Jackie Venson Is Amplifying the Voices of the Black Community Through Her Music
"It's the spirit of fighting, it's the spirit of perseverance," she said of her hit song "Fight" during :BLACKPRINT's Juneteenth, Celebrating Freedom virtual festival
Jackie Venson is an Austin, Texas-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who is a trailblazer in her own right in the music industry. Not only has she opened shows for the likes of Gary Clark Jr., Aloe Blacc, and Citizen Cope, but she is an activist in her hometown and beyond.
The 31-year-old grew up as a classically trained pianist, but the guitar caught her eye after graduating from Berklee College of Music. She then transitioned to performing her own mix between the blues, R&B, and soul music paired with lyrics that speak to the Black community.
Just in the last decade, she was the first Black woman named as the "Best Guitarist" at the Austin Music Awards in the show's nearly 40-year history. And she is committed to ensuring other Black people are being seen and properly represented along the way.
Venson made her debut on the national television stage during the Austin City Limits live stream in October 2020. While performing, she wore a custom dress designed with the names of African Americans who have been killed at the hands of the police.
"Black Lives Matter. It's not just a slogan or a hashtag, it's me, it's my family, it's my friends, it's real people, with real lives," she wrote on Twitter. "This is the dress I'll be wearing tonight for my national TV debut, designed by my sister. Say their names."
The artist brought her talents to a recent appearance on the :BLACKPRINT Juneteenth, Celebrating Freedom virtual festival, an event put on by Meredith Corporation's Black Employee Resource Group to commemorate 156 years of Black freedom through musical performances and conversations with Texas natives.
During her appearance, she performed some of her hit songs with impassioned lyrics, such as "I will not settle for, settle for anything but love," in her record "Keep On," that speak to the resilience of the Black community and the continued fight for equality. "I chose this song because it's just the spirit of Juneteenth for me," she told the :BLACKPRINT audience of her track "Fight" that speaks on "fighting the good fight" in its lyrics. "It's the spirit of fighting; it's the spirit of perseverance. The spirit of celebrating but also recognizing that we still have a ways to go."
When it comes to continuing the fight for Black people in the everyday, Venson wrote in the Austin American-Statesman that the Black Lives Matter movement is more than a moment, it's a continued action that all individuals need to be accountable for and join. "Don't let this die. Let this time period create permanent change inside yourself," she penned.
"The worst thing you could do is to 'wait for this to blow over' and then return to the same echo chamber where you don't have to confront systemic racism. The Black people in your life don't have that luxury."
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