Jill Jack is an American singer-songwriter from Ferndale, Michigan. As of May 2012, she has released eight albums, ranging from soul to rock, to folk and country. She leads a band of the same name. "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 (see full list) 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, 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, playing benefits and lending her name and time to organizations such as Gilda’s Club, Bras For A Cause, the Girl Scouts of the USA, and Enchanted Makeovers (serving on its board of directors). 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 campaign driven by Jill’s anthem recently took Best of Show honors at the international 2011 Mercury Excellence Awards in NYC.
2012 will see more touring, film work and charitable activities. Her performing and songwriting comments on and includes both the obvious parts of life and all those things we can’t easily discuss. In this sense, Jill Jack is reaching for one of music’s more elevated purposes—she’s touching those things within her reach, and then extending beyond what even she can see. Sky’s the limit.
Her CD Moon and the Morning After won the 2006 Detroit Music Awards for Outstanding Acoustic/Folk Recording. Writing for Allmusic, Thom Jurek called it, "an exceptionally honest rock & roll record, ... one that delivers musically as well as lyrically in spades and diamonds."
In 2012 Jill took home 3 Detroit Music Awards. Outstanding Folk Artist/Group, Outstanding Acoustic/Folk Vocalist and Outstanding Acoustic/Folk Songwriter repeating her 2011 & 2010 DMA performance .
- Watch Over Me (1997) Drum Dancer
- Too Close To The Sun (1998) Drum Dancer
- Live From Billy's Basement (1999) Drum Dancer
- The Love Hotel (2001) Drum Dancer
- Live and Unplugged (2004)
- Moon and the Morning After (2006) Uphill Productions
- Songwriter Sessions (2009) Uphill Productions
- Sunflower Girl (2012)