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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wanda Jackson at the Orbit Room 5/15

Rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson loves what she does. She counts her blessings for having made it this far in her decades-long career, and she gets a kick out of Betty White. She is a 2009 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Early Influences category) and counts Elvis Presley as one of her former admirers.

Ask why music lovers who come out to her live shows still like to hear songs written 50 years ago, you’ll get this response.

“This music says America--rockabilly and ‘50s rock,” says Jackson on her way to a tour stop in Buffalo.

"I think songs like this will live on, really, forever because it's just classic and good stuff. Clean and innocent--for the most part. This music is so opposite from the stuff they're doing today. Not everybody likes what they're doing today. That's where we fill in a gap."

Jackson has been filling musical gaps all along, even forging her own way back in the ‘50s when it came to onstage fashion. She was one of the first to start wearing fringe dresses, high heels, and jangly earrings as part of her country singing act.

“I was the first to break barriers, whatever you want to call it. I had been wearing traditional cowboy attire. But I never did like because it was heavy and cumbersome. I didn’t look good in it. I’m only five foot one. It was just too heavy.”

“I told my mother who was always my seamstress that I wanted to come up with something that was showy but sexier, more glamorous. So we got our heads together, found this silk print, and decided that was the way we were going to go. I was the first one to get out of boots and hats,” says Jackson.

Her hour-long set with her band the Lustre Kings will showcase her influential singing style.

“I feel so lucky. I’ve always loved a variety of music. Even when I listen to it for pleasure I play a variety of styles. I feel fortunate that I could record it first of all, that my producer let me stretch and get outside the borders a little bit. This helped me in my career later on because now I have audiences in gospel, country, and rockabilly—I prefer to call it ‘50s rock.”

“Country and ‘50s rock are like kissing cousins. Anyone who likes one usually likes the other. It makes for a good varied show; I always get comments about the variety of material that I do. I even throw in a yodel to go with the gospel, country ballads, and Elvis songs,” says Jackson.


Wanda Jackson with The Lustre Kings, wsg The Rhythm Dogs (local) and DJ Del Villarreal (Ann Arbor), appear at the Orbit Room in Grand Rapids on May 15 at 7:30pm.

More info: http://www.orbitroom.com/

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