“I spent almost 20 years as a dancer,” says Alyssa Jacey, whose high point as a hoofer was her 2003 appearance at Super Bowl XXXVII. “But then, in 2004, I started doing karaoke, mainly as a joke. I never had a vocal lesson in my life, I didn’t play any instruments, and had only messed around with songwriting a little. But I ended up emailing a producer who said he was willing to record me.”
In 2005, Jacey submitted her demo CD to the Del Mar County Fair and was surprised when they booked her for eight shows. “Each set paid something like $50 to $100, and they were two hours each. I had to learn a ton of cover songs, plus I wrote a few originals and hired a guitar player.”
Hoping to evolve as a solo act, Jacey began teaching herself guitar in October of 2005; she landed a paying gig behind the axe two weeks later. “SDSU found my MySpace page and asked if I was interested in performing for their CASE series, held every Wednesday inside one of their Starbucks. I had to get someone else to play with me because I could only perform the first two songs I ever wrote on guitar. We mostly did covers the rest of the hour, so I could sing while he played.”
Jacey — who grew up in Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar — now performs over a hundred shows each year. “I do a lot of my own booking, I design and print my own labels, and I burn my own CDs,” she says. “When I was recording my first full-length album, I bought a keyboard and taught myself to play.
“I was in my mid-20s when I started, which is pretty old when it comes to the music industry.... I started way late.” She appears June 19 on the Paddock Stage at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and June 26 at Hennessey’s Tavern in P.B.