When Wanda Jackson was a young lady, she did not realize her name would forever be associated with the beginning of Rock n Roll. Now – as an older lady, she did not realize that men and women, young enough to be her Grandchildren, would hold her in such high esteem. Men like Jack White …
” I guess I am like the Betty White of music …” Laughs Wanda. ” All these people suddenly interested in me and my music and handing me so much respect. I certainly can understand exactly what Betty White is going through right now. It is wonderful!”
Jackson – along wither her husband (manager) and publicist, were looking for an idea for an album. They decided it would be great to do a disc filled with duets. Musical arrangements created with singers from all walks of life and all ages. Different people who knew Wanda well. In their search, Jackson discovered that Jack White was a fan of not just her – Rockabilly as well. They contacted Mr. White and asked if he would be interested. White’s answer? Somewhat surprising …
“Jack said he was not interested in doing a duet with me. ” Explains Jackson. “But he then asked if he could produce an album for me. I was floored. He is one of the top rock stars of today and I was flattered. Here is this young guy, a guy younger than my son, and he wanted to work with me. It is something else.”
Jackson talked things over with her husband and the pair decided to give full reign to White. Who were they to argue with one of the influential men in rock today? The couple ran with their gut instincts …
“I began listening to the playbacks he recorded. I listened to the horn section and the girls who were singing behind me. He worked me so hard.” Laughs Jacskon. “I was physically tired going into this album but then I fed off the energy that White provided and it was very good for me. I had forgotten the energy these young people have along with so much vitality. It made me feel young again and it revitalized me. The record -‘The Party Ain’t Over‘; is something which I am extremely proud of and equally proud to have met and worked with Jack. He is such a nice young man and very respectful …”
That album placed in Billboard’s Top 200 and once more – Wanda became historic. She is the oldest person ever to obtain such a lofty goal. Jackson next turned to Justin Townes Earle to record another album. A disc which was much more laid back than her collaboration with White. A Country – oriented disc released under the name; ‘Unfinished Business’.
‘Justin is a different type personality than Jack. ” Explains Jackson. ” A young man who is very creative and a hard worker. White is so gung ho – Bam! Bam! Bam! … (She laughs). Justin said from the get-go that we would not try to match what I did with White. He wanted to go back to my roots. The album does not have all the big arrangements . I liked that because I like to sing all songs as long as I feel it in my heart and I feel confident I can sing it. The words must be believable and it does not matter if it is Country, Gospel or Rock. I just enjoy singing …”
Jackson, after all these years – still feels the same energy as she prepares for her live shows. Shows in the past which – were part of the reason behind Jackson’s success. Wanda was a spark-plug on stage and her reputation of being that type of performer led to more and more appearances.
” I still have the same excitement. The want is still there. I am not as feisty as I once was but now I have a different approach. All my audiences are young adults and the energy they provide keeps me going. I feel so much love from them and my music and it makes me feed off of them. I love what I do and when you think about it – people retire to do what they want to do. I am doing what I love to do and always have. I am very lucky. People retire to fish or sing music and generally have fun. I am doing that and me and my husband are blessed. I just want to keep doing this until I cannot do it anymore.”
Jackson spends her time not singing with her husband, daughter, son and her Grandchildren. She loves how her Grand kids feel as they read about her in history books. She is somewhat of a Superhero to them and it makes her very proud.
Wanda is coming to the Montreal International Jazz Festival on the 4th of July at Metropolis. Showtime is 8:30pm. She is part of a double bill with Bettye Lavette. Two songstresses who have a wealth of experience between them and the show should be a history lesson to everyone in attendance.
‘In Montreal I will mix it up real good.” says Wanda.” It is mostly the fifties Rock stuff but I throw in some of my country stuff I did from the sixties. There will be some Gospel songs but mostly I will sing the songs that people have on their record players. That is what they want. I do throw in a yodel and people love it. It is a showstopper and the audience really loves when I do that. I love Montreal and it is a great city for me …”
If there is one person that Jackson wished she had an opportunity to record with – one being that would have made her music career complete, it is someone who remains close to her heart …
- Wanda Jackson – A Legend; Pure and Simple. Part One (keenemusic.wordpress.com)
- The Best Music You’ve Never Heard #5: Wanda Jackson (kitchenslattern.com)