Jenna Paulette has experienced firsthand the ebbs and flows of being a rancher alongside her family, working cattle on their ranch in Thackerville, Oklahoma. It’s where she learned the value of living off the land, along with the stressors that coincide with a livelihood that depends on factors outside of your control – weather, market prices, tariffs and more – and which often lead to increased rates of depression, addiction and suicide among ag workers.
Challenging the traditional notion of how people view cowboys and the stigma that prevents many from speaking about their reality, Paulette debuted her official music video for “You Ain’t No Cowboy” in partnership with the Texas Department of Agriculture. Watch HERE.
Directed by Quinton Cook, the video spans nearly five minutes with the intention of encouraging mental health conversations among ag workers and providing resources for them to seek help by directing people to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline. Opening with the sobering fact from the National Rural Health Association that the suicide rate among the agriculture community is 3.5 times higher than the national average, the video explores the spiral of a difficult season and a cowboy who relies on alcohol and drugs to cope.
For Paulette, it’s an important message that she hopes will help to change the perception of a cowboy. To her, a cowboy isn’t defined by the job, but is someone with the character to overcome any obstacle thrown their way. Expanding on the concept, she shares, “Whether you struggle with addiction, a cycle of harmful thoughts, suicide, depression, financial disaster, the list is long… Sometimes putting a stake in the ground is making a phone call to a helpline; sometimes it’s taking a hard look in the mirror at who you are and deciding that’s not who you want to be.
“The power to change and have a full life is there for the taking, you’re just a decision away from a redeemed life. This video is a call to action for those suffering and the end is a glimpse of hope into the life of a real man who is on the other side of adversity.”
As the story progresses, it ends on a hopeful note, inspired by the men in Paulette’s life who have weathered the storm, found help and came out stronger because of it – including her cowboy, Ross.
“The cowboys in my world, including Ross, the love of my life, have overcome one or many of those challenges… Ross is five years sober; he plays the cowboy in the video. I knew him after he quit using and drinking. He made a conscious decision to take his life back and with grace and the strength of God, good men and family around him he was able to do it,” she adds.
The moving song is one of 16 tracks off her debut album, The Girl I Was, which arrived in March, showcasing a level of honesty that left The Tennessean musing “gripping clarity, emotion and feeling are more readily apparent in her work than ever before,” and Billboard noting she arrives “confident” and “carefree.” Paulette made her Grand Ole Opry debut on Aug. 18 and is set to perform the National Anthem at the National Finals Rodeo on Dec. 13.