Keisha Jackson is a seasoned vocalist with a musical background that many can only dream about. For more than a decade she has traversed all over the world singing background for mainstream acts, including OutKast, Angie Stone, Erykah Badu and Toni Braxton, among others. But despite her résumé, she still has much more to prove to herself.
Growing up in a house filled with entertainers, including her mother, music industry icon Millie Jackson, certainly gave Jackson her first taste of show biz. But it was while she was attending the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut that she realized that pursuing a degree in law wasn’t the career path she wanted anymore. Several years later, Jackson moved with her mother to Atlanta from Teaneck, New Jersey, so her mother could further her career in real estate. Jackson was skeptical about the transition to the Southern city, but once she saw the opportunities the city’s music scene had to offer, her apprehension dissipated. Jackson managed to capture the attention of major record label, Sony where she signed her first deal.
After her tenure with the label, the independent recording artist continued to spread her musical wings with the release of her new single “Give You My All.” Jackson describes the hit as a mature, feel-good record for those trying to rebuild from a broken relationship. The song is now available on iTunes and several other digital outlets. You can also check out the music video for “Give You My All” via YouTube.
Jackson is currently juggling being a full-time mother of two, expanding her company, One Voice Entertainment, and hosting vocal coaching workshops in several major cities.
Read what she has to say. –lauren martinez
Who is Keisha Jackson?
I am a second-generation s— talker. Am I allowed to say that?
What was it like growing up in a musical family and being the daughter of Millie Jackson, a blues icon?
It was very interesting. There was always nothing but entertainers in the house. All my mother’s friends were fellow recording artists. You had Ray Goodman and Brown, the Isley Bros., Chuck Jackson, Ashford & Simpson were right over the bridge in New York City. My mother’s office was in New York. I was surrounded by music. The funny thing is, I couldn’t appreciate who, whose presence I was in until I got older and realized that was a big deal. They were just mom’s friends. There was always blues and R&B playing in the house. I couldn’t get away from it. When my mother tried to steer me away from it, it was to no avail.
When did you realize you were anointed and had a gift?
I always loved to sing. I didn’t know until high school it was what I wanted to do.
What was your first performance like?
My mother always called me onstage during her shows to sing. I ad-libbed off-the-cuff. The music would be playing and she’d say, “Keisha, come here.” She did [that] all the time and every time it kind of freaked me out. I would say that was my first time performing. I college, I’d sing the national anthem for schools. I was always in a talent show, always doing something and creating something to be able to perform.
How did you end up in Atlanta?
My mom is from Thomson, Georgia, a town near Augusta. She owns property here and one day decided were moving. Reluctantly, I moved to Atlanta and am so glad I did.
Do you still work closely with your mom?
We decided to be mother and daughter. We have our own way of doing things. She’s very strong-willed, -minded, -mouthed, as am I, with the exception of being mouthed, when it comes to my mother. We work together but not onstage. I trust her artistically. She always comes in with the right advice.
Who manages your brand and your distribution since you are no longer signed with Sony?
I figured it out myself. It was a process, a learning curve. This is a whole other beast for artist who were signed in the 90s. It was something I had to learn to do. I am a bit of a control freak and don’t like waiting on people … being at their mercy. I did mixtapes, sold them out of the trunk of my car and at the clubs. Over the years, I have figured it out.
What is the difference now compared to the ’90s?
There’s no artist development. You have to come fully packaged — you can sing and your look is defined. They don’t want to invest in that anymore.
Do you like being independent?
I like being independent, but I’d prefer a distributor, especially internationally. I am a soul artist and international fans still like vinyl, CDs, the cover art, the liner notes.
So you’re a mother?
I have two kids. One is 16 and the other is 24. My son is the youngest and my daughter sings and writes. She’s fighting it though. She is lot like I was when I was her age.
Do you ever cover your mother’s songs?
The song “Hurt So Good’ is my favorite because it is so gutsy and so raw. I am adding it to my show, Soul and Blues Review; it fits in perfectly.
For more information on Keisha Jackson, visit www.keishajackson.com.