Jill Jack
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Jill Jack

Ferndale, Michigan, United States | INDIE

Ferndale, Michigan, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Folk




"Toledo Blade"

THE LOVE HOTEL Jill Jack (Drum Dancer)
The fourth release from this Detroit singer-songwriter belies its independent, small-label status with its pristine production values and overriding sense of professionalism. Jack's voice is as smooth as silk, but with enough bluesy rough edges to give her songs grit. She wrote all 15 songs, and deserves a national following.

- ROD LOCKWOOD - Toledo Blade

"Hour Detroit"

The Love Hotel, Jill Jack. On her Third Full Length CD, Ferndale singer-songwriter Jill Jack straddles some thin lines with considerable grace. Jack variously is working-class rocker-storyteller and finley finessed sonic aesthete, country good ol' girl and pop chanteuse. The thread holding them all together is the richness of her voice, conveying emotion and luster. The Love Hotel also is her most adventurous-sounding record, from the haunted void that serves as the musical backdrop to "She Ain't Breathin" to the textures of "My Lost Dreams", shich conjures up images of a Midwetern version of '60's British pop. Lyrically, Jack dances with the date that brought her: straightforward portraits of everyman (or woman as the case may be) and introspective journeys into matters of the heart. - Chris Handyside - Chris Handyside writer

"Billboard Magazine"

Detroit- "I really like what's happening now," singer/songwriter Jill Jack says, and who wouldn't? After paying her dues as a session vocalist for local rock and country bands, she won two Detroit Music Awards this past April, for best rock vocalist and rock act deserving wider recognition, one week after her debut album, "Watch Over Me," came out on local Drum Dancer Records. She opened for Dan Fogleberg June 20 at the Meadowbrook Festival. And CIDR (the River) Detroit is solidly in her corner, promoting her shows and squeezing her onto the playlist whenever it can. "Jill Jack has all themakings of a major talent," says Ann Delisi, CIDR's music director. "She's got the stage presence, the voice, the ability to interpret songs passionately...there's a lot of soul to what she does." Jack's music floats in and around the roots, rock genre, with her clear voice, emotional delivery, and straightforward, hook-laden songs providing the focal points. Her live performances are captivating, with her personal warmth and honesty garnering new fans each time out. "Watch Over Me" has generated much excitement, both critically, with enthusiastic endorsements and reviews and at reatail, where it is already in its second printing, having sold the first 1,000 units. Demand has let to the retention of a regional distribution. Jack plans to work the colleges in the fall and do an East Cost trip in additoin to expanding her radio efforts. "All along, you sit around trying to figure out what your purpose is, and...I think mine is to touch people's souls-toaffect people," she muses. "I can't wait to meet the strangers of this world." - Karen Koski - Continental Drift

"state news.com"

- Dan Austin

"50 Best - State News"

No.6 Jill Jack: “Too Close to the Sun”

Released: October 1998

Label: Drum Dancer Records

Hometown: Ferndale

Web site: www.jilljack.com

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Jill Jack and Natalie Merchant were one in the same.

Vocally she does sound eerily like Merchant, but her songwriting is more folk-based. Her music connects, more so than many of her contemporaries, with what it means to be human. Her lyrics are incredibly poetic, as heard in “Travels On,” featuring the lines “I lost hope and I’ve lost faith/Through his darkness he’s shown his pain/Through my eyes he’s seen his loss, and the time for us travels on.”

Each song tells a story and lasts as long as it has to; some songs clock in at more than six minutes. Perhaps her music resonates so well with the listener because Jack is not that different from the rest of us. She works hard, she’s a proud parent working hard to support her family and playing music when she can. While her voice resembles Merchant, comparisons to Woody Guthrie and John Cougar Mellencamp are probably more justified.

Jack is a woman with ambition, a story to tell and an indisputable talent that will surely carry her in the footsteps of Sarah McLachlan, Merchant and other women songstresses.
- Dan Austin

"Metro Times - Thom Jurek"

Faith and footwork
Singer-songwriter Jill Jack finds redemption by doing her muse's bidding.

By Thom Jurek
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Jill Jack is all smiles, but the cold Ann Arbor day is doing its work as her teeth chatter involuntarily. We haven't begun the interview yet, but just before Bruce Giffin starts snapping pictures, she imparts a story. It alerts me to the connection between her cheerful endurance in these difficult circumstances and the depth and transcendence in the voice that soars throughout Watch Over Me, her stunning debut album, and in her live shows.

"My girlfriends and I were hanging out for a weekend in Saugatuck," Jack relates, "where in the off-season everything closes early. So here we are, driving around in this little town called Douglas, and every bar is closed. I tell them that the first bar I see I'm pulling into. I suddenly see this little roadside joint full of pickup trucks and motorcycles ... and we do it.

"Inside are cowboys and bikers and a country band up on the stand. After a couple of drinks, I decide I want to sing on that stage and go up and ask the bartender if I can sing with the band for a number. In fact, I offer to pay her because she is wary, to say the least. She's wondering, 'Who are you, little girl? These folks will eat you alive.' But she decides to let me have my date with death anyway. As I go up to the stage to approach the band, I get all shaky and my friends are saying, 'You better be good or we're dead.' The locals were eyeing me with suspicion and dread and a certain skeptical amusement.

"So anyway, I get up on the stage and teach the band my song 'Rosie' which has only four chords and is about a truck stop waitress. We play the song together and, by the end, everybody in the place was screaming and banging on tables and yelling for more 'Rosie.' Now they want to me to shoot a video there! My whole life seems to work like that these days. I know I'm doing the right thing, what I'm supposed to do," Jack says.

Given the rocking country and folk of Watch Over Me, the things that are happening for her musically (two Detroit Music Awards, opening for nationally known acts at Pine Knob and the State Theatre, solid bookings week in and week out, in and out of town) and the humility and surrender-to-the-gods attitude that beams forth from her small, wiry frame, I don't just believe her, I believe in her.

At 34, Jack is entering a phase when most have already given up. A wife (her husband, David Jack, is also a musician) and mother (her young daughter Emma graces the album cover dressed as an angel), Jack is pursuing a dream to unknown ends and balancing it all with grace and a rough-hewn elegance.

After 10 years of slogging it out singing in bars and folk clubs as a backup singer and later fronting a band, Jack has begun to try things on her own, surrounding herself with musical collaborators who encourage and challenge her vision of what music and songwriting should be. She works constantly -- singing on commercial jingles, playing gigs, promoting her album, being a mom full-time and maintaining a marital partnership. She's in the middle of life as a whirlwind, but there is a calm here, even when she talks about the edges that get frayed from time to time.

"I made up my mind, when I started writing my own songs, that the only thing I had to give up was my resistance," Jack says.

"And when I surrendered to what I needed to do, despite the hard stuff, it all fell into place. I knew I had to surrender when I first started writing my own songs about 4 1/2 years ago. I just get out of the way and do the footwork; the rest is taken care of."

Jack's songs grew out of journals that she had been keeping since she was 9. The journals bore fruit as poems and, finally, as songs. Some of these later found their way, in various guises, onto Watch Over Me, an album that's ambitious, full of a passion that burns brighter, longer and more dangerously than perhaps it should.

Her country sound is rooted in Detroit rock 'n' roll. She grew up here, has collaborated with many of the area's finest musicians and many of them show up on her album.

Jack addresses themes of redemption, loss, erotic passion, love and restlessness in songs that sally forth with guitars ringing and drums punching through the mix to hold her up and let the voice soar from her slight frame.

"I sing as a way of making sense of things, as a way of dealing with things. It's healing for me; it erases doubt and uncertainty about what it is I'm doing," Jack explains.

"People weren't always this supportive. When all my friends were growing out of this whole phase of restlessness and the pursuit of dreams, I was committing my life to them -- without giving up certain other things, like being a good mother and wife. I live in a nice enough house, but I live there by hard work and faith that all of it is going to turn out all right, if I am true to what it is I am supposed to do. And what I am supposed to do is sing."

In a live setting, it's easy to see that Jack acts on her beliefs. With her crack band, which is as edgy and restless as she is -- Billy Brandt on guitar, mandolin and banjo; bass legend Gary Rasmussen, and Cary Gluckman on drums -- Jack turns stages into melting pots of her, the band and the audience's emotions.

"I do feed from the crowd and the band. The longer I do this, the safer I feel at putting myself completely out there and letting them see it all, even if it's something uncomfortable or scary. I need it to feel like I am part of them and their experience."

And it works. Jack brings down the curtain of the soul in performance. She wrings so much truth out of a song, it's almost uncomfortable. You wonder if you should be embarrassed for her until you realize it's your own sense of shame and guilt and reserve talking. She knows that the only real safety is in rigorous honesty, whether expressed in music, an embrace or a conversation that's needed to take place for a long, long time.

"I am in this for the long haul and that's what comes out in shows and on record. I do it to stay alive. Once, I quit for a while and all I could do was to sit in my yard and cry, because I was denying my vocation."

In the 1980s, the words "redemptive art" seemed to lose their meaning in the glittering images of music, rather than represent the stuff from which music itself is made. From Jack's vantage point, those words have regained their sheen as the kind of ideal that only the most determined and impure artists -- those who truly give in to the muse -- ever get to encounter, let alone impart. - Thom Jurek

Thom Jurek is a poet, critic and record store clerk living in Ann Arbor - Metro Times

"Brian McCollum Detroit Free Press"

Jill Jack picks up 6 Detroit Music Awards

April 25, 1998
Free Press Pop Music Writer

It was Jill Jack's night Friday, as the singer-songwriter took home six Detroit Music Awards, including best local rock act and vocalist.

East Lansing college rock outfit the Verve Pipe took the trophy for best national rock record for last year's top 10 ballad "The Freshmen." Rap duo Insane Clown Posse -- stars in a high-profile dispute with Disney last summer -- snagged best hip-hop record and hip-hop act.

The State Theatre event was attended by about 1,500 fans and music industry people, including representatives from record labels and stations that paid up to $1,000 per table.

Jack -- who also grabbed best acoustic recording for 1997's earthy "Watch Over Me" -- entered Detroit's music radar through relentless live performing the last two years.

Other winners Friday night:

Alternative act: Robb Roy
Hard rock act: Motor Dolls
Blues ensemble: Mudpuppy
Country record: Anita Cochran, "Back to You"
Jazz record: Alto Reed, "Cool Breeze"
Techno DJ: Derrick May
Gospel vocalist: Aretha Franklin

Funk act: Howling Diablos

Record company: Overture


Detroit Music Award winners
- Detroit Free Press


1997 Watch Over Me
1998 Too Close to the Sun
1999 Live from Billy's Basement
2001 The Love Hotel
2003 Jill Jack - Live and Unplugged
2005 (Nationally 2008) Moon and the Morning After
2009 Songwriter Sessions
2012 Sunflower Girl



"She's got the stage presence, the voice, the ability to interpret songs passionately ... there's a lot of soul in what she does" -- Billboard Magazine

Jill Jack’s magical connection to her audience is the result of her generous artistry. By combining her gifts as a conceptual visionary with a warm gathering of musical influences, Jill touches that secret heart of ours with her melodies and lyrics. In her hometown of Detroit, Jill needs no further explanation. She’s been lauded in equal measure to her talents: Since 1997 she’s won 33 Detroit Music Awards in every conceivable category that applies to a singer-songwriter. Much of this provincial success is due to her charming stage presence and emotive songwriting. It’s simply called connecting, and it’s the bounty of a true songwriter open to all of life: her own defeats, victories, hopes dashed, dreams fulfilled, her muse, her loneliness, her misplaced love and her romantic successes.

Jill has built her audience with her whimsical, genuine live performances. Genuine is the defining term here. Propelled by her musical exemplars Joni Mitchell and Emmy Lou Harris, there are few performers with less conflict between who they are on stage and off than Jill. She extends the tradition of the confessional (i.e. achingly open, unafraid of intimacy) singer-songwriter, and is proud of that style and its continuation.

You get all of Jill Jack in a performance -- her blend of folk and rock traditions, her open humor, her fine band. Jill harbors little of her process from her audience -- each performance is about opening a window and shining a light into her songwriting, leading inevitably to the intense relationship with her fans. Her career is founded on folk’s best idea -- that there’s a shared knowing between artist and audience, a conversation that flows both ways during a show. Plus she’s a strong woman who’s won over the toughest town in a man’s world -- she’s a bandleader, the principal songwriter in a large group bearing her own name, an employer and automatic arbiter of musician’s issues.

"She's sharp, she's witty, and she's got soul. Most important, I think based on her songwriting and style, she's got staying power" -- WDVR-FM in New Jersey

Jill began her professional career singing backup with well known Detroit country and rock names The Forbes Brothers and Stewart Francke. By the late 90s she was writing constantly, fronting her own band and beginning to open for what would become a long list of prominent touring acts -- Bob Seger, John Waite, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, Dan Fogelberg, Marshall Crenshaw, Chris Issak, and Loretta Lynn, who gave Jill priceless backstage encouragement and advice. As well she developed her reputation as headliner at venues & festivals -- SXSW (South by Southwest), Ann Arbor Folk Festival, 30A Songwriters Festival, WYCD Downtown Hoedown, Blissfest Music Festival, The Bluebird Café, The Living Room in NYC, and consistent sell-out shows at The Ark. Regional touring has branched to successful tours of England and the American Southeast. Jill was also a finalist in the 2011 Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter Showcase, and was chosen as an Americana semi-finalist in the 2011 International Songwriting Competition for Fallen (A Love Song).

"Her voice can soar like opera and smoke like the blues ... one of the strongest voices in Detroit, or in the country for that matter." -- The Detroit Free Press

Over a decade of writing, recording and live performance set the stage for the daring Songwriter Sessions (2009), a recording of two live performances of previously unreleased material that utterly removed any wall between songwriter and world. Directed by award-winning Nashville producer Colin Linden, Songwriter Sessions hit #6 on the Americana charts in Europe, and the Top 100 in the US.

Jill took the reins as producer for her latest release, Sunflower Girl (2012). Although the word “organic” is oft overused in contemporary music, Sunflower Girl transcends into the realm of those very rare records where artist, songs, band, emotional spirit and recording process coalesce to give us a masterpiece. You want to know Jill Jack the woman and artist, listen to Sunflower Girl -- it’s all there, laid bare with artistic honesty, played with a true degree of mastery, and lyrics sung with passion and vitality.

Her success in music has led to recent opportunities both acting in and scoring for independent films. A natural extension of her inclusive music, Jill contributes mightily to her community, either as an active board member, or playing benefits and lending her name and time to organizations such as Detroit Childrens Choir, Michigan Athritis Foundation, Rock for Jobs, Gilda’s Club, Bras For A Cause, the Girl Scouts of America, and Enchanted Makeovers. In late 2010 Jill was asked to write and record a theme song for a Detroit campaign called I’m A Believer. The highly successful pro-Detroit campaig