In “Grasshopper”, one of her most popular songs, Jill sings to her father: “Don’t think that I’d forget when you took me out to get my first guitar…” She was just nine years old when she was given that first guitar and skinny kid from Paisley was immediately hooked. By studying her guitar heroes on VHS and watching their technique on repeat for hours on end Jill soon mastered the instrument and began writing her own songs aged just eleven.
Throughout her teenage years Jill dedicated herself to her music and developed a passion for performing. At 15 she joined a country band called Jacksonville with whom she served her apprenticeship gigging for 3 hours a night, five nights a week.
By 18 Jill was doing more and more solo gigs and was asked to support Roger McGuinn from The Byrds at The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow. Her big break came in 2003 when, aged just 24, she burst onto the music scene as the front woman of Scottish rock band Speedway. Initially formed by Jill and fellow Glaswegian Jim Duguid when Jill was just 19, the band became a four-piece when Jill and Jim were joined by bassist Tom Swann from Edinburgh and guitarist Dan Sells (now lead singer of The Feeling). Speedway had already been gigging and writing together for 3 years before they were signed by Innocent Records in 2002. The band enjoyed chart success when their debut single - double A-side 'Genie In A Bottle / Save Yourself' - flew straight into the Top 10 in August 2003. In addition to further chart success with subsequent singles ‘Can’t Turn Back’ and ‘In & Out’ the band also made a name for themselves across the UK touring relentlessly throughout 2003/04. As well as various festival appearances Speedway
experienced life on the road supporting label mates Blue on a major UK tour, followed by a tour with Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, which saw their final performance as a band in Cardiff in 2005 before they split later that year.
With chart success, tours and festival appearances under her belt with Speedway, Jill began to establish herself as a solo artist in 2005. “When Speedway came to an end I decided to go back to my roots and play the kind of music that I love. I just wanted to strip the whole sound back …” Jill’s solo work sees her bring her own unique style to the alternative country music genre – her acoustic Americana far removed from the pop/rock music that made her name. But one thing remains the same: she’s still a girl with a guitar and a voice you won’t forget. From rock chick to country girl, Jill Jackson’s career has already surpassed the expectations of the nine-year old girl who first picked up that Honner guitar.
At the end of 2005 Jill embarked upon an extensive 30-night UK tour supporting Nashville singer/songwriter Kevin Montgomery and his band, which included the legendary Al Perkins – a man who has performed with Jill’s idols Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris among others. During this tour Jill performed some of the material from her first solo album, which she released early in 2006 – an eponymous 10-track acoustic record. Former Spice Girl Melanie C recorded two of the songs from that album (‘Don’t Let Me Go’ and ‘What If I Stay’) for her fourth studio record “This Time” (2007).
Jill spent the latter part of 2006 in Nashville where she was described in the press as the “Scottish songbird” after fulfilling a dream by performing at the legendary Bluebird Café. Following her return from the US Jill threw herself into gigging her solo material, all the while writing new songs and building up a loyal fan base. Many of Jill’s fans have stuck with Jill since her Speedway days despite the change in music – something Jill is truly grateful for. She followed up the release of her 2006 acoustic album by touring with Natalie Imbruglia in 2007 and supporting Albert Lee in 2008.
At the end of 2008 Jill was reunited with Kevin Montgomery when they embarked upon a ‘50 States in 50 Days’ tour across America – an exhausting endurance test that saw the pair drive 22,000 miles in little over 7 weeks. It was on the final leg of this tour in Hawaii that Jill bought her first ukulele and immediately fell in love with it. Such is her love of the instrument that it inspired the creation of her 5-track ukulele EP “Painted Faces”, which was released in August 2009.
With momentum building and her profile as a solo artist rising steadily 2011 promises to be a big year for Jill Jackson. Her new album, entitled ‘Back to Zero’, is due for release early in the New Year. “This new record will be the one that defines me as a writer. It’s fun, intense and hugely personal.”Inspired by legends such as Dolly Parton, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Shelby Lynne, Chet Atkins and Joni Mitchell, Jackson has developed a musical style that is very much her own. Her voice has a warmth, clarity and haunting melancholy reminiscent of Karen Carpenter, with a similar ability to make every listener feel she is singing just for them. It’s that intimacy, coupled with her brilliantly crafted lyrics and beautiful melodies that inspires the adoration of her growing fan base. Rarely do people listen to Jill’s music or watch her perform without being deeply moved. The songs, like the woman behind them, are unforgettable.