Ali McGhee is a journalist, creative writer, and academic. Her work has appeared in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Romantic Circles, Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary...
There's no mistaking Jackie Venson's soulful voice and no-holds-barred guitar playing. The Austin-based musician grew up under the tutelage of musical parents—her father, Andrew Venson, was a renowned performer in the Austin scene, and her mother provided an entry point to the piano and instilled the value of regular practice. Venson, who studied at the Berklee College of Music, embraced the guitar in her last year there before returning home to make a splash in Texas. Now she's bringing her vibrant sound and high energy to Asheville. She opens for the legendary Gary Clark Jr., on Wednesday, July 19th, at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in the US Cellular Center. We've got a pair of tickets to the show, and you can enter to win them by leaving a comment on this post on Facebook. We'll announce the winner on Monday, July 17th.
Venson's musical upbringing was the first in a series of steps that led her back to Austin as a young adult after college, where she immersed herself in the local music scene. In 2014, the city even held a "Jackie Venson Day" that celebrated women in music and raised funds for the Dub Academy Youth Production Program. When you have a conversation with Venson, it's easy to see why a city would name an entire day after her. Charismatic and warm, quick to laugh and filled with stories, she has a personality made for the stage. And when she performs, she carries her conversational, easy energy with her, combining it with some really, really big guitar.
Venson followed her 2014 album, The Light in Me, with a live album that showcases the upbeat energy of her shows. She's about to release an EP that she's entering in the Grammies. So Asheville, now's your chance to hear a Grammy contender before she opens for a living legend (you'd better get on it).
I talked with Venson about the lessons she learned from her father, the influence of hip hop on her music, and the fact that she will take—and listen to—your demo tape.