Perseverance and belief that God called her to
sing paid off for Nancey Jackson, whose debut album with Harmony Records released last
Free (Yes, Im Free) is receiving play on both gospel and contemporary
Christian stationsas well as some general market formatsthanks in part to
producer Loris Holland, known for his work with artists such as Mariah Carey, Patti
Labelle and Bam Crawfords Purpose. For Jackson, signing the record deal, sprinkling
the contract with tears, and recording the album were the culmination of years of
"Id been disappointed so many times, and been to that point of people
saying, Were going to sign you," says Jackson, 29, a resident of
Roselle, New Jersey. "Through it all, I said, God, if this was meant to be,
then You let it happen."
For Jackson, the release of a studio project signals a new step for a career that began
at age 6 with the choir at St. Johns M.E.R. Church, where her father has pastored
for 40 years. After years of performing solos, the Rev. Milton Biggham discovered Jackson
at St. Johns and gave her the opportunity to sing with Bishop Jeff Banks and the
Revival Temple Mass Choir, based in Newark, New Jersey. Additional singing opportunities
included background vocal work with artists such as Carey, Tramaine Hawkins, Dorothy
Norwood, Ashford & Simpson, BeBe Winans, the GMWA National Choir and the GMWA Women of
Worship Choir. Jackson also performed live with Carey at the 1994 Grammy Awards and a few
other select events.
"It was about 1988 when I really tried and said, I want to do this for a
living. I want to sing. A couple of years ago, I realized this wasnt just
about music. This is a ministry," Jackson says.
Holland signed Jackson to his production company and brought her to the attention of
Raina Bundy, head of Harmony Records. "(Holland) is extraordinary," Jackson
"When we started working together, I was so afraid. I thought, This
guys a genius. He made me feel very comfortable; we had a lot of fun.
Hes really concerned about how I take care of my gift. I had vocal lessons every day
before I recorded. He co-wrote a lot of songs with me and really encouraged me to
Jackson says the album displays the versatility of her singing gift while hopefully
appealing to a broad audience. "Its a world message to everyone. I really do
want to see gospel and Christian music come together on both sides, so I wanted to do both
of those styles of music on my album. And theres no compromising; the name of Jesus
is definitely lifted. Theres no doubt whom Im singing about."