LONDON : A self-proclaimed "old soul", U.S. jazz artist Judi Jackson has come a long way since she discovered her vocal talents singing in church in her home state of Virginia.
"From around the age of like 10 or 12, I started to really pick it up seriously and study with a vocal coach... and work with little bands in my community," the 29-year-old told Reuters in an interview.
"My biological parents are both very creative and very musical. They did separate and I was adopted, which kind of opened my world in a way to many different styles of music, many different walks of life. And I was able to connect with a lot of different people at a very young age," she said of her childhood.
Inspired by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, as a teenager Jackson recorded a track for music ensemble Snarky Puppy and opened for Grammy award winning blues and gospel singer Mavis Staples.
Now signed to Sony Music and based in London, she has played prestigious venues like Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club and is currently doing select festivals and gigs following the release of her new album "Grace" earlier this year.
"If the music doesn't have soul, what are you really doing? So all of my music has to come from that place initially," Jackson said.
She describes "Grace" as a "bluesy, soulful rock n' roll, torch song experience" with lyrics exploring themes such as her relationship with her biological mother on the title track to the idea of letting go of "things that no longer serve you" in song "River".
"Sometimes you have people in your life that help you. They make you strong. They're there for you. But it's only for a season... you realise you've either outgrown them or it's just not a right fit for you anymore. And the freedom of being able to let go of that and let it flow like a river," she said.
Jackson says she would love to play at the Glastonbury music festival, having once seen the late Amy Winehouse perform there.
"It's just iconic... I'm sure it will happen," she said.