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In ‘Find Your Light,’ Jackie Sullivan tells stories about people and things that have affected her music career and life
As a little girl, no more than eight or nine years old, Jackie Sullivan would sit in front of her grandmother’s dresser with the octagon-shaped mirror and pretend she was onstage.
“I would act it out and even make the faces,” she said, laughing. “I’d always dream about it.”
Years later, those make-believe shows became reality as the Calvert songstress went on to become an award-winning singer, performing on stages all over the province.
“I’ve been really blessed,” she Sullivan, who has been performing since the late 1990s as a solo artist and with other well-known musicians. “Music has always been such a big part of my life.”
And she’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Seventeen years after releasing her celebrated 2002 debut album, “Coming out of the Rain,” the 47-year-old has released her second album, “Find Your Light.”
Co-produced by Billy Sutton, Spencer Crewe and her longtime co-collaborator Karla Pilgrim, the new album is a personal piece of work that delves deep into Sullivan’s roots, each track telling a story of the people, events and things that have helped shape her music career and her life.
“Your life perspective at 30 (years old) is very different from your life perspective at 47. With this album, I wanted to pass along to my children the stories, the legacy and the messages that have been passed down to me,” said Sullivan, who took a break from making music for several years when her son Jack, now 11, and daughter Grace, 7, were born.
“I come from a long line of feisty, fiery people who had perseverance and drive, but they also were good, strong, solid people who have had an impact on my music and the person I’ve become.
“It’s only as we become adults do we understand and have an ability to look back and reflect on where we came from, how that impacted us and how it shaped who we are today.”
The title track on the album, for example, is one she wrote about her parents, who, she said, have risen above life’s challenges while showing humility and strength.
“Mom and Dad always taught me, ‘Jackie, life’s not perfect, but you really have a choice — when you fall, you can stay down or get up. But we always get back up.’” said Sullivan, who was the 2002 MusicNL’s female artist of the year and Rising Star award winner, and has been featured on many compilation albums.
“That’s how they’ve lived their lives and that’s what they’ve shown me, and I knew it was exactly what I need to write about.”
Sullivan said she wrote the song “Old Dirt Roads” for her husband, Glen, who “is very supportive of my passion and has stood by me with this project from Day 1.”
In “Heroes From Home,” co-written with former Great Big Sea member Darrell Power, Sullivan sings about the older people of her community.
“I loved working with Jackie,” Power said. “She’s a wonderful person, a great singer, and I’m tickled pink she has a new album.”
Sullivan is quick to give credit to Power and the other musicians who helped out on the album, including Corey Tetford, Pilgrim, Delores Hynes, Denielle Hann and Sullivan’s daughter, Grace.
Sullivan said Sutton was “the creative mastermind behind arranging these songs.”
When asked about Sullivan, Sutton said, “I think we can look forward to many, many more quality songs from Jackie in the future.”
Sullivan certainly hopes so, but will always remember her past and her influences.
Her grandmother’s dresser is in her bedroom today, as a symbol of her love of family, memories and music.
Sullivan’s release show at the Masonic Temple on Aug. 25 is sold out, but tickets are available for her second show Aug. 26 at Erin’s Pub.