Alexandra Jackson

Given the breadth and depth of Legacy & Alchemy, Jackson’s background makes her the perfect actor to tell the story. As the youngest daughter of Atlanta’s first African-American mayor, the late Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr., and businesswoman and NPR personality Valerie Richardson Jackson, she comes from a musical family. She learned piano as a child and studied classical music, but at home she was influenced by classic music that surrounded her. “My father would play music by the Blind Boys of Alabama then move on to Take 6,” she says. “My mother loved Johnny Hartman and Phoebe Snow. And I was into Earth Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson and Maxwell. My older sister had a strong connection to Latin culture, so I heard a lot of Celia Cruz, Mark Anthony and Gloria Estefan.” Opera also played a role in her family, given that Jackson’s grand aunt was Mattiwilda Dobbs, the African-American coloratura soprano, who was one of the first black singers to enjoy a major international career in opera. After experimenting with choral and musical theater, Jackson dove into jazz, attending the University of Miami’s Studio Music and Jazz Vocal program. “There was a lot of energy and the influence of a lot of different cultures. That’s what Miami is all about,” she says. “In my classes, I was in jazz ensembles. One was a Brazilian ensemble and another was a salsa ensemble, so I came to appreciate all these forms of music that were new to me.” She adds: “Latin and Brazilian songs are among my favorites to sing to this day.” After moving to Los Angeles for a stretch, she returned to Atlanta and continued to pursue her jazz-singing career. In 2013, she made it to the stage of the Atlanta Jazz Festival as the opening act for jazz/pop/rap singer-songwriter and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello (“That was a huge honor,” she says). At one point during her set, she sang in Portuguese the milestone bossa nova tune “The Girl From Ipanema.” In the audience was Hebert, who had known Jackson since she was a child. He talked with her afterward and noted that he loved her songs that brought together Brazilian music, American jazz and soul, and London soul jazz. “Robert asked me what my career plans were,” she says. “I think what drew him to me was my passion as a singer. But, while he had this specific project in mind, he never thought of an American singer for it. So he held that back for what turned out to be over a year. In that time, he explored what my musical interests were. Then, about 16 months later, when he felt confident that my natural interests and abilities dovetailed with his vision for this project, only then did he say: ‘This is what we should do, and, this is why we should do it.’ That turned into this album.” from

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