Rancho Santa Fe native thriving as songwriter in Nashville


What happens when three hit country songwriters get together to write and record some brand new Christmas music? A fresh, big band sound that’s a cross between The Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald and Rosemary Clooney, of course.

Rancho Santa Fe native Jennifer Denmark, Emily Shackelton and Melissa Fuller affectionately call themselves the North Pole Patrol. Their debut single, “Naughty List,” recently shipped to radio.

Denmark is better known to locals as Jennifer Johnson, who attended the Ranch school from fourth grade to eighth, and then graduated from Torrey Pines High School in 1997. She moved to Nashville in 2007 to follow her dream to be a songwriter. She is currently enjoying that dream at Curb Records.

“We all love Christmas, and particularly Christmas music, but we noticed that modern Christmas songs just sound like pop songs,” said founding North Pole Patrol member Denmark. “When we think of Christmas music, the greats like ‘White Christmas’ and ‘The Christmas Song’ come to mind. Our goal was to create modern Christmas songs with throwback lyrics and melodies to create that timeless feel similar to the songs everyone has been singing along with for decades. I think we did that.”

“We also wanted to make the songs relatable to holiday traditions people actually practice,” Shackelton added. “Most people don’t roast chestnuts on an open fire, so we added catchy, sing-songy woo’s and ooh’s to sing along to while ‘Bakin’ Cookies.’”

“Naughty List” was written by Denmark, Fuller and Tim Jackson, and produced by Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer Chad Carlson (Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood, Jewel). Fans can add the single to their future Christmas collection at iTunes, Amazon, iHeartRadio, Spotify and other online outlets.

North Pole Patrol released a six-song EP of original Christmas music in 2010 called “Season of Love,” which is available at Amazon and iTunes. A full album of original Christmas music is in the works, and will be released next year.

Denmark, who co-wrote the new Hunter Hayes single, “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me,” with Dave Brainard and Hayes, has been performing in trios since she was 13 years old. From doo-wop to country, she has played it all in three-part harmony.

Her love of big band-era music stemmed from dinner at a steakhouse when she was 15 years old.

“I remember hearing Ella (Fitzgerald) playing through the restaurant, and I was so enamored with her voice I had the waitress go find out who was singing,” said Denmark, who is currently ranked No. 42 on the Top 60 Country Songwriters Chart.

By noon the following day, Denmark owned every Fitzgerald album Tower Records had on its shelves. Ten years later, Denmark found herself writing country music full-time in Nashville.

In November 2009, she wrote her first Christmas song, “Candy Cane Lane,” while in traffic on her way home from work. The song was recorded by hit Christian group Point of Grace in 2010 and became the catalyst for the creation of the North Pole Patrol.

For additional information on North Pole Patrol, visit