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Kristy Jackson Interview in honor of September 11 victims
By Jan Fabyankovic - 09/07/2008 - 07:20 PM EDT

An accomplished keyboard player and vocalist, Kristy Jackson, a BMI award winning songwriter and publisher, in attempting to put into words her personal pain and pride in her country Kristy's song, “Little Did She Know (She’d Kissed A Hero)” received airplay as the #1 most requested song on the largest New York city radio stations (PLJ, BLI, WALK, WLTW, etc.) and other major markets in the fall of 2001.

Sales of her single CD, sold exclusively over the Internet, were documented in every state of the US as well as England, Sweden, Japan, South Bogota, Taiwan, Ireland, Italy, Germany, South America, Puerto Rico, British West Indies, Israel, Mexico, UK, Canada and it exploded in Australia.

Turning down a deal with Sony, Kristy remained independent and raised over $30,000 for 9/11 charities. Not bad for an indie. The CD is available exclusively at her website: or

She spent the following two years performing the song gratis at numerous events in the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania areas honoring the victims, victims' families and those most personally affected by 9/11 and has been recognized by both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania State Legislatures for the healing effects of her song, "Little Did She Know" and done interviews with numerous radio personalities including Delilah, John Tesh, and Scott Shannon. “Body And Soul”, her 4th self produced full length CD with 11 new songs has recently been released.

 She is offering her most recent song written, "One Way To Love" as a free download at It was recently endorsed by Guideposts as they included it on their most recent newsletter. '

AS A PERFORMER: An accomplished keyboard player and vocalist , she's performed from Maui to Giants Stadium to the famous Bluebird Café in Nashville and has shared the stage with pop performers including Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, Willa Ford, and Blu Cantrell as well as songwriters Bob Malone, Michael Johnson, and the incomparable David Wilcox to name a few.

AS AN ARTIST: Her song, “Little Did She Know (She’d Kissed A Hero)” thrust her in the national spotlight when her work tape found its way to radio and quickly became the #1 most requested song on the largest radio stations in New York and other major markets in the fall of 2001. Kristy’s been featured on nationally syndicated entertainment shows, Xtra Entertainment, Inside Edition, as well as the CBS Early Morning Show with Bryant Gumbel and Jayne Clayson and NBC's Life Moments.

AS A SONGWRITER: A BMI award winning songwriter. Her songs have been recorded worldwide as well as having singles with artists on Universal, Giant and MCA Records. She is a member of BMI’s Millionaire Club with “Take It Back” (recorded by Reba McEntire) logging over 1,750,000 performances to date. AS A RECORD LABEL OWNER: Fever Pitch Music. Six releases: Including: 1.Kristy Jackson "The Best Seat In The House" 2.Kristy Jackson "Body & Soul" 3.Kristy Jackson "Little Did She Know" 4.Kristy Jackson "Blue Shades" 5.Gail Swanson "Living In A Movie" 6.Gail Swanson "Sign Of The Times"

AS A PRODUCER: Kristy produces her releases as well as co-produced rock artist Gail Swanson’s last two releases, specifically the rock side of the double CD "Living In A Movie" with special guests, Willie Nelson and Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Bros. which won the 2001 HOKU award for Rock Album Of The Year (equivalent to a Hawaiian grammy).

Miscellaneous Information:
Born: Charleston, W. Va.
Raised: Darien, CT
Resides: North Carolina

Kristy's other websites to view: - Little Did She Know Video All 4 KJ CDs are available on I-Tunes, Rhapsody, E-music, and other digital distributors. Click this link to go directly to the I-Tunes KJ Store:

Q/A Interview with Kristy Jackson

Jan: What makes a great vs. just good lyric?

Kristy: A good lyric may make you think….a great lyric makes you feel.

Jan: How long does it usually take you to write a song once you start it?

Kristy: It depends. If it’s an idea or story being crafted it usually takes longer and I tend to be more critical of it. If it’s an emotion that I’m trying to capture, I’ve either “been there” or can empathize and the writing is a lot faster. I knew that BA in Psychology would come in handy someday!

Jan: Do you focus on one song at a time or work on a few at a time?

Kristy: Musically, I record multiple ideas and re-visit them, but I tend to concentrate lyrically on one song at a time.

Jan: Did you have a songwriting mentor and/or muse?

Kristy: Life.

Jan: Approximately how much expense was involved from song idea to song pitch?

Kristy: That depends. If it’s a lyrically driven song, I feel comfortable doing a clean keyboard/vocal at my studio but if it’s a “groove” song, I hire my A-list session guys in Nashville and cut it in a studio there which usually runs between $400/$600 per song. And trust me, I don’t demo everything I write….I’ve got plenty of B-list songs in my catalog that I wouldn’t spend a dime on.

Jan: What usually comes first: hook, title, melody, lyrics etc...?

Kristy: People ask me that all the time and truthfully, it’s totally random….when I’m co-writing it’s a hook or a title…..when I’m writing alone, it’s a feeling…..

Jan: Do you co-write/collaborate? If so, do you usually collaborate with the same songwriters or with different ones? Any advice on co-writing (where you could find an established co-writer especially if you don't live in Nashville, New York, Los Angeles etc...)?

Kristy: I don’t do a lot of co-writing anymore because there are a lot of licensing opportunities and it’s easier to license songs and music if you own 100%. When I used to co-write, I co-wrote with a fairly small circle and it was always the same people. I do think co-writing is important in that it stretches you as a writer and that can only eventually make you a better writer. If you’re not in the major markets, find the nearest NSAI chapter or start going to open mike nights and you can usually find writers to co-write with.

Jan:What's your best song so far? “Little Did She Know (She’d Kissed A Hero)”

Kristy: I raised over $30,000 for 9/11 charities with that little song…..not bad for an indie. At the time, my attorney pitched it to Capitol to try and get a “big female voice” to cut it since I’d already committed to donating royalties to charity. We were told at the time (Oct. 2001) that the labels in Nashville had gotten together and absolutely no labels or artists were going to be recording anything to do with 9/11. Clearly Alan Jackson, Darryl Worley and Toby didn’t get the memo. Lol After my work tape found its way to radio and it became the #1 most requested song on the largest stations in New York, here comes Sony knocking. I didn’t answer the door. Lol I just found out recently that legendary Grammy winning icon, Patti Page has recorded the song and it’s supposed to be on her upcoming Curb CD release dropping in Aug. 2008. How cool is that!

Jan: What's your style in writing (do you write fast as the lines just flow out i.e.a few songs daily/staff writer style) or do you write slower with many re-writes to make sure your piece is perfect?

Kristy: When I write, I tend to write pretty fast, the words just come flying…

Jan: Any advice for new or partially new songwriters?

Kristy: Listen to other songwriters…they are inspiring.

Jan: Did songwriting always come natural for you?

Kristy: I’ve been doing it since I was 5, and my Mom kept the God awful tapes to prove it. lol

Jan: In your opinion, how has the music industry change through the years?

Kristy: The listening audience has the attention span of a gnat. I’ve never understood the major labels’ thinking when they release a single and wait a month to release the CD…..we are living in an “instant gratification” time and the faster you get your music into your fans’ hands, the better. There’s also too many conflict of interests in the business….labels owning their own publishing companies, producers owning publishing companies and being songwriters themselves. Why would they consider an outside publishing company for songs for their artists when they can keep it all ”in the house”. The whole music industry suffers. When was the last time you listened to commercial radio? Point made.

Jan: Do you write with a commercial slant in mind vs. just writing your true feelings?

Kristy: That’s one of the reasons I don’t live in Nashville…..I commute…and I have to tell you….when you’re in Nashville, you do get conscious of “who’s looking for an uptempo” or “who’s looking for a ballad” and I found by the end of a week there, my writing is so contrived ……anyone with a rhyming dictionary could be writing what I was writing, you know? I wasn’t bringing anything unique to the table. That’s why I like living outside of Nashville. I also really try to let the song write itself….and sometimes the song goes in a direction that’s not necessarily “radio friendly” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great song.

Jan: Do you have a daily/weekly etc... writing schedule?

Kristy: Nope … I wish I was more disciplined sometimes but fortunately I’m in a position where I only write when I feel compelled to.

Jan: How do you deal with rejection when pitching your songs?

Kristy: Music is subjective so rejection is part of the business….you may have written the most awesome ballad love song ever….but if the producer is looking for an uptempo……you’re done………You can’t take it personally. You have to be objective and be able to put your publisher hat on and take your songwriting hat off when you’re pitching.

Jan: Do you have any songs that you put aside and may later finish?

Kristy: Sometimes.

Jan: When composing music, do you ever wonder if another song is influencing you?

Kristy: I’m sure another song is always influencing me on some level …… they come from all the amazing songwriters that came before me…

Jan: Do you study various songwriters' work?

Kristy: No, I just try to listen to a lot of different genres of music.

Jan: What the best advice you were given as a songwriter?

Kristy: Write what you know and listen to a lot of styles of music.

Jan: What was the hardest obstacle to overcome while songwriting?

Kristy: Early on, it was probably editing or changing parts of a song once it was written….I was a lot younger then and thought that editing a a song was kind of like second guessing God… isn’t.

Jan: What attracted you to music?

Kristy: It was in my genes, my folks were musicians, not professional but either could have been, so music was always a part of the household.

Jan: How do you keep your creative juices going?

Kristy: I live life……writing is cyclical for me….so if I’m not inspired for whatever reason, I don’t worry about it and go about living my life and know that eventually that’ll give me something else to write about.

Jan: What's your definition of a great song? What are your favorite songs? Who are your influences in songwriting?

Kristy: Hmmmmmmmm, that’s a hard one….influences…Carole King, Donald Fagen, Bruce Hornsby, James Taylor, Rob Thomas, Rickie Lee Jones, Keith Emerson, too many to mention… Favorite song…..probably “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”

Jan: Do you feel your ideas sometimes come from another source (God, dreams, etc...)?

Kristy: I’m sure I’ll offend a few people with this answer, but I really believe that anyone can learn to “craft” a song, but only if you’re gifted and I believe that’s a gift from God, only if you’re gifted are you born to be a songwriter….

Jan: Do you always carry a paper and pen with you in case an idea occurs?

Kristy: I used to … but now I just call my own voice mail and leave a message.

Jan: Do you feel that songwriting is therapeutic?

Kristy: Absolutely, it’s my outlet…it’s the reason why so many of my songs are introspective rather than radio friendly fun happy songs. It’s my way of working through situations….

Jan: Does songwriting get easier through the years?

Kristy: The crafting probably gets easier because you do learn some “tricks” but the actual writing is a challenge of its own.

Jan: Are you a disciplined writer or just write when the mood strikes?

Kristy: I usually wait until I have something to say.

Jan: Do you take part in creative activities other than songwriting (fiction writing, poems, art etc...)?

Kristy: Nope.

Jan: Do you feel that people know you through your music?

Kristy: Oh yea, one of my CDs, “Body & Soul”, was written when I was getting my divorce….I played it for my “ex” before I published it because I was so aware that it might be too invasive for him…..he liked the CD and gave me the OK. 

Jan: What is your ideal environment for songwriting?

Kristy: There’s no ideal environment….it’s where ever I am when the idea comes.

Jan: How do you know when a song is ready to pitch? How many re-writes do you usually have?

Kristy: A song is ready to pitch when I’m absolutely sure I can’t write it better and it’s solid. If it’s lyrically driven, I’m comfortable pitching a keyboard or guitar/vocal…if it’s groove driven, I’ll hire my A-list in Nashville and get it done. I don’t do re-writes that often but I’m not adverse to doing them anymore if that’s what it takes…

Jan: How would you like to be remembered?

Kristy: Someone whose music mattered…

Jan: How is writing for your own CD different than writing for another performing artist's CD?

Kristy: I just try and write great songs….if they’re in my vocal range, they’ll usually wind up on one of my CDs, if not I’ll demo them with another vocalist and pitch it to anyone who’ll listen. lol

Jan: What’s in your I-Pod right now?

Kristy: Steve Winwood’s new CD, Nine Lives.

Jan: What are your future songwriting goals and/or dreams?

Kristy: I guess my goal is to continue to try and write solid songs that will stand the test of time so I’ll have a strong catalog and legacy to leave to my sons.

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