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Byron Shire
June 9, 2023

Interview with Southern Avenue’s Tierinii Jackson

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Southern Avenue

Abounding with musical creativity, confident songcraft, and deeply felt emotion, Southern Avenue marries soul power and jam band liberation with gospel, blues and righteous R&B to craft their own timeless brand of American music. Seven spoke to Southern Avenue’s Tierinii Jackson last week, in late winter Memphis, Tennessee…

So tell me, have you been to Australia before?

Yes, I think it was May of 2018 if I’m not mistaken, and I was there for my birthday – we played in Brisbane.

You had a very conservative upbringing but you have a lot of attitude on stage. Do you have to gear yourself up to get into that zone?

If you’re around me from day to day, I’m really chill. I’m really not like all that attitude that I have when I’m on stage, it’s really just a place where I can actually just have the most fun and be the most expressive and have no self-control. I just get excited to be ‘doing it’ and it all comes out there.

Do your parents come to your shows? 

They don’t come to many shows, but after we got the Grammy nomination they came to their first show. It was crazy. I was really excited. My mother told me she was proud of me for the first time in years and it was a crazy feeling and I was forgetting the words on stage because I didn’t want to curse in front of them. 

You and bandmate Ori Naftaly have a young family of three children – do they come on tour?

My oldest daughter is ten. My son is nine and my youngest baby is 16 months. During the summer we alternate the older two, but the baby loves it. 

Do you have a favourite song off the current album Be The Love You Want?

It’s hard to pick a favourite because they’re all so personal to me. I think, probably my ultimate favourite, would either be ‘Too Good To Be True’ or ‘Control’. I think when I wrote ‘Control’ I was just very, very tuned in to my emotions – I was sitting in the parking lot at the gym and I was worn out and I didn’t want to go in. So I finally turned the car off and decided ‘I’m going to push myself to go in’ – and the lyrics started to come to me. So I sat there for about 20 minutes and started jotting down lyrics and melody ideas and then I drove home and I never made it into the gym. But, I did come up with an awesome song and I felt really accomplished. I went into the gym the next day and got it done – because you know you got to get through it!

Your husband’s in the band, how does that work out?

It works out because, I mean, we were really platonic for the first three years and it worked so well. You know, we just naturally grew into something more, and it’s working beautifully. We always had our challenges when it comes to being creative partners, but that’s a healthy process that happens between all collaborators. We love being around each other and we’re not sick of each other yet, and I never really have moments where I feel like I need a break.

Tell me what inspires you?

I went through a really tough time in life. I felt really alone. I always think back to those moments. Now I imagine how much quicker I would have come out of that rut if I had one person to tell me, ‘Hey, don’t give up’ or ‘You’re going to make it’, you know? So I am inspired to be that person in somebody’s life. To pick them up and tell them ‘Keep going’. 

Southern Avenue will play Bluesfest on Thursday and Friday – download the app and add them to your favourites or find out more at: bluesfest.com.au

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