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Singer-songwriter Jessica Campbell lets out a nervous laugh when asked how she feels about touring in new parts of the country.

On one hand, it is an opportunity for the Nashville musician to build a fanbase and get her music out to the people.

She performs at La Cocina, her first time in Tucson, Saturday.

On the other, "It is definitely an uphill battle," she said. "Once you work in an area a few times and you get people to come back to your shows, it is rewarding. But it is really challenging getting your foot in the door."

Campbell has been motoring around Arizona and Southern California the last few weeks in an effort to gain more exposure for what she does, specifically for her latest album, "The Anchor and the Sail," released in April on Little London Records.

Born in North Carolina and raised singing, including in the gospel tradition, Campbell moved to Nashville after college and has been paying her Music City dues as a full-time musician since.

Her songs have been featured on numerous national television programs, from the CW's "Hart of Dixie" and ABC's "Ugly Betty" to the season finale of last year's "Tough Love New Orleans" on VH1.

"I always knew music would be part of my future in one way or another," Campbell said. "I never really saw myself doing anything else."

Campbell calls "The Anchor and the Sail" an album about heartbreak and the celebration of love.

"It's the journey of life," she said. "It runs from one end of the spectrum to the other."

The release, recorded at studios around Nashville, including at producer Cason Cooley's house, features songs from a pool of built-up material. Most were penned by Campbell.

"Having so many songs to choose from can make it difficult in deciding which direction you want to go," Campbell said. "You could have 10 upbeat, fun songs or 10 thought-provoking, mellow songs. Trying to decide on what you want can be difficult."

Campbell will have tracks from the album ready to perform at La Cocina Saturday.

So far, she said, her shows in Arizona have been pleasant.

"The challenge is sticking your neck out there," she said. "You start in small venues and take what you can get. It is where everybody starts."

If You Go

• What: Jessica Campbell.

•Where: La Cocina, 201 N. Court Ave.

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

• Cost: Free.

• Details:

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at or 807-8430.