Interview: The Queen of Rockabilly chats Americana Awards honor, â€˜The Party Ainâ€™t Over,â€™ shock and awe
There are few people -- let alone women -- on earth who can claim to have toured with Elvis Presley and held their own. Few musicians can enjoy a third or fourth act to their career, let alone a second. Even fewer are rockers, then gospel singers, then punk icons, Rock And Roll Hall of Famers and celebrated Americana artists.
Honestly, there is no one like Wanda Jackson.
Tomorrow night (Sept. 9), the Americana Music Association is presenting the 72-year-old Queen of Rockabilly with a lifetime achievement award. Jackson admits she’ll be foregoing the fringe, over-the-top dresses and the high heels that made her a fashion idol in the ‘50s and ‘60s (hell, today) as she takes to the stage in Nashville to perform and accept her honor.
“Now I’ll be even shorter,” she sighed during our phone interview.
But she has a reason to at least be sitting a little taller. Her covers album “The Party Ain’t Over,” produced by Jack White
, will be out in January, and Nonesuch Records has picked up the release.
It’s what Jackson calls a “showcase” record, with tunes from all decades, from rock ‘n’ roll to country to a gospel standard, a Bob Dylan track and a yodel song. Jackson’s mum on specific titles – aside from the previously released “You Know I’m No Good” / “Shakin’ All Over” single
, out earlier this year on White’s Third Man Records – because, “Jack asked very nicely, but strictly, ‘Don’t be talkin’ about the album.’ He loves to surprise. He’s like shock and awe.”
“I just turned the whole project over to him. I want his stamp on it. So much was all his decisions. I want him to pick out the photos, I wanted him to select the title.”
Jackson seemed pleased, too, at the decision to go with Nonesuch which, like Third Man, is distributed by Warner Bros. Though she didn’t seem too concerned.
“I don’t really know much about it,” she said.
“Oh, that’s good to hear.”
The Americana Awards appears to be the perfect time to begin promoting the set, considering White is on board to present. Jackson says she expects an announcement with more album details to arrive soon after, and that she and White would like to get the word out together somehow.
And it’ll be ripe time. Recording the effort wrapped this past winter. The promo shots have long been selected, the album cover’s ready and the set’s mixed. A single between now and January should satisfy fans in waiting. As Jackson teases, “It’s all sitting right there.”
We’re ready, Ms. Jackson. Let’s have a party.
Check back into HitFix and Immaculate Noise this month for a feature on Jack White and his projects with notable women – from the White Stripes to Loretta Lynn to the newly inked Secret Sisters.