- 07 Nov 19
Irish country’s latest star, Pam Jackson, discusses her stunning new EP, touring with Ricky Tomlinson and the remarkable success of Nathan Carter.
Newbie Irish country star Pam Jackson isn’t just in Portlaoise to work – she actually lives in Laois, having been born in Kildare in 1977 into a family besotted with country music. As she explains, “Country music was virtually the only music around the house when I was growing up. So I learned what was to be my trade singing along to Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Pride and Susan McCann records. I was a loyal John Hogan fan too, when my school pals were into Def Leppard and Bon Jovi.”
And, in the good old country music tradition, it was Pam’s Mam who egged her on with her singing.
“Although Mammy couldn’t sing a note, she would get me to sing along to a record,” she reflects. “She’d correct me if I got a note or a word or the timing wrong, and make me do it again until it was 100% right. She had me singing on stage when I was seven, so she clearly saw something in me she felt deserved nurturing.”
Yes, but it took a while before the performing bug became too contagious for Pam to resist.
“In the initial stages,” she says, “my love for the music had me presenting the Hot Country show on the Sky TV platform, and I also presented a radio programme on Irish Country Music Radio called Jackson’s Jamboree.”
But her performance in a country music competition in 2009 had attracted the right kind of attention. She was invited to open for Georgette Jones on her Irish tour in 2011, and was to perform the same role on the tour of Ireland by Nashville husband-and-wife duo Lost Hollow. After a trip to Nashville, where she recorded a brace of songs, she released her first album Guardian Angels. But it would be fair to say she’s changed much since then.
“That album was mainly made up of traditional country songs like the Loretta Lynn hit ‘They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy Anymore’. But for the next album, I plan to include more contemporary country songs.”
The songs she sings are hugely personal to her.
“I now have to be able to relate to a song before I can sing it,” says Jackson. “The lyrics are as important as the melody. If I have a personal style, as some have suggested, then I think it comes from taking on songs that I can put my heart into. I actually turn down a lot of songs I’m offered, because they just don’t feel right.”
After touring England in 2013, the singer took time off following the birth of her daughter. She then released the single ‘My Dreams Are Having Reruns of You’.
“It had been written back in the ’60s,” she notes, “but it had never been recorded. I thought it deserved to be released and I was delighted to see my version going down so well with the fans.”
The fans are a key element in the Jackson mix too.
“When I did that sell-out tour around Ireland with Ricky Tomlinson early this year,” she reflects, “one thing that both of us insisted on was waiting back after the gig to chat to the fans, have photos taken or sign stuff. You’re nobody without your fans, and I can’t understand performers who see their fans as an inconvenience. I love talking to the fans, and so does Ricky. I absolutely love singing to people. It’s a wonderful experience every time, not least because Irish people love music.”
Jackson is in Portlaoise’s Dunamaise Theatre to shoot a clip for the song ‘Once Upon Another Time’, a track from her EP Let The Healing Start. Though the shoot is going well, there has been one disappointment.
“I’d hoped that Nathan Carter would be free to appear in it,” says ruefully. “But no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn’t get the dates to line up. I’m a huge fan of Nathan – I always enjoy meeting him and seeing him. But I’m convinced we’ll get together sooner or later. And when we do, we’ll do something magical.”
• Let The Healing Start is out now on AGR TV Records.