It’s been a big week for 16-year-old Kaitlyn Jackson. Her self-titled album came out, eight songs, all written by the country music singer from Norwich, the small city in Chenango County, some 60 miles southeast of Syracuse, N.Y.
She even had a media release sent out about the event. That’s because she’s been signed by a big-time PR place, which had this to say of that:
“Award-winning public relations and marketing firm PLA Media is pleased to announce the addition of former American Idol contestant Kaitlyn Jackson to its roster. She is joined alongside PLA’s many accomplished clients including legendary Lynn Anderson, Billboard Songwriter of the Year Phil Vassar, Grammy award-winner Bryan White, chart-topping country artist Ashton Shepherd, and the world-renowned Johnny Cash Museum. The vivacious teen, with a voice and maturity way beyond her age, will be releasing her self-titled new album on Tuesday, January 27th. The upcoming album was produced by critically-acclaimed Grammy-nominee Kent Wells and will feature eight original songs all co-written by Jackson.”
Yes, things have been happening fast in Kaitlyn Jackson’s life.
Last year at this time, Jackson found herself as part of the “American Idol” star-making-or-breaking machine, a golden ticket to the Hollywood rounds in her hands after she pleased judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. with a performance of the song “Another Angel,” which she wrote for her grandfather.
The story the then 15-year-old told them that day, about how he got sick after one of her shows, prompting her to write the song for him, and how he soon passed away after hearing it … you know that touched the hearts of the judges, and America when broadcast by FOX, too.
But as she advanced through the Hollywood rounds, FOX’s cameras stayed away. Kaitlyn discussed Hollywood and why she thought she got cutfor this post last April.
And then her life went on, rather happily and eventfully.
After spotting the above news release on her Facebook fan page, I contacted PLA and requested an email question-and-answer session with Kaitlyn, hoping to reestablish last year’s connection.
Here are the thoughtful answers returned by her publicist.
What are you most excited about with the debut?
I can’t wait for people to FINALLY hear my new music! I recorded the album over the summer and it has been killing me not being able to release it! We had some graphic design setbacks but everything is done and ready to go and I just can’t wait to hear what people have to say.
When you listened to the finished album the first time, first song to last, what did you think?
I just couldn’t believe how different it is from my first CD! I was 12 when I went to Nashville to write and record the first one and though it’s only been four years, it’s crazy how much my voice has developed. The songs on this new album are much more mature and they’re all so different! I’m excited that the CD has such diversity! I think it will really show everyone where I see myself as an artist.
How has your music changed the most from the making of this album?
My first album was kind of experimental but I think the music on this album really shows who I am as a person and an artist. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it!
How has the making of this album changed your life, your personality, if at all?
It was amazing getting to write and record a second CD in Nashville. Getting to work with such talented co-writers and musicians is a truly humbling and inspiring experience. I can’t wait to keep working and improving.
Are you still very tight-knit with the Norwich and Chenango County community?
My community is so wonderful and supportive. I am still very involved in community events and am currently in Norwich High School’s production of Mary Poppins, as Mary herself, which will be performed April 10, 11 and 12. I am so lucky to have such a great support system. They encourage me to keep pushing to further my career every day.
How is school going?
School is a little crazy … Being a full-time student, dancer, the lead in a musical, and taking all AP classes, on top of other extracurricular activities, and trying to pursue a career in music can be a little difficult to juggle at times. My classes are getting harder as the year goes on but I just keep telling myself that all my hard work will pay off in the end! Though a lot of people have suggested I switch to online schooling to alleviate a little bit of stress, I honestly wouldn’t trade my high school experience for the world. I have some amazing friends and teachers and sometimes it’s nice just to be a kid in the midst of pursuing my career. I love singing the National Anthem at basketball games, going to school dances (my junior prom is coming up this May!), and taking on leadership roles (class president, motivational speaker for area school students, etc.).
Do you wish you had the chance to audition for “American Idol” this year?
I am very happy with my success on last season of American Idol. It really was a great experience. As much as I would have liked to audition for this season, I think it worked out for the best. I got to really focus on my CD and the challenges of my junior year. I also will have had that much longer to improve my voice so I can really come back with a bang if I do decide to audition for the show again at some point.
Have you gotten the chance to watch it this season, and how did it make you feel if you did? Did you see Central New Yorker Kohlton Pascal’s audition, and what did you think if you did?
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to catch too much of this season. I’ve been really busy getting the CD together, and attending dance classes and musical rehearsals while trying to balance homework… However, I did catch Kohlton’s audition! I love his voice! It’s so unique and mysterious! He reminds me a lot of Caleb Johnson, last season’s winner!
Would you think of auditioning for ‘AI’ or any of the other singing shows in the future?
AI was a lot of fun but it was super stressful. It was well worth it though! I would definitely consider trying out again or for something else but I’ll have to see where life takes me!
What’s next for your career?
I’ve really been focused on getting the album together recently but it’s finally out! Now, I’m going to be taking as many performance opportunities as I can. I have recently signed on with PLA Media and I am hoping to work with a radio promoter (and maybe find an investor for that… making a CD and promoting a single is expensive!). I can’t wait to see what opportunities are ahead of me! Thank you for your time and interest. ☺
Here’s a YouTube clip of the video for Kaitlyn Jackson’s original song “All the Little Things.”
I think it’s smart and silky and slick, put together with the pretty and sophisticated touches needed to stand up against mature works in the country music world, but also connecting with the genuine pleasure that this teen from Chenango County in upstate New York finds in her life. And yes, she’s got a killer voice.
Here’s the link to Kaitlyn Jackson’s web site.
Here’s the link to Kaitlyn Jackson’s Facebook page.
Does a teen singer finding this kind of success surprise you in this day and age, and do you think it’s a good thing for the teen and the music fan? What do you think about taking a year off from trying for “American Idol” again to make an album instead? What’s your opinion of Kaitlyn’s YouTube song?