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20 Questions With Sammy Jackson

The St. Catharines singer-songwriter talks Beyoncé, jerk chicken & her love of clarity.

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Sammy Jackson takes a trip With You on her sophomore EP, which the St. Catharines jazz/R&B singer-songwriter shared HERE in October. Today, Jackson takes a trip through my silly questions. See if she’s still with us by the end of the proceedings:

 


 

Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base, other details you’d like to share (height, weight, identifying marks, astrology sign, your choice).
My name is Sammy Jackson. I’m a Jazz-Pop R&B singer-songwriter currently residing in St. Catharines, Ont. I studied at the University of Toronto, earning a Bachelor of Music in Performance with a specialization in Jazz Voice. I’m also a music educator that loves sharing my knowledge of music with others.

What is your musical origin story?
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I grew up with my mom playing music by artists like Celine Dion, TLC, Toni Braxton, Rod Stewart and more. As a child, I would set aside time in my room to sing into a hair brush, emulating vocalists such as Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé. I loved singing around the house but was very shy to sing in front of others until gathering the courage to audition for my middle school’s talent show. That is when I knew wanted to be a musician.

What do we need to know about your latest project?
My latest project is a five-track EP entitled With You, which was graciously funded by the Ontario Arts Council and FACTOR. It features all original compositions in collaboration with vocalist and songwriter Jacqueline Teh. This project showcases music that is honest and relatable while exploring themes of vulnerability, broken relationships, and love. Additionally, With You features some of Canada’s most outstanding musicians, including Tom Fleming (guitar), Chris Pruden (piano), Mark Godfrey (bass) and Ian Wright (drums).

What truly sets you apart from other artists?
As an artist, authenticity is very important to me. I present myself and my music in a way that is honest to who I am as a person.

What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
I think you would learn about personal events that took place in my life and I hope you would be able to form connection with the music. I always try to write music that is interesting sonically and can evoke emotion from listeners.

Tell us about the first song you wrote.
As a child, I enjoyed writing new lyrics and melodies to instrumentals of popular songs. However, I wrote my first song the summer after my first year of university. It was a ballad and in the key of C with cliché lyrics. I never performed it as I was still getting a handle on songwriting and the process of putting a song together but I was excited because the mystery of songwriting was a bit more clear.

What is the best / strangest / most memorable performance you gave?
My strangest but most memorable performance was my most recent show at the Jazz Bistro in Toronto. It was strange because it was my first show with all of the new regulations surrounding Covid-19. There was a limit on how many people were in the audience, we had plexiglass in front of us and we wore masks during our soundcheck. On the other hand, it was memorable because it had been the first in over a year that I had performed with my full band and I felt like the tunes I sang were authentic to who I am as an artist. On top of all of that, I performed for the first time while six months pregnant which also presented it’s own set of challenges. All in all it made for a great night.

What is the best performance you’ve seen another artist give?
The best performance I’ve seen another artist give was definitely when I saw Beyoncé and Jay-Z at the New Era Field in Buffalo, NY. For whatever reason, I never thought that I would ever get the opportunity to see Beyoncé live but my husband surprised me with tickets. I enjoyed it on so many levels, from the energy in the crowd to Beyoncé’s performance. I left feeling inspired to work on my own music.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope to still be writing music, putting out albums, performing and teaching privately. In addition to that, I hope to be raising my family with my husband and enjoying a simple life.

What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
If I could, it would be an absolute pleasure to collaborate with Lianne La Havas. She’s an incredible singer-songwriter and guitarist who’s music I really connect with. I especially love her arrangements where she sings and plays guitar. I typically include a few of her tunes in my sets when I perform.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
I honestly love a good variety which include of course Jazz, R&B, Pop, and Classical etc. People might be surprised to know that I do enjoy a good country tune here and there!

What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
I’m a fan of artists who create an album that has a cohesive sound and sense of direction. I’m really enjoying Tori Kelly’s new EP, specifically the songs Don’t Take Me Home and Glad. I’m also listening to Lianne La Havas’ newest album. I love every song on there but I’ve definitely had Weird Fishes, Can’t Fight and Courage on repeat.

What do you drive and why?
I currently drive a black 2013 Honda Civic. I would love to tell a great story about it but truth is I’m fortunate to have a great mom who bought it for me after completing university.

What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
A lot of people would be surprised to know that I actually completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics and Spanish in addition to my music degree. At the time, I was really passionate about becoming a speech-language pathologist, so I spent a lot of time studying language and its structure. This has actually been pretty useful when teaching voice lessons as a lot of concepts cross over.

What do you collect?
I’ve been know to have a bit of an obsession with objects that are clear — specifically things that would normally be opaque like coffee mugs, tables, shoes and many other things.

If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
I would definitely bring Jerk Chicken that I cooked authentically in a drum. With my parents being Jamaican, this was one of my favourite dishes growing up and everyone who tries it seems to love it!

What current trend or popular thing do you not understand at all?
TikTok. I’m always a month late by the time I’ve learned the latest dance.

Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
Growing up, my mom’s idea of an indoor pet was a fish. Now that I am on my own, my husband and I own cat named Coco that we sort of rescued or adopted, as he was already living on the property when we moved in. We never really considered ourselves cat lovers but he has fully converted us! He’s primarily an outdoor cat but comes inside to eat, get treats, and warm up when the weather gets cold.

If you could have any other job besides music, what would it be and why?
I would love be a yoga instructor or a naturopath. I find the idea of healing yourself through movement and natural remedies fascinating and have found each very beneficial in my life.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?
The best advice I’ve been given is to focus on the things that you are good at. I used to be the type of person who wanted to do multiple things all at the same but I’ve realized that when you stretch yourself thin across multiple skills, you don’t master any of them.

Watch her videos above, listen to her EP below, and connect with Sammy Jackson on her website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.