Sunday September 10th, 8pm, The Workman’s Cellar
Singular Artists proudly present Kara Jackson for their highly anticipated headline show at The Workman’s Cellar, Sunday 10th September 2023.
Kara Jackson wants to be dangerous. Wielding her voice like a honey-coated blade, Kara crafts a blend of emotional folk music and poetic alt-country. With the radical honesty of Nina Simone, and the intricate lyricism of Fiona Apple and Joana Newsom, Kara’s writing blurs the line between poetry and song, demanding an attentive ear and a repeat listen.
Raised by country folk and Black feminist poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Lucille Clifton, Kara’s songs have the softness and warmth of a southern drawl, while still being sharp enough to cut deep. Born and raised in Oak Park, IL, a community 10 miles west of Chicago, with a Southern sensibility imbued by their parent’s background, her innate talent was unlocked early on honing her skills for music and writing from a very young age. At five years old she began piano lessons; she later taught themself guitar and eventually her passion for poetry took full force during high school. It was then that she began to be appreciated as the Black Queer polymath that she is, earning the prestigious and coveted honour of being 2019’s National Youth Poet Laureate and releasing her debut EP A Song for Every Chamber of the Heart in the same year.
In her poem the world is about to end and my grandparent are in love Kara ruminates: “when the world ends will it suck the earth of all its love? Will i go taking somebody’s hand?”, and it’s these same themes that she explores on their EP A Song for Every Chamber of the Heart – a four track tender offering of acoustic meditations on love and desire.
Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love, Kara’s debut album, out 3rd March 2023 via September Recordings, continues in their already signature style: asking open ended questions; the meandering process of trying to answer them leaves us pause for thought. Specifically, Kara’s debut album is a sonic invitation to process our grief. The title is a question the author is always answering. How do we give ourselves permission to yearn for the people we miss? How do we find the courage to let go of what begs to be released? How do we have the audacity to love in spite of everything invented to deter us from it?
Kara wrote and recorded the original demos in her childhood bedroom during the early days of the pandemic, drafting lyrics in bed and singing into a mic propped up on her dresser. From there she enlisted close friends and fellow artists Nnamdi, KAINA and Sen Morimoto to re-record the demos and help shape the production. It feels fitting that this collection of songs about love and relationships were created with a tight-knit group of musician friends in a time of such uncertainty and loss.
As a songwriter, Kara fuses her poetic sensibilities with the rich musical heritage of her family’s Southern roots. Her voice is a river of molasses tumbling over gently plucked guitar. Sparse acoustic moments and soaring string sections create space for Kara to use the full architecture of her voice, with clear high notes and devastating low tones. The album’s tracks are not beholden to traditional song structure. Instead, language leads the way. The thick lyricism is intentional, as Kara says, “There’s so many words on this project, it’s important for me that people know I can write things, maybe in ways they aren’t used to seeing.”
It takes a masterful artist to know how to break the right rules, and Kara’s songs subvert expectations in the most rewarding ways. Her storytelling is stacked with vibrant imagery and lyrics that feel like part journal entry, part breakup letter, part prayer to a lost loved one. The debut includes lines that stick in your head like a sage elder’s advice. On “brain” Kara sings, “if your fear is what comes first / you’ll run from love you deserve.” Songs like “therapy” and “dickhead blues” have a tongue-in-cheek humor that wards off lovers who don’t deserve her time & energy.
The artists Kara admires most are also “people who drink and talk shit,” people who experience life fully as a part of their creative practice. How lucky we are that Kara pays such close attention to her life, to her heart, to the people and places most dear to her. The magic of her debut album is in its ability to carry listeners through the most trying emotional depths, so that we arrive on the other side somehow wiser and more new.
Connect with Kara Jackson: