Jackie King

In My Own Words

I grew up in rural Wisconsin. My life as a musician began in the same basement where my Dad did taxidermy as a hobby. I fell in love with the music of Beethoven and Debussy as I sat at an old upright piano flanked by two stuffed deer heads and topped with a prowling coyote. My rising talent begged the question among observers; where did my indomitable excitement for music originate? Often I would answer, emulating the wit of my father, that my Dad had always played the radio rather well.

As a kid, music was my way of standing out in a crowd. Everything else about me was rather average, but being average was not my aim; I wanted to shine. I wanted to communicate the extraordinary way music made me feel. That instinct for expression through music became my claim to fame. My Grandpa and Grandma King were so interested in my musicianship that they actually bought a piano so that I could entertain them whenever I visited. My Grandpa unfailingly requested Jerry Lee Lewis in lieu of the classical repertoire I presented. I never consented. This point of contention came to light at his funeral years later when I was asked to speak on behalf of the grandchildren and play a piece. The humorous memory I shared of his perpetual request for “Great Balls of Fire” was a wonderful way to remember him, but the Schumann Romance I played better suited the somber moment.

That very human connection to music has filled my life with so many exhilarating experiences and amazing people. I knew by the time I was a teenager that I would have a career as a musician. And although I now seem to have been destined for a life devoted to the performing arts, rarely has it been simple or easy. Making a life as a musician is for those with more passion than common sense. I once described to my mom how emotionally and psychologically taxing voice lessons could be. She asked me why, if it was so very difficult, that I insisted on learning to sing. I answered her that ever since I had discovered how thrilling singing could be I had been ruined for doing anything else.

So here I am, making my way through the twists of life to my own soundtrack, beginning to realize the dream of sharing music with each turn and letting go of the pursuit of perfection in favor of an attempt at authenticity. I never could’ve predicted that I would ever have the desire, much less the courage, to express myself through songwriting. And although it stills scares the hell out of me, I am so happy to be painting an original musical portrait of myself to show the world. There’s just no telling what’s up my sleeve;)