Interview with Texas-based Jackie Venson, an intoxicating amalgam of Blues, Rock, and Soul with deeply heartfelt lyrics

"All modern music after the 1800s has been heavily influenced and shaped by American Blues. Blues is the parent genre to almost everything we hear these days, everything from Jazz, to electronica, to Hip Hop, it all started at the blues. It has bridged many gaps socially, at least in the US, and has always been a champion for diversity and inclusion."

Jackie Venson: The Girl & The Truth

Obsessed with music from an early age, singer/songwriter Jackie Venson immersed herself in its study, attending the Berklee College of Music to practice classical piano. However, it wasn't until she switched to the electric guitar, that her long-simmering passion for emotive live performance was realized. Abandoning the strait-laced world of classical for the raw power of blues and soul, Venson has since been tirelessly honing her skills into an intoxicating amalgam of Blues, Rock, R&B and Soul with deeply heartfelt lyrics. Jackie Venson released her latest studio album "Joy" in 2019. Enthralled with music since the age of 8, this young singer/songwriter/musician instantly captures your attention with a vibrant musical soul and passionate control of her instruments, that reach far beyond her tender age. As she mindfully blends Blues, Rock, R&B, Soul and more, with her introspective lyrics, the message is clear. When you’re listening to Jackie you hear the “Truth in Music”.

Her live performances revisits what makes music so powerful: emotion and passion. She thrives without the flash, instead favoring a clean sound, genuine soul, and meaningful connection with her audience. Music is not only what Venson does – but also defines who she is and reminds her where she wants to be: performing. Having finished her second tour of Europe and the recent declaration of “Jackie Venson Day” (May 21st) in the “Live Music Capital of the World” Austin, TX, there’s no doubt she has every reason to lead the way with the trademark smile that accompanies her magnificent musicianship.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I’ve been heavily influenced by the inclusiveness of the blues and rock genres, not just by people but musically speaking. When I played the piano, I always had an issue with improvisation, it was like I couldn’t free my mind. When I started playing the guitar and playing blues, the folks around me were so encouraging and helped me find my voice. I also found that while listening to blues and rock recordings, I was able to latch on and internalize the music naturally.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I would describe it as a crossroads of rock, r&b, soul, pop, and blues. My music philosophy is that it truly is a language, in almost every way. What I mean by that is that in music one must practice, memorize, observe, and immerse oneself in it to truly master it. My creative drive comes from observation of the world, listening to others, and listening to my own heart and emotions.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

My Dad told me when I was young to never try to work a band, to remain solo and learn how to operate completely on my own. That was hands down the best advice I ever received because he ended up being totally right. When I was a teenager, I signed up to be in a 6-month program where we are matched with other teen musicians and formed into a band. I saw first-hand the incredible hurdles of trying to keep a band together. When I picked up the guitar, I decided from the jump to just be “Jackie Venson”, no “band” or “experience” or anything after it, and I’m nearing a decade of consistent success surrounding my solo project.

"I would describe it as a crossroads of rock, r&b, soul, pop, and blues. My music philosophy is that it truly is a language, in almost every way. What I mean by that is that in music one must practice, memorize, observe, and immerse oneself in it to truly master it. My creative drive comes from observation of the world, listening to others, and listening to my own heart and emotions." (Photo: Jackie Venson)

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

One of the first times I played a guitar solo in front of folks at a blues jam, I shared the stage with an Austin TX legend Matthew Robinson. He told me, after my solo, that the only thing I was missing was confidence, that I need to turn up my amp louder than anyone when it was my turn to solo. It’s been 8 years and I still remember that, and you can bet my guitar solos are plenty loud and confident these days!

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I can’t spend any time focusing on the past, I’m only in the present and I look forward only when I need to for necessary planning. I don’t miss anything about the music of the past, it was created and we have it, it has served its purpose. Now we have all this awesome new music that’s been informed by the music of the past and I’m stoked about it. The only thing I fear is going backwards and not forward, so far that has yet to happen when it comes to music.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

The distribution of opportunities. We don’t need this old system of just a few celebrities, that we usually don’t even choose, getting all the best exposure and streams. There’s so much incredible music out there being buried underneath what a few record executives and tastemakers force feed the public. It’s not the 50s anymore, we have the internet now, we need to expose the entire spectrum of artists that exist in the world.

"I’ve been heavily influenced by the inclusiveness of the blues and rock genres, not just by people but musically speaking. When I played the piano, I always had an issue with improvisation, it was like I couldn’t free my mind. When I started playing the guitar and playing blues, the folks around me were so encouraging and helped me find my voice. I also found that while listening to blues and rock recordings, I was able to latch on and internalize the music naturally." (Photo: Jackie Venson)

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

I have definitely run into some bad attitudes, unfair treatment, and disrespect centered around the fact that I am a woman. Nothing big enough to actually stop me, but enough to be emotionally exhausting. However, there is an has always been PLENTY of women masterfully displaying their craft and their art all throughout history. Today is no different. I always say just because YOU haven’t heard of these awesome women doesn’t mean they haven’t already existed and currently exist. I’d say some folks need to come out from under their rocks and start paying attention.

What is the impact of the Blues, Soul & Rock music and culture on the socio-cultural implications?

Books have been written about this. All modern music after the 1800s has been heavily influenced and shaped by American Blues. Blues is the parent genre to almost everything we hear these days, everything from Jazz, to electronica, to Hip Hop, it all started at the blues. It has bridged many gaps socially, at least in the US, and has always been a champion for diversity and inclusion.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I would like to go back to when the first human ancestor discovered fire. I want to see what we looked like, I want to see how the early ancestor stumbled upon it or if it was an accident at all. I want to see how they interacted with each other and what similarities they have to us, also if they used language or just spoke with body language. It would be fascinating.

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