Ken Leighton 8 p.m., Feb. 21
RIYL: Jewel, Michelle Branch, LeAnn Rimes, Sarah McLachlan, Amy Lee (Evanescence), Tracy Chapman, Joss Stone, Jason Mraz, Brett Dennen, Ernie Halter, Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, Aaliyah, Shania Twain, Shakira, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos, Ani Difranco, Katy Perry, Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, Brandi Carlile
- "Letter from Nashville: Alyssa Jacey on Southern cooking, personal improvement, and flying insects" · April 30, 2012
- Jam Session: "The Katy Perry of Country Music" · Oct. 31, 2011
- Blurt: "Way Late" · June 16, 2010
- Blurt: "The Entire Known Universe?" · Dec. 16, 2009
- Musician Interviews: "Love It Local" · Nov. 29, 2007
Inception: Carlsbad, 2005
Influences: Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, Adele, Sara McLachlan, Shawn Colvin, Joss Stone, Ernie Halter, Grant Garland, Meiko
"I never focused on the music scene until a few years ago," says Alyssa Jacey. "I always listened to music and appreciated everyone who was on the radio, selling out shows, but ever since I decided to pursue music instead of a dance career -- such as a choreographer for someone like Usher or one of JT's backup dancers -- I have been paying more attention to acoustic artists and local talent, not so much bands."
Jacey was born in La Jolla, and raised in Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar. She attended Torrey Pines High School, went to Sonoma State her freshman year of college, then attended Mira Costa (Junior College) for a couple years part time and decided to take a break. She took 2.5 years off, to follow her life long dream to become a dancer (touring with Usher as a back up dancer and/or choreograph for artists such as him). She taught hip-hop classes in gyms and colleges and danced with professional, traveling teams.
During this period, she left San Diego a few times for college and a stint in L.A. for nine months. Before pursuing music, she had many unrelated gigs, including "Nannying three kids -- all under 9 years old -- when I was 17. While living in L.A., one of my three jobs was talent scouting for child actors and models. It sucked. [And] working for Victoria's Secret during the holiday season -- you haven't experienced mayhem until you've been around hundreds of women fighting over bras, panties, and dressing rooms."
“I spent almost 20 years as a dancer,” says 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.”
Jacey was given a guitar by world famous classical guitarist and very close family friend, Pepe Romero in October of 2005. She took one lesson from him that day and, hoping to evolve as a solo act, Jacey began teaching herself guitar; 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.”
Her first release The Alyssa Jacey EP (3/15/05) was followed a few months later by a full-length called Closed Eyes, Open Heart (6/28/05).
As of 2010, Jacey was performing 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.”
In Autumn 2010, Jacey was featured in the September issue of RediLifestyle Magazine and was the Music Go Round Band of the Month for August. A few weeks later, she announced “I will not be performing in public for a long long time. At least, nowhere you’ll know about.” She was taking time from performing to work with a professional mentor, producer/singer/songwriter Jim Reilley, in hopes of becoming “the artist this person could already see was there, [I] just needed some professional TLC. Kind of a lot of it.”
In Autumn 2011, she began recording an album in Nashville, On the Spot, with drummers Nick Buda (Taylor Swift) and Steve Bowman (Counting Crows), guitarist Audley Freed (Black Crowes), bassist Chris Autry (Jo Dee Messina), keyboardist Michael Webb (LeAnn Rimes, John Fogerty), and producer/singer/songwriter Jim Reilley (the New Dylans).
In January 2012, the newly-30 singer/songwriter moved to Nashville and released a new single, “Gush,” on iTunes. “[I] befriended a, for lack of better words, famous songwriter here in town who took me as his date to the CMA Triple Play Awards where Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley and Zac Brown Band, among ten others, were awarded for having three number ones in a year,” she emailed from her new Nashville home.
After several months of songwriting in Nashville, new demos were shopping her songs to other performers (rather than planned for release). In June 2012, she launched a weekly Tuesday webcast concert series, Live From My Living Room.
Her ten-track full-length On the Spot was released in July 2012, featuring nine songs recorded in Nashville and one recored in San Diego in Autumn 2011, “Walk Beside Me.” The following summer saw several videos launched online, including “Man On the Run,” “Don't Fight the Love,” “Drowning Me,” and “Down.”
Late 2013 saw the release of new singles, including “Don't Fight the Love,” “Drowning Me,” and “The Light.” Around that time, she returned to San Diego to play the Westgate Hotel on November 25. “That's where I sang in public for the first time, back in 2005.”
Her album Destined was released in 2014. "I named the album because I wanted one word that encapsulated EVERYTHING. I wanted this one word to portray imagery, as well as feeling. A statement for where I am right now in my music career, and where I'm going. It also needed to make sense for the artwork and song choices."
The cover features her (wearing blue, of course), drenched in water and flipping her hair and head backwards, leaving a huge splash-wake ccaptured via high speed photography. "The chosen photo is a very freeing, expressive, forward moving, positive pose. It screams confidence and power to me, which both equate to being 'destined' for something. I was destined to create this particular genre and style of music."
Destined also marks her recorded debut as a percussionist. "I either played a live kit, some form of a percussive instrument, or created the digital beat on nearly every song," she tells the Reader.