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Stacey Jackson has just launched an album of Motown classics with a rock twist which is tipped for big things in 2010. An ex tv PR in the US, she is on the board of a children’s music charity. She also happens to have four children. She spoke to workingmums.co.uk.
Stacey has always been involved in music. Her father was a graphic designer who designed album covers for Les Baronets, the Canadian equivalent of The Beatles, and for Celine Dion whose husband was in Les Baronets. From an early age she sang in a rock band. When she moved from Canada, where she grew up, to New York, where she worked in tv pr for companies such as CBS News, she sang in a band.
Stacey doesn’t seem the kind of person who would enjoy the quiet life. She appears to thrive on multiple activity. She describes giving an aerobics class at 7am, doing a full day’s work then rehearsing with her band all evening or doing a gig.
She only started cutting back when her children were born and when she moved to London 10 years ago due to her husband’s job. Her thirst for activity has probably been a good training for being a working mum of four. Her children are 14, 11, 7 and 2. The eldest three are boys and all attend different schools. Stacey says this is in part because they are different people and what suits one would not suit another.
It sounds like a recipe for chaos, particularly in the mornings, but Stacey says one son goes on the tube, another on the bus and her daughter only attends three afternoon sessions a week.
However, pick-up time is another kettle of fish as they all have different activities to go to.
“My house is a bit like mission control,” she says.
She started work on the album before she became pregnant with her youngest child, but decided to keep going. “I hope I can inspire her and she will look up to me,” says Stacey. “I firmly believe that a happy Stacey is a happy mum. If someone told me I could never sing again they might as well put me in jail.”
She herself has been surrounded by positive female role models, including an aunt who turned to sculpting in her late 30s and is now, aged 80, a renowned artist in Canada. She hopes she can continue the family tradition.
Stacey says she has always thought she could combine work and family life “as long as one is not compromising the other. Balance is important,” she says, adding that for her that balance starts with her partner. She says her husband, who runs a private equity firm, is 100% supportive of her as she is of him. “We’re a team,” she says.
She describes her life as one big cake where each piece is carved out – a piece for her husband, one for each of her children and one for her. “It’s all about getting the balance right,” she says.
She makes sure she has one to one time regularly with each of her children and says she goes on “hot dates” to cafes, cinemas and the like with them in turn. If they get jealous, they know their turn will come around soon enough. “Women have to make things work,” she says. “Women are always at work.”
When Stacey first moved to London she had thought about setting up a PR business, but she realised this would be like starting all over again, building up her contacts. Instead she taught aerobics and kept up her music, getting a vocal coach, establishing links with other musicians and eventually starting her album. The album took between three and five years to complete. In between her daughter was born and her father, who had inspired her love of Motown, died.
It was when the album was being recorded that she contacted the charity Music for Youth, which puts on festivals for young musicians. Stacey had been to some of the festivals and spotted some talented acts. She asked the charity if they could appear on her album to give it “extra oomph”.
They said yes and came and recorded with Stacey, working alongside professional musicians that “people would kill to work for”, says Stacey. “As a mum, I felt excited for them,” she says.
All the profits from her album are going to Music for Youth, which Stacey is now a board member of.
The album sets Motown classics like Band of Gold to a rock beat and the result is music which is both original and familiar. “I got more and more creative as we continued,” says Stacey.
The album was soft launched about a month ago, but the second single, Band of Gold, is likely to receive more PR and will have a video, out in January. In February Stacey is doing a big event in Notting Hill and more dates are being lined up. In addition, the recording process has been filmed for Upside Down TV, an internet channel on her website.
She has big plans for the future, including working with Music for Youth on a charity single and getting music celebrities to give charity workshops to young people linked to the charity. However, whatever her plans, she expects to fit them round her family. “On the day I finished my album in the summer,” she says, “I was also at one of my son’s sports days. I left early in the end, just in time to get out of the mummy race, and finished the album. You can balance everything, but you have to feel comfortable with it and know that it will make you happy. And if it makes you happy, everyone around you is happy,” she says.
For more information: www.staceyjackson.com