Behind her seeming vulnerability, Jackie Daum is a fearless independent songwriter with a dynamic, blues-inflected voice that belies her 5’1” frame. While her songwriting remains rooted in pop and folk, she cites deceased blues-rocker, Chris Whitley, as a major vocal and lyrical influence. One critic describes her music as “A little bit country, pop, and soul. Jackie’s voice soars…”
Born and raised in the fertile Sacramento Valley, Jackie grew up camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at her grandfather’s ranch near Truckee, CA. Her affection for nature is evident on her debut album, The Sky Inside. “The songs are strongly connected to a sense of place,” she remarks. “I love to take walks and observe my natural surroundings. Eventually that imagery finds its way into lyrics.” The inspiration for the song Landfall struck while perched in a Pecan tree in her Austin, TX backyard, and the opening track, Cottonwood, is filled with symbols of the Southwest.
A true gypsy at heart, Jackie has lived all over the West from San Diego to Seattle, building a steady fan base along the way. Rarely staying in the same place for longer than a year, she recounts the exception of her Seattle condo, which she lived in for a year and a half while she remodeled and flipped it for a profit. During that time, she worked as a real estate agent by day and spent her evenings playing gigs and demolishing her kitchen and bathroom. “It was very therapeutic ripping out old cupboards and chiseling tile,” she laughs. “The only thing that kept me motivated was the idea that I would use the proceeds to record my album.”
Abandoning her real estate career in 2008, Jackie sold her Seattle condo and all her personal belongings to write and record her debut full-length album in Austin, TX. What resulted is a beautiful collection of love songs entitled The Sky Inside. Central themes of nature, longing and desire, and making peace with the past while living in the present, are skillfully woven throughout. The San Diego Troubadour says, “Daum sings with an assurance that belies the fact that this is her debut recording. The Sky Inside gets better with repeat listening.” Produced by Billy Harvey (Steve Poltz, Bob Schneider) and backed by Austin’s A-List Session Players, J.J. Johnson (drums, John Mayer) and George Reiff (bass, Jakob Dylan, Chris Robinson), it’s no surprise that The Sky Inside has won the hearts of fans and critics. Standout tracks such as Going To New Mexico, Rock Stars, and You Give Me Air, have been featured on radio stations from KGSR Austin to KPRI San Diego, and community radio stations from KMUN Astoria, OR to KZFR Chico, CA.
Daum approached the writing process with a quiet determination, sequestering herself in a small, scarcely furnished house in Austin, sleeping on a mattress she found on the side of the road, and writing feverishly on a Yamaha upright piano. Immersing herself in the vibrant local music scene, she never lacked for inspiration. She worked part-time as a waitress at Botticelli’s, an Italian restaurant next door to the renowned Continental Club on South Congress Avenue. “After work, I’d head upstairs to The Gallery and listen to artists like David Garza. I’d be so inspired, I couldn’t wait to get home and write songs. Austin was a prolific time for me.”
Currently Jackie is playing shows in California and working on a new album called Say Loreto, due out in 2012. While on tour earlier this year, Jackie was introduced to guitarist, Dave Elke. “Dave sat in on one of my sets and we had an instant musical chemistry. It’s like we’d been playing together for years.” Trusting her instincts, she invited Dave to play guitar and co-produce the new material. Armed with a B.A. degree in Audio Engineering, radical DIY resourcefulness, meticulous Virgo nature, and a roster of ready-and-willing musicians, Jackie is eager to take a stab at co-producing. “I want to be more involved in the recording process on this new album. I’ve always enjoyed being hands on in the studio.” Songs from the upcoming album will include fan favorites: Paper Thin, Pioneer, and of course, Say Loreto.
Earlier this year, after touring the west coast and landing in Chico, CA, Jackie won the KZFR Celebration of The Song competition, which earned her a performance at The Sierra Nevada Big Room and two slots at the WorldFest Festival. She also had the opportunity to open for Tim & Nicki Bluhm in April this year and will be touring in support of Jackie Bristow this August.
At age 30, Jackie is embracing her ideals more than ever. “In the past, I struggled to find a balance between being an independent musician and finding a way to pay the bills. I’ve soldered cables for a living, worked as a horseback riding trail guide, worked on a boat, worked in restaurants and real estate, and I always come back to making music. Or maybe it would be safer to say that music makes me.” She confesses that her love of music shapes who she is. Her growing interest in self-sufficient living, straw bale building, and her quest to become completely debt free are all motivated by her desire to spend more time on the road. “At some point in your life, I guess you have to decide what is really important and what you must give up to do what you love. Turning 30 was an eye opener for me. I’m more willing to sacrifice comfort and conformity than I was in my 20s.”
With newfound dedication to her craft and confidence that only comes with maturity, Jackie Daum is quickly rising among the ranks of independent singer songwriters.