Playing this summer: Anita Jackson
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Anita Jackson grew up hearing music at home and dreamed of becoming a performer. And the music that she listened to the most — the music her mother loved best — initially pointed her aspirations toward Broadway instead of the concert stage.
"My mother was a musical theater fan," Jackson said, in an interview. "She loved Barbra Streisand and played the music from ‘Funny Girl’ and her other musicals. And she also loved everything from ‘Chicago’ to ‘Dreamgirls.’So that was what I wanted to do!"
Jackson participated in every musical production she could at Southwest High School, then went to new York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy — hoping for a career on Broadway.
"I actually did make it to Broadway," she recalls. "But the play only ran briefly before a financial backer pulled out and it moved to Off Broadway. So I ended up doing recording session work for Whitney and Cissy Houston, Erika Badu and others, and enjoyed it a lot."
But when Jackson’s daughter was born, she decided to move back to St. Louis. Since then, she has appeared in several productions at the Black Rep ("Caroline, or Change," "Ain’t Misbehavin’" and "Blues in the Night") and built a following as a club and concert performer as well.
This monthJackson headlines at Jazz at the Bistro July 12 and 13, and also performs at the University City Starlight Concert series at Heman Park on July 22. Here’s some additional background about Jackson.
Home: I live in St. Louis; but my heart is in Harlem, N.Y.
Age: Old enough to keep it to myself!
Instruments: I’m a singer, but my 14-year-old daughter and I are taking piano lessons together. She's doing much better than I. Something to do with the "old dog, new tricks" concept I'm sure!
I work with a number of musicians.
At the Bistro, I’ll be with Kyle Kelley on piano/keyboard, John King on bass, Fred Spencer on drums and Jason Swagler on saxophone.
And at Heman Park, I’ll be performing with Brock Walters on keyboards, Terry Coleman on bass and Bwayne Smotherson on drums.
Hobbies: Great fellowship with family and friends, and of course, inhaling great music.
Last concert: As far as national acts, it was Dianne Reeves and Ahmad Jamal at the Touhill last year. I need to get out more!
I also try to catch local artists as much as possible too. There are many St. Louis artists doing some wonderful things!
Latest accomplishment: I took my daughter to Africa this past January, and I plan to take her to Japan at year's end. I'd like her to have a worldwide life perspective.
Why I do what I do: Nothing heals the soul better than music. Maya Angelou said: "People may forget what you said, they may even forget what you did, but they'll never forget how you made them feel."
Quote: "I've never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down." — Virgil Thomson, comp