The Other Side of Jackie Venson

Jackie Venson

I have always believed practice is what makes any artist great. Whether you’re a writer, a painter, or a musician, you will never surpass others’ expectations unless you practice your trade. It may take years for you to become a master and well-known throughout the world, but it will be worth it in the end if you start and continue to better yourself now. 

That’s why I absolutely adore Austin-born artist Jackie Venson. An up-and-coming blues artist, Jackie is the daughter of Andrew Venson, also an extremely talented musician, and the youngest of nine siblings. Since she was eight, she has been practicing the piano, singing and songwriting. In 2011, her last year at the Berklee College of Music, she even taught herself how to play guitar. Since then, she’s grown in her abilities, steadily moving into notoriety. During the past couple of years, as she has traveled and played around the world, she has begun to win the hearts of many through her incredible guitar strums, beautiful piano-playing, and her amazingly fervent and raw vocals. Songs like “Next Life” and “Back to Earth” show just how powerful her talents are. She is the very definition of “practice makes perfect.” 

However, hearing her music is only one side of her. If you want to truly know the real Jackie, the kind of person who has worked years to better herself, you have to talk with her. Luckily for me, I was given the chance to talk with her over the phone recently, and let me tell you, I love this side even more!

CC: We’ll start with an easy one. Who were your musical influences growing up?

JV: For guitar, it would be Buddy Guy. My singing influence was Lauryn Hill and for song-writing, it was Stevie Wonder.

CC: Huh, I’ve definitely heard of Stevie Wonder, but I’ll have to look up the other two. Now, I read you learned to play guitar in your last year of college and you’ve played piano since you were eight. Do you know any other instruments or is there an instrument you’d like to learn?

JV: Haha, well, I don’t think I’ll be learning any others yet, but if I had to, it would be the fiddle or viola.

CC: What do you think you would be doing right now if you hadn’t learned guitar?

JV: Honestly, I don’t think I’d be doing music for a living. The guitar was what really drove me to continue my pursuit of this career. My life would definitely be different if I hadn’t picked it up.

CC: Okay, so what was it like growing up the youngest of nine siblings? As the oldest of three, I can’t even imagine that.

JV: You’re the oldest of three?

CC: Yeah, I’ve got two younger brothers.

JV: That’s cool! As for me, I wouldn’t say it was “hard” because that would be negative. It was more challenging if anything, mainly because of the age difference. Everyone was older and taller than me, and they all wanted their own things. If we fought, I’d always lose because they were stronger. However, I learned to fight through life with my own special weapons. Because of all their experience, I had a huge advantage growing up. They would tell me information I would have had to learn on my own otherwise, which really gave me a leg up on everyone else.

CC: Man, now I kind of wish I had an older sibling or two. Anyway, I listened to your song “Next Life” the other day and I thought it was incredible. Actually, I’ve been checking out your YouTube channel and I saw you playing with your dad. The man can really sing.

JV: Yeah, he’s pretty awesome.

CC: That being said, what can we expect to hear in your upcoming live album, “Jackie Venson Live?” I don’t think I ever heard of a live album before.

JV: Well, it’s the first live album I’ve done, so it’s new to me, too. You’ll get to hear new renditions of old songs, new arrangements, and new songs. I like the idea because it’s a mix of the old and the new.

CC: All right, that should be fun! Speaking of old, where was the most interesting concert you’ve ever played at?

JV: Hmm… I’d have to say when my concert in Prague. I was playing at this place called the Jazz Dock in the Czech Republic and they had a jazz festival going on at the time. I was a part of the after-party line-up and I was the first one up. This place’s capacity was two hundred and seventy-five people, but we were packed with three hundred and fifty! None of the bands could figure out why we were so packed. People even left at different points during the concert so that more people could take their spots. It was my second time in Prague, but I had no one to rely on for advice. So I decided since I was all alone, I would just have to rock this place on my own. It was an awesome show.

CC: That’s definitely something I’ve never had to go through. Now, apparently May 21, 2015 was “Jackie Venson Day” in Austin. Does that date hold any significance to you or was that just the day they picked?

JV: That’s something they do for a number of artists there. They picked the day, but it was really important for me because it signified my hometown’s acceptance of me. It’s hard to get the people in Austin to care, especially the media outlet. However, it was a great show and a turning point for me. I had a big show the next day and it was the most people I’ve ever drawn to a show. A week later, I went to Berlin and then to that Prague show I talked about.

CC: That sounds like it was a pretty amazing time in your life. I’m glad your dreams are working out for you. I’m still working on trying to fulfill my dreams of a writing career. However, as a fellow writer, what’s your songwriting process?

JV: I usually start by practicing guitar. Sometimes I get stressed about trying to be the best I can be, and that pressure doesn’t produce quality songs. I play to calm myself down. I’ll sit down and practice for however long it takes, even if it’s three or four hours. It really depends on the sound. When I hear a chord or another sound I like, I’ll stop practicing and start writing.

CC: I’ll have to try something like that for my writing. What is your favorite song you’ve written and why?

JV: I have to say “Show My Light.” It is so fun to play and it has taught me so much on the guitar.

CC: I don’t think I’ve heard that one yet.

JV: Well, there are two versions on YouTube. One is on piano and the other is a clip from a show. It’ll actually have a new rendition on my live album using a power trio of drums, bass, and guitar.

CC: You’ve definitely perked my interest. I’ll have to check it out. Anyway, I only have one more question for you. So I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Do you think you would ever consider performing here or in Tennessee at all?

JV: Well, I actually played in the Nashville Sidestreet, which is a video podcast premiering February 20 at 3 pm. But it really depends on opportunities. Sometimes places don’t work because a show can’t be secured. However, we’ll just have to wait and see.

CC: Well, I certainly hope you’ll come around here at some point. All right, so do you have anything to say to our readers?

JV: Just thank you for this opportunity and thank you for listening! I’m glad to have gotten this opportunity.

CC: The feeling is mutual and I hope things work out in your upcoming album!

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