamie’s life,” Chris said. “It’s so much fun to be able to make and perform music with your best friend.”

Jamie occasionally travels to Nashville to perform and send out media kits promoting the band. Chris plans to spend less time in his recording studio and traveling independently to meet with other musicians.

Future plans include a music video recording in December, continuing to release singles and performing live shows.

For more information, visit The Jamie Suttle Band page at or follow them on Facebook.

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