17 years after taking Newfoundland’s music scene by storm with her album Out of the Rain, Jackie Sullivan returns with her moving new album Find Your Light
When Jackie Sullivan burst onto the scene in 2002 with the MusicNL award winning debut album Out of the Rain, it was the signaling in of a career with boundless amounts of promise.
Fast forward to 2019 and Jackie Sullivan has taken the less than conventional road to her sophomore release Find Your Light. “It was never ever the plan to have a gap of 17 years but sometimes you know life just unfolds,” Sullivan shared with The Herald. “For me I started a family, I got married and had two children and I have a very very busy career. It was always a plan of mine to record a second album and in some ways I’m glad it unfolded the way it did. The second album, because I’m at a different life stage, is very different in terms of topics than it would be if I had to record in say 2005. The things I wrote about 17 years ago are very different than the things I’m writing now. And sometimes that life experience and that path brings us to a different place musically and life wise.”
Full of emotion
Co-produced by Billy Sutton, Spencer Crewe and longtime collaborator Karla Pilgrim and featuring a who’s who of the local music scene, Find Your Light is a rich slice of Americana influenced country-roots, difficult to peg down, but bursting with emotion and heart.
“I really like the stories behind these songs,” Sullivan says. “These songs primarily are very much storyteller. So there’s a story behind each one of these songs. A lot of them are about themes around culture, resilience, legacy and family. And I think a lot of them are around themes that people understand and topics that will resonate with people throughout the province.”
Sullivan is ever humble in saluting the cast of characters who helped bring her long-awaited sophomore record to life. It takes a village, she explains, and the support she received from some of our finest artists is awe-inspiring, she shares.
“I’ve had some brilliant musicians as you can see on the record. It certainly takes a village to make a record like this. I’ve been very very lucky to have brilliant musicians who gave of their time and talent but also were enormously kind. They are the ones who make these songs what they are. There’s so many layers to a song. To watch my songs evolve from my kitchen table to what they are today is so fulfilling, it’s unbelievable. And I can’t take credit for that.”
Those collaborations hold a special place in Sullivan’s heart. There’s the contributions of her mother, a self-taught accordion player at the fine age of 65. And then there’s the addition of her daughter Grace – age seven – who lent her vocals to the album’s title track.
“It was just one of those precious moments that will never leave your heart,” Sullivan said of her daughter’s participation. “Find Your Light is a song that I wrote for my parents. And it’s a song about strength and perseverance and resilience amidst adversity. They’ve definitely taught me those things time and time again and not through any words but how they’ve lived their lives. This message in the song was something that was given to me, but something that I also want to pass on to my children and to anyone who is just struggling with life. This song echoes the message that life isn’t always perfect. There are going to be struggles and we will fall. But we always get back up. I wanted to have a song with this message on my album. It had to happen.”
Initially apprehensive of the idea, Grace warmed to her role as backing vocalist on the powerhouse track when she joined her mother in the studio. Her adorable and seemingly effortless cameo in Find Your Light is a mother-daughter moment that will stand the test of time for the Sullivan family.
“When we got into the studio she just whispered to me very quietly ‘Mom I’m gonna do it’. And that was it,” Sullivan says proudly. “She sang on the chorus with the women and I have video footage of that and pictures of that. And then you can hear her little voice at the end. And she put on the headphones and got in the vocal booth and just sang it and it was effortless for her because she knew the song inside out and upside down. And she has the sweetest little voice. So it was very very moving and emotional for me to see her do that. And it’s just something that I’ll always have and she’ll always have, you know?”
Across the island
Sullivan has been taking Find Your Light across the island for a series of release shows this summer, culminating with an engagement at the Masonic Temple in St. John’s with an all-star backing lineup.
It has been a long road from Out of the Rain to Find Your Light, with a lifetime’s worth of change and maturity in between, but it has been one journey that this knockout artist says was well worth the winding road.
“It unfolded as it should,” Sullivan says, reflectively. “This is me. This record is very authentic to me. And I think that’s what I wanted. I wanted it to be who I am and people get a sense of who I am from this record. And I’m just really looking forward to sharing these messages, stories and songs with everybody. Music is kind of the universal thread that helps us find our way and heal sometimes. I hope that it does that for people who share this music.”
For more on Find Your Light and Jackie Sullivan visit jackiesullivanmusic.com and her official social medias.