Written by | Ray Cornelius
Singer extraordinaire Keisha Jackson hosted her annual Vocal Workshop on Saturday at Outkast’s famed Stankonia Studios in Atlanta, GA. Over 40 aspiring singers and songwriters from across the country packed the hall for an intimate afternoon of seminars, vocal training and Q&A sessions with some of the hottest names in music. Jackson is one of the industry’s most sought after background vocalists and is the daughter of R&B Soul music legend, Millie Jackson. An accomplished performer in her own right, Jackson has worked with such musical luminaries as Toni Braxton, Bobby Brown, Angie Stone, Erykah Badu, The Dungeon Family, Outkast and the late Whitney Houston. For Jackson, her workshop is a passion project that she hopes will equip and inspire the next generation of superstars.
Keisha Jackson helps group with “Tone…Pitch…Blend”
“Ultimately my goal for today is to spread knowledge about the music industry. I get asked a lot of times, ‘How can I do what you do?’ There are so many talented people out there that don’t know where to begin. Most of the time, we [artists] only use people in our cliques but what about the girl working at Waffle House, who can sing her face off but doesn’t know where to start? She’s the one that will be on time and show up because she’s hungry and ambitious. Too many times it’s the “friend of a friend” that we hire who doesn’t show up on time and feels some sort of entitlement. I would really like to break that cliquish chain and bring back real singing, starting from the background and working my way on up,” said Jackson.
Debra Killings talking about transitioning from a background singer to a solo artist
The rising entrepreneur said she is looking for an arsenal of singers that she can hire out to industry professionals. She is also prepping to take her workshop on the road in 2015 with stops in other major cities like Washington D.C., Chicago, Miami and New York.
Saturday’s workshop also featured celebrity panelists including noted singer and songwriter, Traci Hale, who has worked with Keith Sweat, Aaliyah, Brandy, Mya and Rihanna. Former LaFace background singer and bass guitarist, Debra Killings reminisced about her days of recording with TLC while Sunday Best Season 6 Contestant, Paula Champion encouraged the group and performed her version of the Marvin Gaye classic, “What’s Going On.” Jackson followed up by telling each attendee to remain humble, grind and keep integrity first.
“The casting couch doesn’t really exist in the industry anymore but people will have you to believe it in order to get from you what they want. You still won’t get hired and you’re not going to get the referrals. Integrity is really important and will last longer than what’s between your legs,” said Jackson.
Paula Champion blessed the audience with her rendition of the Marvin Gaye classic, “What’s Going On”
Jackson said she is also concerned that too many young artists want overnight success but are afraid to put in the work. The mother of two feels that it’s paramount to always be ready to perform and know the lyrics to songs when auditioning. She is currently promoting her new single, “Give You My All” and just finished touring with Outkast as part of their 20th Anniversary Celebration. While she admits that every city had something special about it, there was nothing like performing at home in the A-T-L.
“My favorite part in the show is ‘throw yo hands in the air and wave em like just don’t care. If you like fish and grits and you like pimp shit, everybody say ‘Oh Yeah.’’ (LOL) That was the most amazing thing to me because there would be a sea of hands going back and forth. To see 80,000 to 100,000 people do that every night was the most powerful moment of every performance!”
Check out more photos below from the workshop:
Music was provided by DJ Swiff
Attendees listening to speakers
Keisha Jackson’s Vocal Workshop was presented by One Voice Entertainment and YURBUDS
Paula Champion stopped to pose for the camera #yassss
Traci Hale taking a selfie
Singers traveled far and wide to participate in the workshop
Male trio singing a song by D’Angelo
Trio singing song from the gospel group, The Walls
Quartet singing Braxton Family Values’ theme-song
Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com