Jill King

Born: 1974, Arab, AL

In 1997 she secured a publishing contract with Gate to Gate Publishing and has since penned over 200 songs, some of which appear on her release: "Jillbilly".

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Photo of Jill KingJill King doesn’t just sing a song, she inhabits it, pouring her heart and soul into every note. On her new album, RAIN ON FIRE (Foundher Records; April 6, 2010), King pushes the limits with inspired performances that leave an indelible impression, even after a single listen. She moans the blues with a wrenching growl, screams like an unruly woman on a late-night bender, sighs like a lover whispering an early-morning lullaby and belts out rockers with the ferocity of a revival tent preacher. “I grew up in a small Southern town with black and white, right and wrong, and heaven and hell always clashing,” King says. “My desire to reconcile those experiences is what ties the songs on RAIN ON FIRE together.”

 

RAIN ON FIRE covers a lot of ground, drawing from the deep Southern well of blues, rock, pop, country, jazz, R&B and folk. King deftly puts them together to create her own easily identifiable but hard to define style. “When I started working on this album, songs came flowing out of me,” King says. “I wrote constantly for six months, almost as if I were channeling [the songs]. I listened to what was coming from my heart and let the music take me where it wanted me to go.”

The writing was an emotional experience, intensified by the deaths of Bruce Holloway, one of her co-writers, and Miss Glenda, the childhood mentor King identifies as a second mother. “Making the album helped me to come to terms with all that loss and made me consider the unresolved conflicts in my life and the lives of my friends,” she says. “I looked at the hard times that happened to me, and because of me, and let the music heal me. Salvation hits you when you least expect it. It can come from anyone you meet, as well as your higher power.”

To realize her musical vision, King worked with Australian producer and guitarist Michael Flanders (Garrison Star, Kane Harrison, Bobkatz). “The second I saw Michael play, I knew he would get the sounds I was hearing in my head onto the album,” King says. “When we met, we hit it off and it’s been fantastic. Mike has a thick Aussie accent and I have a thick Southern accent, but we understand each other musically. We have a lot of the same ideas and called on each other to make the music as good as it could be.”

The music on RAIN ON FIRE is very good indeed. The album opens with two ironic love songs. “Beautiful World” is an optimistic tune that doesn’t ignore love’s difficulties before finding a hopeful resolution. Flanders provides a chiming guitar hook for it. The bluesy folk-pop of “California” nods to the singer-songwriter vibe of the 1970s, with a laid-back rhythm track and King’s mellow vocal.

King ups the emotional ante with “Undertow,” generating sizzling erotic heat without being explicit. The song opens with an ominous guitar line from Flanders that complements King’s impressive vocal, a wrenching balance of vulnerability and desire. The gritty, swampy blues of “Mark on Me” is introduced by a few words from Steven Johnson, grandson of blues legend Robert Johnson, and incorporates elements of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroad Blues” and a rap by V. Mayz. King wrestles with the devil as she sings of the struggle between heaven and hell, with a soulful power that’s enhanced by the backing of a female gospel trio.

King takes listeners inside a revival tent for “16 Elephants,” a vaguely unsettling song of salvation with a carnival-like atmosphere enhanced by a Hammond B3. The track builds slowly with King’s vocal climbing to a sanctified wail of thanksgiving. “God My Father” addresses the ambivalent feelings that can color one’s perception of religion and family relationships. It rides a sinister swampy groove, with one foot in heaven and one in hell, with King’s chilling vocal full of understated emotion.

Other winners include “Didn’t You Know,” a bittersweet song of first love with an aching lyric and one of King’s most wistful vocals; “Taking Me Back,” a Latin-flavored exploration of true love’s rocky road, with subtle Norteño accordion and Flanders’ guitar providing Flamenco accents; and the title track, an unrequited love song that rides a funky beat with a sexy, uplifting chorus augmented by a lush string quartet.

King and Flanders laid down the rhythm tracks at Austin’s Congress House with engineer Mark Hallman and then added the ear candy and King’s vocals at a leisurely pace to create the set’s gripping, expansive sound. “The process was full of serendipity and wonderful coincidences, including our meeting with Robert Johnson’s grandson, Steven,” King says. “This isn’t a country album or a pop album, although I know people will label it. It’s just what was in my heart, captured as honestly as possible. We invited all the players to find their own space in the music, and they did. It was a great process.”

HISTORY

Singer-songwriter-producer-guitarist King was born and raised in the small town of Arab, Ala. She wanted to be singer before she could walk or talk. “I’ve always wanted to perform and I have, since I was little,” King says. “My mother told me when I was 18 months old riding in the car, I’d start singing so high-pitched my daddy would roll down the windows. I don’t know if it was a song, but it was loud.”

At the age of 3, King was singing solos in the church her grandfather helped build. “My grandfather liked gospel music and sang ‘I’ll Fly away.’ My dad was a chicken farmer and now is a preacher that owns and runs a plastic bag company. My mom was a third-grade schoolteacher. Today, she has an antique business. I had cousins in gospel quartets, and my grandmother was a yodeler and sang at fiddling conventions, but there wasn’t a musical environment in our home. I sang in church and listened to Top 40 radio.”

At 10, King took first place in an Our Little Miss pageant. “I liked doing the pageants because I got to sing. When I won, The New York Daily News called me up for an interview. I was thinking ‘I’m 10, and I’ve made it’.” She’d also discovered guitar and started writing songs. “I had an Ovation bow-back that I could hardly keep on my lap,” she says. “I started writing as soon as I knew a few chords. My dad knew a bit about music and encouraged me. When I was 10, he helped me record my first songs at a local studio.”

In high school, King played guitar and sang in a FFA bluegrass band that won a regional title. She moved to Nashville in 1992 and majored in English at Vanderbilt University. “After school I worked part-time jobs and started writing on The Row. When I didn’t have a co-write, I’d go to IHOP to work on songs. One day a customer asked me what I was doing. It was Mark Gray, who wrote ‘The Closer You Get’ for Alabama. He told me he was starting a publishing company and asked to see what I was writing.” Gray liked what he saw and, upon graduation, King signed on as a staff writer for Gate to Gate Publishing. She wrote 200 songs for Gray and played open-mics at night. “My favorite was Jack’s Guitar bar, a great dive. Jack was a quirky music lover. His mom was a concert pianist and his dad a bioengineer. He had classical music on the jukebox, and the regulars included Jim Lauderdale and Kim Richey and Keith Urban. Patty Griffin played Jack’s before she broke through. My manager, John Leal, used to hang out there.”

King was also doing demo sessions for her co-writers and dealing with her brother’s illness; he eventually died of cancer. During that time, she became a regular at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, the club that gave songwriters such as Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, Roger Miler and Terri Clark their first exposure. “I played an afternoon audition, and they asked me to come back that night. The regular headliner didn’t show up, and they asked me to pay a set. When I asked how long the set was, they said four hours. I talked to the guys in the band and made a list of every song I’d ever sung in the shower or heard on the radio and got through it. I got a regular slot for two years on Thursdays from 6 to 10.” King also filled on the 2-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-2 a.m. shifts.

King met her partners in Blue Diamond Records at Tootsie’s and cut her first album, JILLBILLY, for the company in 2003. “We were managers, publicists, promotion staff, bookers and artists and put together tours of France, Sweden and Japan.” JILLBILLY earned great reviews, with critics raving about the album’s honky-tonk rockabilly flavor and King’s powerful singing and fine songwriting. The first single, “One Mississippi,” made the Billboard, R&R and Music Row charts, and the video went into medium rotation at GAC. Her second album, SOMEBODY NEW, was co-produced by King and Derek Bason (Engineer for Reba, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Rascal Flatts) and got good reviews, but it was completed and came out in early 2008, just as Blue Diamond was imploding. “I’m proud of what we did, but we were all new to the business and couldn’t get things in line, although ignorance is no excuse,” King says firmly.

Not one to look back, King assembled a new creative team and launched Foundher Records. She began writing, and in a creative frenzy, the songs that became RAIN ON FIRE came pouring out. King and Flanders will tour heavily with a band and King will reinstate jillking.com to support the album. “I’ll have a blog,” she says, “and there will be more of a two-way conversation with fans to build a community. Music has always helped me. It makes me feel less alone in the hard and easy times and connects me to the world outside of myself. That’s what I want my music to do for other people.”

Source: http://www.jillking.com/

http://www.myspace.com/jillkingofficial

More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jill_King

Image of album by Jill KingRain On Fire, Jill KingSomebody New, Jill King

Listen: http://www.cdbaby.com/Search/amlsbCBraW5n/0

Listen: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/jill-king/id5620991

Listen: http://www.amazon.com/Jillbilly-Jill-King/dp/B00008OM4W

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ouhw9u-iWY

 

 

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