"If I was to sum up my music, I'd say it's one crazy blonde with a high-energy rock show dumped in a country bucket," says Charleston, Illinois native Jackie Lawson. Jackie has an expressive voice, soulful and strong, gentle and innocent, kickin' and down-home. It's a unique voice that stirs the heart, leads the imagination, and brings the songs to life. On stage, she has a remarkable way of making her audiences feel at ease, yet entertained, with a fiery-sweet attitude and energetic presence that won't quickly be forgotten. Growing up, Jackie had a number of musical influences, thanks to the diverse tastes of her family. "I've grown up being surrounded, inundated by music. My parents played albums of everything from the Beatles to the Judds, Patty Loveless, James Taylor, and Harry Chapin. My brother, a jazz musician by education, often played Pink Floyd, Blind Melon, Pearl Jam, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and anything not pop. Somewhere in there, I started listening to Tom Petty, Janet Jackson, Aerosmith, & No Doubt. I can enjoy any one of these albums today, but you'll usually find me listening to the female powerhouse voices of modern country, like Sara, Martina, Sugarland, & Faith. I really respect Faith Hill as an artist and as a person. She's really come a long way. I hope someday I can pull off her kind of success with the same grace and humor." Although only in her twenties, Jackie is well on her way. If you were to ask her how long she's been singing she'd tell you, "twenty-something years; well, sort-of. I've been an infamous shower singer for 20 years, a church singer for 12, and entertainment singer for 9 and a country singer for 4." A whole is the sum of it's parts, and a life is a series of moments; Jackie's is no exception. At age 17, she flew to Argentina for a year as a Rotary Youth Exchange student and returned home fluent in Spanish and singing up a storm. It was during this time Jackie unknowingly began nurturing and creating her own individual style of singing. Now, back home, the kindhearted locals of her hometown never hesitate to show her their support. She adds that her biggest encouragement comes from home, though, from her husband and her family. With a big push from her husband, Jackie decided to take some chances by diving in head first. In October of 2002 he drove her up to Detroit for her first audition ever, for the second season of American Idol. She passed two auditions before meeting Simon, Paula, and Randy in the third audition. Unanimously, they told her that she had a good voice, but wasn't quite what they were looking for on the show at that time. On March 6 of 2004 Jackie readily accepted the opportunity to open for Buddy Jewel offered by the folks at Nashville North USA in Taylorville, IL. Jackie comments, "For being my first big label opening act, the experience was so uplifting and motivating. I told myself that music and entertainment is definitely where I want to be." She admits that this decision made her a little nervous at first, but borrowing the lyrics of a Jo Dee Messina song ("Was That my Life") Jackie says confidently, "Yes, I'll fall before I fly, but no one can say I never tried." Forging ahead, Jackie has since opened for Josh Gracin (2005), Sugarland (2006), and Craig Morgan (2006 in front of 8,000 screaming fans!). She's joined the Illinois Country Music Association (ICMA), American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor's in Business Accounting. She has been chosen to compete in numerous Colgate Country Showdowns from Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, and Illinois, and she's competed at the State level for Illinois (2005) and Indiana (2006). As a result of her onstage talent and widening fan base, Jackie has been invited to sing with several area country and rock bands including Twisted Dixie, Black N Blue, TNT & the Dynamite Cowboys, The Awesome Possum Project, and Northern Lights. In August 2005, a locally successful dance rock and blues band "Black N Blues" asked Jackie to join up as lead vocalist. She accepted on the condition that they would back up her country shows when spring rolled around. It was a perfect match! Black N Blue dropped the "s" and focused on popular rock tunes of the 70's, 80's, 90's, & today. When the time came for country music, an alias band was created under the name "Hillbilly Rockstars." Both bands (well, the same band under two names playing two different genres) skyrocketed in popularity and are constantly touring the Midwest. Click here for the band members' bios. In September 2005, Jackie released her debut CD single 'A Little Hope' and 'Waiting', both original works. 'A Little Hope' was released independently and helped to raise over $300 for the American Cancer Society. Currently, Jackie has just finished her first full album "Crazy Blonde" and is planning a release party March 9 in Mattoon, IL. The new album, produced my Mike Jones and Jackie, consists of 10 previously unreleased tracks. Four of these - 'Don't Let Me Love You,' 'Stranger,' 'When You're Here,' and 'Give Me a Break (Busy, Busy, Busy)'- were written by Jackie. Click here to order your copy. Jackie continues to tour and delivers a dynamic country concert backed by her Hillbilly Rockstars. She also continues to write music everywhere she goes. "I am so excited about the way things have been working out for me," she says. "So much has happened for me these last five years, and I've learned that everything happens for a reason." Jackie goes on to say that every positive break in the pursuit of her dream has been the result of some small minute occurrence that might normally have gone unnoticed. "I paid to sing in a contest in Paducah, KY in 2004 and met my producer there (Mike Jones). He's helped me immeasurably with my studio performance. Last winter I started singing in clubs with Black N Blue to help make ends meet. That experience has helped me tremendously to develop my voice and my live performance. And I can't begin to describe the things that have inspired and developed my songwriting,' she says. "I can see looking back that God has a plan, and I think He's been smiling on me."
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