Jillian Jacqueline, whose “Reasons” is still holding strong on CMT’s video playlist, has met new fans on the road this year as the opening act for the likes of Dwight Yoakam and Ryan Adams.
A member of the latest class of CMT Next Women of Country, she’ll be heading to the United Kingdom in October for a series of shows.
Even before her latest roadwork, the Pennsylvania native had prepared for the spotlight by working with a somewhat unlikely performer — Kenny Rogers.
Jacqueline counts the icon as one the most influential people in her life and career. In fact, she’s been studying Rogers since she was a kid as a former longtime cast member of his Christmas From the Heart holiday tour.
“I started when I was 9, and I was on it for five years after,” she said. “I played that role until I was 16 — the same part.”
Many wonderful memories came back to Jacqueline as she talked recently to CMT.com of the experience. Being on tour with Rogers was her master class in so many ways.
“He’s so humble,” she said. “He’s like, ’I’m not that great of a singer.’ I’m like, ’You’re crazy!’ He also loves his job. He loves it so much, and he loves the interaction between the audience and him. I’ve never seen a performer really go out there and sell every part of himself every night.”
One of the lessons she learned from Rogers was how to handle every situation like a pro, even when a concert review might have been less than glowing.
“He seemed to really know how to hold it lightly and not take it personally,” she said. “He never seemed to take it to heart. He knows you’re in the public eye, and it’s your job to accept that as part of what you do.
“He has this quote: ’Great artists are when who you are, who you think you are — and who the audience thinks you are — are all the same person.'”
Talk about a “mic-drop” moment. Jacqueline says she carries that one around with her every day.
“It’s the ultimate level of transparency,” she said. “It’s always stuck with me.
“I think people want to protect themselves sometimes and be private, but I think the reason music can be so powerful is because you’re sharing something that is so naked.”