This week’s guest is Alfred Jackson.
Alfred is a pop and R&B recording artist from LA. Just recently, I had the great pleasure of meeting Alfred on a cruise ship, where he was a guest entertainer performing with the boyband, Uptown. I was captivated by Alfred’s talent, energy, charisma and charm on stage and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview him in person on the ship. This was a fascinating conversation with Alfred who shared his professional journey, throughout the entertainment industry, which began at the age of nine and has led him to numerous and a diversity of career highlights. Some of these include being cast in numerous musical theatre productions such as the Book of Mormon in Sydney Australia, directing West Side Story, touring in the Man in the Mirror across the US, entertaining at Universal Studios Japan and performing with numerous boy bands.
Alfred has also had a very successful recording career as a singer-songwriter being signed to numerous music labels. At the age of 14, he was signed to his first record deal and he talks about how he was mistreated and body shamed at such a vulnerable young age. He shares with us that it was his mother who kept him grounded in an industry that could have destroyed his life. Over the years, Alfred has released two original albums which have been inspired by his own life experiences. His latest body of work is titled, UGLY, in which he shares his deeply personal account of his life and the importance of legacy. Alfred also discusses how he takes care of his physical, mental and emotional health in an industry where self-care is. You are going to love this interview with Alfred Jackson as he shares his stories, experiences and advice for others wishing to pursue a career in the music industry.
In this episode
07:27 — Alfred’s Singing Journey
10:00 — Singing Influences during his Young Age
12:48 — Transitioning to a Professional Singing Career
14:26 — Having a ‘Momager’ and its Impact on His Career
22:44 — Belonging to a Boy Band Group
25:48 — Singing a Healthy C5 in Pure Belt
30:32 — Our Voice Tells Us Where to Listen
32:26 — Impact of Traveling
34:19 — Warm-up Rituals
41:35 — Learning to Support the Voice
42:17 — Getting Into Musical Shows
44:48 — Working in Universal Studios in Japan for 4 years
47:45 — What Do You Do for Self-Care?
50:08 — Was There Ever a Time in Your Career That You Didn’t Feel Enough?
54:40 — Alfred’s New Album “U.G.L.Y”
56:14 — Advice for up-and-coming Artists
57:13 — Piece of Advice for Singing Teachers
Find Alfred Online
NEW CCM BOOK
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith is excited to announce the release of her new book “Singing Contemporary Commercial Music Styles: A Pedagogical Framework” published by Compton Publications UK. Marisa offers this book as a starting point and as CCM markets continue to evolve, she encourages that we, as a voice community, continue to evolve, debate and communally add to this framework.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 00:05
It’s Marisa Lee here, and I’m so excited to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you. In these episodes, our brilliant lineup of guests will include health care practitioners, voice educators, and other professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialized fields to empower you to live your best life. Whether you’re a member of the voice, community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. It’s time now to share your gift with others develop a positive mindset and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, it’s time for you to live your best life. It’s time now for A Voice and Beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 01:16
This week’s guest is Alfred Jackson, a pop and r&b recording artists from LA. Recently I had the great pleasure of meeting Alfred on a cruise ship, where he was performing as a guest entertainer in the boy band uptown. I was so captivated by Alfred’s talent, energy, charisma and charm on stage, and I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to interview him in person on the ship. This was a fascinating conversation with Alfred, who shared his personal journey throughout the entertainment industry, which began at the age of nine and has led him to numerous and quite diverse career highlights. Some of these include being cast in numerous musical theater productions, such as the book of Mormons in Sydney, Australia, directing West Side Story, touring in The Man in the Mirror show across the US entertaining at Universal Studios, Japan and performing with numerous boy bands. Alfred has also had a very successful recording career as a singer songwriter being signed to numerous music labels over the years. At the age of 14, he was signed to his first record label, and he talks about how he was mistreated and body shamed at such a vulnerable young age. He tells us that it was his mother who kept him grounded in an industry which could have destroyed his life. Over the years, Alfred has released two original albums which have been inspired by his own life experiences. His latest body of work is titled ugly in which he shares his deeply personal account of his life and the importance of legacy. Alfred also discusses how he takes care of his physical, mental and emotional health and well being in an industry where self care is paramount. You are going to love this interview with Alfred Jackson as he shares his stories, his experiences and some great advice for others wanting to pursue a career in the music industry. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 03:59
Welcome to A Voice and Beyond, Alfred Jackson. Good to have you here. It’s such a pleasure and it’s been such a pleasure watching you perform here on the cruise ship. We are still on Celebrity Beyond on a beyond adventure. And I feel very privileged to be able to speak to you as performers here on the ship and get an insight into what life is like for you. But also what your backgrounds and you are a singer songwriter. You are a recording artist. You are a musical theater performer. A guest entertainer he with celebrity cruise lines as part of a three piece boy band. Yeah called uptown as you perform soul Motown funk, yes, yeah But and so beautifully and it is such a high energy show, and your energy level is mixed. As a singer, as a dancer, your quarry, I don’t know how you do it, I think you must train on a treadmill.
Alfred Jackson 05:17
You know, I did do some of that growing up running the treadmill, running and doing the breathing techniques while out in the street doing a good job. So yeah, a lot of training in that. But I just always wanted to perfect that. So you need to hear me out.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 05:31
I’ve never heard you out of breath. And not only that, I don’t even see your shoulders moving like you are at a breath. Even when you speak after you’ve done that choreo, everything is so calm.
Alfred Jackson 05:44
It’s about a pace. I think for me, I learned the choreo. And then I figure out how I’m gonna get that note out, what’s the best way to execute the movement. So it’s all about pace. And like I said, I don’t want anyone to know that I’m tired or out of breath, I’m gonna be like, Wow, he really did this non-stop. And we can’t hear any heavy breathing.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 06:03
No. I’ve seen three of your shows. And one I’ve seen twice in the second time I’ve watched that show, because I’d already seen it. I was kind of then micro watching it. And just seeing what you’re all doing and how you were doing it. And not only like, as I said, Are you high energy. And not only is the singing so powerful, but just I know we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. But what we’re talking about this? Do you have input in that choreography? And is there a time you go? Okay, whoever is choreographing this, do you say to them, that is too much.
Alfred Jackson 06:45
So, when the show was first created was created by Gil, he and the other two guys, they put the movement together. Over time the show has evolved. And we do add new songs, we do give input, we will go Oh, and sometimes I’m like that’s a bit much. That’s a bit much. Or we’ll go how do we pace ourselves to make sure that we can execute this vocally. And then we just do the movement over and over again. And I’m perfectionist so I like to find ways to think of creative ways to get that note out. Whether it be in a movie, if it’s a squat, and I’ve got to hit that note. How do I hold it there and that should that no, no? Yeah, yeah.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 07:24
So, you’re from LA.
Alfred Jackson 07:26
Yes. Born and raised.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 07:27
Yeah, yeah. And you did tell me earlier that you have moved around. But where did your singing journey commenced?
Alfred Jackson 07:35
Oh, my goodness. I started in church to age of four and really literally Gardena. Yeah, in LA, Gardena is where I think my first memory my first place in the child, we went to church and I started singing the church my auntie was the choir director and I had two cousins, they’re twins. And we were like the three amigos so whenever I had a solo, my cousins right there to back me up. So that was where it all started. It all started in church school at four.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 08:13
That is ridiculous. You must have had an amazing voice and you know, hitch was even to be able to pitch at that age.
Alfred Jackson 08:21
Well, yeah, it was. I learned to mimic artists growing up. So for me, it was very like Ohh I like the way Michael Jackson sounds at four years old. You know, so my mom be like, what is he doing? What is he doing? So they gave me a solo and it wasn’t like it was a little four year old singing a song. Okay, he’s only this. He’s only this. And I think from out the gate. My mom was all about stage presence. So she was like, there was a song called, I’m a child of God. So there was my you could tell them the chatter got some muscle, you gotta tell them chatter. So when, you know four year old when your parents tell you to do something, you want to make them proud. So I’m singing a song and I gotta tell them, I’m gonna record my mom. You know what I mean? I think that was the catapult into being a performer but still not realizing it. I just always knew that I was going to be a singer though. At the age of four I knew that was my journey. That was my road to this this career. I knew.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 09:25
That is so incredible. But I totally relate to that because I knew too when I was, I think I don’t think I was four but I would have been around five. Not seeing solos in a church but singing incredible solos in the lounge room with all the doors. Yeah, belting at the top of my lungs mimicking also not having a clue probably like you what you were doing, other than this is what I’m hearing and I’m going to copy that and having the those influences. So, who were your influences at that age?
Alfred Jackson 10:03
Oh my goodness, so many. But one of my favorite artists is Janet Jackson. I love her. I love her blueprint as an artist. I love her message as an artist. I love her central tone. It’s beautiful. Outside of Janet Jackson, I grew up with Stevie Wonder. My stepfather had a eagle crate of records. So Steview it was Cameo. It was Phil Collins. It was Earth Wind and Fire. It was just print everything. So every weekend, I’d wake up to him playing records. And I you know, little kid Saturday’s cleanup day and I’m like, it’s like you know, I’m saying so that I was inspired by so many artists. And I think that that’s why I like all types of music. I love like Aretha Franklin. I love Patti LaBelle. Oh, yeah. Yeah, it just comes from a real place with her when she sees me. And then I also like artists, Mary J. Blige. I grew up on her very first concert I ever went to. So inspired by meaning, but Janet Jackson at the top of my list for so many reasons, concert level, performance level of Michael Jackson, same thing with the Jackson Five of course, there’s r&b groups like boys to men, who I grew up on and just I was exposed to so much and I was like a sponge just absorbing.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 11:25
Yes, and all great singers. So the people that you were mimicking what actually really good singers. You weren’t being mimicking people who are overproduced. As many of the artists are today, in the recording studios, all their natural tambor is stripped away, you are listening to real singers.
Alfred Jackson 11:46
Real singers who actually did. This is not a shade, but it just is the truth. He did work in the studio, who didn’t have the experience of pressing the button and flying the vocals over? Yeah, my first experience in the studio, there was no sample where you copied and paste. So I had to sing the hook over and over and over again. So then when the time came, I remember in the studio, my uncle’s like, you don’t have to seem to have this many times anymore. I was like, What do you mean? He said, Well, now we just press this button. And we can fly, though. What?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 12:23
Yeah, because back in the day, there was no auto tune. You had to sing it in pitch. Yeah, it’s none of this. I’ve just seen it once through. We’ll just play with it now. Spend the next week fixing it. And, you know, we just like your look, yeah, we’ll just have you for the walk and what you bring not your talents, right? As you said, we’re not throwing shades.
Alfred Jackson 12:47
Yeah, that’s a fact.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 12:48
So, hen did you then transition into a professional career.
Alfred Jackson 12:56
I started at the age of nine, my mom put me in a performing arts school, Marlon kids conservatory. And that was my first experience about, you know, doing production, and singing. And I got in trouble in class. So I decided the best way to get out of trouble is to actually show the teacher I can sing because he didn’t know. And I got up there. And I did with ease. And I believe that children are our future. And he was like, what? The whole time you’ve been here the whole time. And then that started everything. When it’s a studio show I recorded records, and it just kept progressing from there. So at the age of nine, and also doing film and television at the age of nine, like bookings stuff, and yeah, that was just,
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 13:41
that’s incredible. And you shared a little secret with me. And that is that your mom? Is your manager? Yes. And I had to laugh because like, I’m going, Oh, my gosh, she’s, I can do that with my kids as well, but not to the extent that your mom does, but she walked beside you. At the age of nine. If you’re working with these kinds of people in recording companies, music labels, you must have been exposed to things that you weren’t prepared for. Absolutely did not understand. Absolutely. And that you must have been, like, so grateful that you had your mom walking.
Alfred Jackson 14:26
I you know, I’m so thankful that she was there the whole time. And even when she decided to let someone else try to manage me, she still was over their shoulder like hey, but if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And I think that my fee records that I had, you know, they would try to pay me want to take him to do this. She was like, that’s great. I’m kind of with them. There was no, you couldn’t give me without my mom and a lot of people didn’t like that. But she was protected because you can be exposed to so much in the music industry. It’s a It’s a crazy place. It’s a crazy place. And you know, I’ve had experiences where the execs that I was, you know, under might be having affairs and I was confused as a kid like white to not just meet their their wife. I’m not sure what’s going on and just being exposed to–
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 15:20
Different set of morals?
Alfred Jackson 15:21
Yes, yes, yes. You see a lot and I feel for the younger art–the artists who have started off at a young age, and were very successful, because you’re exposed to so much. And they they tend to push you to do what they want. Because my mother was there. They didn’t have a chance. She was like, he sings about what he wants to sing about. He’ll write about what he wants to write about. Do not ask him to do something he does not want to do.
Alfred Jackson 15:47
When she started after the Mickey Mouse Club, because I’m afraid of Britney Spears, saying, I watched the whole documentary and you know, just kind of study your path and journey. She had an opportunity, and her parents allowed her to go to New York without film. And live there. They did not. They did have a chaperone. Yes. And she stayed with her. But still, Britney was exposed to a lot of things at a young age. And then they also changed the way she would perform the same is Britney was a country singer, a belter. And then they were like, We want you to pop. You don’t have to worry about that. It guess what happens when you don’t practice working your your muscle? You forget, you don’t know how to use it? You know? And that’s what happened. Yeah. And I think that I think that it’s very important that parents are in the room with their children, especially if they get a record deal, because they are supposed to have to protect it.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 15:47
Oh my gosh, he’s so lucky. He’s so lucky. Because how many of these child stars end up really messed up? And as you shared with me earlier, I always thought that say for example, Britney Spears that her father micromanaged her, and was always present in all the dealings with record companies, executives, but as you said, he kind of said, yeah, no, take my child and do what you want with her.
Alfred Jackson 16:52
Yes, yes. And you said earlier as well, that your first experience in New York, your mum was there with you? And there was another time when you went to North Carolina? And it was your mom and your sister?
Alfred Jackson 17:30
So the record label moved from New York to North Carolina. And they just wanted the artists to be in a comfortable space be able to create. And so they were like what outfits come to North Carolina, and she was like, great, get us a ticket. And she was also his sister’s car. So she’s like, this is a family trip, we’re gonna go together. And it literally was that and it’s funny, because I’d say this, but my sister’s a singer as well. Oh, and she was just a sponge, watching her brother. experience all these things. You know, here I am traveling at this point, maybe 1314. In these major studios, and the pressure of being okay, you got to write these songs and not knowing what to do, because this is all new. Yeah, it’s just fun. Where your kid? Yeah, I just want to say I want to, yeah, you don’t think about the business part. And also people taking the fun out of new creativity. And that is a challenge.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 18:27
And they try to mold you into being someone that you’re not. And something that you’re not comfortable with. So how different do you think your journey would have been? If you didn’t have your mum there? Stepping and to speak up in situations where you had an authoritative figure telling you what to do? And you probably wouldn’t have had a voice in that situation as a youngster.
Alfred Jackson 18:55
Yeah, I think if my mother wasn’t around during the process, I probably would be an artist. I would have been exposed to things I shouldn’t have been exposed to. I would have been I wouldn’t be the man I am. You know what I mean? Yes. Because if you just go out there, they’re like, Do this, do this to this, this is who you are. He’s still learning who you are as a young man and still developing the powers that be say, I need to record this way. But to have your mother there, who knows who you are, and believes in what who you are to say he doesn’t understand that or he’s not going to do that and she was never rude to the record exec. She’s just like, that’s I am.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 19:35
Did you ever feel vulnerable? At any time, even with your mum there? Was there ever a time where you felt? Oh, you know, I’m just not comfortable here. I don’t want to be here. You shared one story about being–
Alfred Jackson 19:49
Yeah, there was one time we were in, we were in New York, and I was having dinner with one of the record execs and the wife. We were given to park the car in his wife was nagging him about parking here parking there. And he snapped at her. They didn’t say some nice things to her was triggered something for me, which made me cry. And how old were you at that time I was 13 or 14. And he didn’t understand why I was crying. And my mom was like, he doesn’t like, he doesn’t like, men disrespected women. You know, she’s like, he grew up seeing me and his stepfather have issues. He doesn’t like that. It’s a and so I remember, he apologized, and we sat at the table. And he was like, I’m sorry, honey, right? We’re sorry. And the kids like, look, we’re fine. I was like, I said, your wife is not your dog. You don’t mistreat her like, and I’m a little kid. And I’m just telling telling him like, I don’t like that. That’s disrespectful. She is your prize. Like, don’t do that. And it was it was a moment where I was, I literally took a moment to say I want to go home.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 21:01
Wow, wow, I’m not surprised that even back then you were like that, because just in the few times that we’ve spoken, and I’ve got to know you a little bit more. You truly are a gentleman and you so together. I mean, many performing artists that have had your journey, I’m not but you are just so together, you have I can see amazing morals and credit to you and credit to a mom, thank goodness for the mom.
Alfred Jackson 21:34
Yes mommy-ger. And you know, it’s not easy being you know, the son, and being an artist, and your mom may not as an adult, I’m older now, may not like everything I write, you know?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 21:48
In terms of content?
Alfred Jackson 21:52
I don’t know. I’m older now. I can’t be this little boy. But now I’m ready to talk about these things. You know, she’ll kind of go, okay, now some of her favorite songs.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 22:03
She was like. And now it’s like, I actually don’t mind that too.
Alfred Jackson 22:18
Those parents who are managers, there’s a moment of growing pains, you have to realize your child is also growing up that you have to allow room for that. And sometimes they may go in the wrong direction. I was in a boy band. My mother said do not do it. Your solo artists do not go to that boy band. I didn’t listen, I went but there was a lesson. There was a lesson it I wouldn’t be the vocalist I am today, if I wasn’t in that group.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 22:44
Watching you interact with the other two members of Uptown on stage, you have a very well, you described it as loud someone and you have a very resonant voice. You I don’t consider it’s perceived to be loud, is what I say because it is so resonant. And then with an amplification, you can imagine the power in the sound. But when it comes to singing with the other two, and you have three part harmonies going on, the blend is impeccable. Visually, you cannot hear a difference in the volume. You can’t signal out one voice. It’s just seamless. So obviously you would have one skill like that working in another boy band.
Alfred Jackson 23:34
Absolutely. Been in a few. I’ve been in a few. And each time he was a different experience. The first time I was in a group called third story. And that actually put me in the in the face of the requisites. That’s I mean, the first time we went and we had a meeting, and my mother said, Whatever you do, just let your light shine. So I was like, okay, so I go in here we did, I’ll be there. And then we did original song. And after the meeting, they were like, We don’t like the group. But we want Ace Ace was my name when I was in a group. And the reason that they were like, Why ace why the name is so he has the highest debit cards, and I think my I see really. And so they’re like, oh, okay, so that was my name, Ace. Yeah.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 24:21
So what happened to the other two?
Alfred Jackson 24:24
The other two groups?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 24:25
The other the other members in the boy band?
Alfred Jackson 24:28
Oh, so after that, I took a meeting with the label. And I kept in touch with the boys for a while. And then eventually they formed, they found a new member and kind of just lost contact. One of the guys that still kept in touch with for a few years. He was like a big brother to me. And he was like, I understand. You have to make this decision. It’s an opportunity to talk to them. Yeah, so that was one of the groups and then the other group was Formula One for Mills united in LA. We were all for La, for guys it. Yes, it was off, spin off the race car things. We had the jackets, that was our own brandy. And we signed to an indie label based in Miami to Warner Brothers. And we got the record deal. We toured with Sierra, though a whole bunch of different groups. It was a great experience. But what I learned from that group, because I see the teacher saying the other lead singer, the group who say, You saying hi, is because that’s how money made? Yes. And I was like, yes. Oh, okay. Yeah, he was like, No, I want you to just remember that, because they don’t expect that when you look at the group, you see him, you think he’s the one. He’s the one that has to be greeted with that you look at me thinking, the greeting voice, but I don’t know what the high was so–
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 25:48
You sign so high. And I was trying to figure out, okay, so I can’t, I can’t always hear a note and go, it’s an A4, or whatever it is. But you are seeing well above a C5 in pure belt. Now, most books should say most but many females can’t even sing a C5 in belt. So it’s no mix. It was it was just pure belting healthily produced. Where did that come from? I mean, what happened when you went through puberty? Did your voice not plummet?
Alfred Jackson 26:31
So I, I went through puberty. And I remember, I had a show, and my voice was starting to change. And I call my dad crying. I can’t see the way he used to say he was like, It’s okay. So okay, here’s what I want you to do. Keep singing Hi, whatever you do, just keep saying hi. He said, don’t substitute the notes for lower notes because of your condition to sing that low, and you’re going to lose your edge. And he said, and then if it ever feels like you can’t really push that, I’ll just leave every muscle and shoot that note. I was like, what he said, squeeze every hole every. Sorry, this is what he said. And I was like, okay, and that helped. I would every morning it up and any song that I recorded that was in my higher register, I would push a muscle, you have to keep these and now you’re not going to be able to sing. Once you buy you’ll still have rage. So I just kept perfecting it. And then you know, at one point, I was scared because I thought I was allowed to. So I wouldn’t use it as much. But then when people would hear to go, oh my gosh!
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 27:37
Yes. See a lot of singers singing teachers would be horrified to hear because you squeezing everything. There is a lot of tension. And tension is not our friend. thing was we we don’t encourage that without stupid. But it sounds like maybe he was making like braces.
Alfred Jackson 27:59
Yeah, things like what like if you look at artists like Beyonce, when sometimes when she belts, she has a tilt. She has a lien. There’s a way that she’s trying to get that air to flow out. And there’s like a you know what I mean? Yes. So I think that’s what he meant. And that’s fun. There’s another artist who does Celebrity Cruises. Her name is a rehab that she does a read their name is Terry Lockhart. I noticed with her where she does her belt. She has a stance that she leans back. Wow. And it just goes so one day I said I’m gonna try this if that works. It works. The Note. Clean, clean.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 28:38
Do you do that in the show?
Alfred Jackson 28:40
Yes. When I do the Stevie Wonder. When I hit that note.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 28:48
Ahh I didn’t notice that. I missed that. Have you ever had vocal issues?
Alfred Jackson 28:56
Vocal issues? I say puberty? No.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 29:00
So you’ve never lost your voice. Or if you’ve had vocal fatigue. Like nodule anthology.
Alfred Jackson 29:08
I lost my voice once like really bad. And I know why. Yeah, I was doing a concert and he wanted fans on stage. So we’re doing soundcheck is like two nights before the actual show. And I just was singing in front of this fan. Like beautiful next day gone. Completely gone.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 29:29
And why was that?
Alfred Jackson 29:31
The air just going straight at me.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 29:34
Alfred Jackson 29:35
No, I had like a Fan.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 29:37
Oh a fan, I thought you meant a fan as in a person.
Alfred Jackson 29:55
So yes because you know you liked effects of employing your jacket and the girl dances in their hair. Yeah. So I was really embarrassed really filling it. And that’s not good for you vocally. And it has to be angled the right way. I learned that later, but it completely took my voice. And I had a show today. And so I was like, okay, rest. You can’t say anymore. Let’s get something back.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 30:23
Listen to the mama job.
Alfred Jackson 30:25
Rest. She said, take the second Asia, back in Asia, and I did a lot of sleeping. And then the day of the show, a good friend of mine, he we went to high school together, he came and we did vocal warmups together. And he just was like, your voice tells you where to listen. And that’s probably the best advice I’ve ever heard your voice during the show, it will let you know. Don’t we not here today?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 30:52
Yes, yes. And that’s so important because as performers, whether we’re a singer, dancer actor, if we don’t work, we usually don’t get paid. Right? So many, many of us will still keep working even when we shouldn’t be because of the paycheck. Yes, we don’t this Yes. But ultimately, that ends up long term being more problematic. It’s like short term pain stop for long term gain and don’t keep working through it.
Alfred Jackson 31:25
Yes, I remember doing a Christmas tour. And because of the California heat, warmth, Bloom we’re doing these shows were extremely cold. And my body was like, I can’t take this coldness. And then my voice started to sound very light. And I was like, How do I get through the show? And I just had to make smart choices. Very smart choices. And I remember one of the girls, she was like, oh, you know, it’s the rest. You need your inflammation to go down. Maybe see a doctor seems to give you some free information. And eventually it’ll come back. But that was like my experience of doing, you know, performing in cold weather. It’s the climate change all that affects your voice. So sometimes when you see singers, you’re like, why do they have this scarf? Or is it protecting their gift? Yes, regardless of because it can be hot outside. I know I’m wearing a pledging cert right now. But you know, usually I’m like, wrapped up. Cause air conditioners not–
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 32:26
Yes. What about all the travel? Does that speak as as a guest entertainer at the moment? I know you’ve done a lot of traveling throughout your careers. And we’re still getting to some of those other highlights of your career. But what about all the travel? Does that affect you?
Alfred Jackson 32:45
Absolutely. You get very tired and it’s dry. It can be very dry from all the traveling. And then we did a show recently, where we got off the plane and went straight to the ship and they’re like you have a shoulder. Huh? got water, you know to have an I don’t like to a lot of people like to drink tea before they saying that doesn’t work for me. I think that’s a smart thing to do. Like people have their own things. Who eats chocolate before he sings.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 33:13
Alfred Jackson 33:15
My sister and I will do chips like lays because of the salt. We will do that. And I’ll do I’ll chew gum just for moisture, I guess. And then I like french fries, just from the salt house for a little bit of French fries before I sing. Bbut I won’t to the lemon or ginger. And none of that the day on the show before that do the ginger tea, all of that. But I can’t because I feel it just does something to your voice.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 33:42
Well, we’re all different. And I always say look, there’s no right or wrong. It’s what works for you. Yeah. And I’ve come off my pedestal as as a singing teacher where you go, No, you can’t do this. You can’t do that. It’s like, well, if it works, then you go ahead and do it.
Alfred Jackson 34:01
I don’t see us. I know some singers who take a shot before they say I can’t I can’t do that. No, absolutely not. No. And I’m I’m shocked because they still sound great. But I’m like–
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 34:14
What about pre-show? So, obviously you have your little ritual man as far as what you eat. But what about warm up? What do you do? Do you warm up with the other two with Jonathan?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 34:14
No, no. Everybody has their own thing. Eileen doesn’t warm up. Jonathan doesn’t warm up. I–
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 34:38
Okay. I can tell by my last two this is going to be invalid.
Alfred Jackson 34:43
So I will get in the shower. And I just checked to see those big money notes. If they’re there. I go. Okay, I need that I do a few lip trills. And then I use the soundcheck as a way of warming it up. That’s usually what I do
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 35:01
Do you do your soundcheck full house?
Alfred Jackson 35:05
Ish ish. Yes. Because I like to make sure that it’s there. So I’ll use like, Oh, I’ll change things up vocally in soundcheck, because that’s when you play because you also try new things to see when you’re going to try that in the show. But those money notes, I always like to check that they’re there. And they’re okay.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 35:25
Yeah. Yeah. If those money notes, when outreach talks about money notes, I am going to share some of your performance in the promo. So because people need to hear what you can do, you are all evil. And so those money notes are gold. They really are gold. Okay, so now I’m gonna back back a little bit again, because we’ve gone wait for you all very relevant and amazing to hear all these recording opportunities, what ended up amounting with those has anything did your career propelled forward as a result of recording contracts.
Alfred Jackson 36:14
So with recording, so basically, I had a publishing deal. And that was somewhere I had a few song placements, I did a TV show, I wrote an opening theme song for Cindy Margolis. At the time, I had a song Academy, we’ll show but outside of the publishing, as far as the record deal goes, it was a week, they would either shop me and things didn’t work out relationship wise, or I just felt like we hit a wall. So let’s, let’s just cut our ties. And there was one reason they were like, we’re not letting her contract, why? It’s not working out, because we don’t want to send our reason. No reason. So I was just like, Okay, so with this particular contract, you know, after seven years, doesn’t exist anymore. So that’s kind of what happened. But then you could there’s, there’s ways I’m not going to say, but there are ways to get around. I mean, you have different things as an artist, so you know. You sign that artist, this artist.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 37:19
Wow. So just say that they have music rights. For copyright or completion rights for five years, and you’ve signed as Alfred Jackson. And then you go and sign as Ace.
Alfred Jackson 37:35
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 37:37
They can’t do anything about it?
Alfred Jackson 37:39
Because I’m not even touching those songs. It’s a whole new.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 37:42
Wow, I didn’t even consider that.
Alfred Jackson 37:44
Yeah, yeah. There’s there are ways and also have a good lawyer.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 37:49
Always. And a good momager?
Alfred Jackson 37:51
And a good momager. Yes, but yeah, bad contracts than not happening. I remember meeting with one record exec, I just knew this was a I’ve got to do. And he kept flying me to New York, Miami, because like, I’m meeting all the artists like some of my favorite artists. And I think it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. And then after all of that, ghosts, nothing, no call. And then a few months went by please. Okay, I’m in LA, I want you to come down to the hotel and meet Johnny Gill, and all these artists who I grew up loving. And I’m sitting in the room with these guys. And it was a meeting about being a writer. And I was like, I still want to be an artist. So we went into a separate room, and I said, Hey, I’m ready. And he said, You have to understand how it works. Oh, record label. It’s like, think of it like a football team. You’ve got your varsity, you’ve got all these different players that you’ve got to take care of first, and you just got to wait. And I just was like, wow. So there’s nothing about me that makes you want to just because the line is your star? You’re a star. You’re a star?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 39:07
Yes. And, now what?
Alfred Jackson 39:11
You know, well, let’s start you off with writing. I want you to write for these artists, and you’ll build credit for your name. And then we’ll put you out as like, well, that sounds like a long time, you know, because when you’re a songwriter, unfortunately, it’s still about names, you know, and then you just have to, you know, God, will it be in the right room at the right time? And get that moment? Or just happened to write three words on the song you’re like, I wrote this over Yonsei because this is what I wrote, you know, so that didn’t work out. I had a few situations where I get right to the door, and the door closes. But I’ve learned that those doors were meant to be closed because they were not meant for me. I wouldn’t be the artist saying today if those doors is closed.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 39:58
Seeing as we have many singing teachers who listen to this podcast. What about your training at any point of time? Did you have vocal training? Like formal training?
Alfred Jackson 40:11
No, I just had the performing arts school and high school. So I had training at high school and in front of high school, but it was never like a one on one. I will say there was one teacher her name was Cassie Davies. And I had we were doing fame, the musical fame. One of my favorites. favorite characters, Nick, you know nick? So she, it was time for me to do my solo with her. She’s like, what’d you do today? I say, Oh, I went to the studio before I came. What should we go for? As the only song I wrote? What’s it called? I said, Baby, I’m sorry. So I sang baby I’m sorry. She said what? Baby I’m sorry. What? Baby- She said stop. What are you saying? So what do you mean? She said, open your mouth, Baby I’m sorry, sing it! And I was like, Well I thought– she’s like, No, no one understands that the next thing like that, like that, let it out, open your mouth. And when she said that, it was like, okay, so that was probably the closest thing to like, a one on one other than that it’s been in the studio with different vocal arrangers and kind of go, oh I’m singing like this. There’s that made me keep thinking, Oh, sure. I can do that. But yeah, just being exposed and being in the performing arts.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 41:34
Yes. So have you learned how to, like this thing in the singing voice community support? Absolutely. You know, some people don’t like the word support, but I’m gonna use have you learned about how to support the voice? And how to manage breath and air flow?
Alfred Jackson 41:54
Yes. So they teach that at the school. At the conservatory. All of that is taught at the school. So yeah, they’ll do like, this is the way you do the breathing techniques. These are the exercises. You know, lay on the floor, put a book on your stomach, expand all of that. So yes.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 42:10
Yes. Okay. So you have had that kind?
Alfred Jackson 42:13
Yeah. Just not one on one like, yeah.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 42:17
And what about, then you have done a few musicals. And you were in Book of Mormon. In Sydney, Australia? Yes. But you’ve done a number of musical. How did you get into musicals?
Alfred Jackson 42:33
The conservatory. I started there, at first with my love for just music. And then I knew I wanted to be an actor. And then putting those two together. That’s the perfect combination, you know, so we did little shop floors, I played Seymour. The West Side Story, I played a rap. We did the waves as part of the ensemble cast, but it was so great to be part of that some castles yellowbrickroad, the funky monkeys, all these different characters, which were very important to the show. And a lot of times as young performers, we get so caught up in the ensemble title, like, I’m really good. I could have been I could have been other ways I can. And you have to realize in casting, they cast you in what they need you for. It’s a full picture. It’s not just you not to learn. I really had to learn that. And when I did the Whiz, that’s when I saw and learned the importance of casting and how they how they do it.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 43:27
Yes, yeah. And how was your experience in Australia?
Alfred Jackson 43:33
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 43:34
How was the show? What about your mum, they had a cheap feel about the–
Alfred Jackson 43:40
Well I warned her about the show. And she was like, oh, yeah, okay, that’s fine. What was funny is my grandmother, she’s very religious. And she says, I understand you’re a performer. And you have to do what you have to do. Congratulations. And I was like, that’s the that’s big. Yeah. My mom and my sister, they flew out to Australia for Christmas. And they came to see the show and enjoyed it. They thought it was very funny.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 44:06
Did you feel uncomfortable having them there first?
Alfred Jackson 44:10
So I think the first song for me was hasa diga. If you’ve seen the show, you know what that’s about. So don’t give away to anyone who hasn’t seen the show. I was nervous about that. Because we use that word. And she was fine. She was fine. She just like it’s a show. I get it. I understand. And they’re gonna get time. If you free school as well. It was like, yeah, yeah. That would have been so yeah, I have a great support system. My family and I have some wonderful, amazing best friends who, but I lived in Japan flew out to Japan. Like they’re always wherever you go, I’m coming. So I appreciate that.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 44:46
That’s so cool. And you’ve also done Universal Studios in Japan. 4 years? You must still love that gig.
Alfred Jackson 44:55
I do. I did. You know I love the culture. I love the discipline. Um, and I was just amazed about, but I love the culture. I love the discipline. I love my first experience of going to the temples in Japan and all that it’s in the peacefulness. But it was a great experience because that particular contract also was a challenge because my show was outside. They call it the atmosphere show. Oh, yes. So we were outside during the snow during the rain during freezing, freezing hot hot, like we have cold version, hot version, I learned a lot. And sometimes we have to do sound checks at like 5am, which kind of gets your voice to be able to work in any type of weather. And you can wake up and go, Yeah, I can see because I know what to do to sound good at 5am in the morning. So my first contract was a great experience. I had a friend who before me, she said, Whatever you do, don’t do the second contract right after she said, because you want to still appreciate where you work. I was like, What do you mean? She said, Well, I did it back to back and I found myself not loving it anymore. I shouldn’t went away, and then came back. So like, Okay, so after my first contract, I left did another gig in LA. And they called me and said, We need you to come back. So when I came back, I was like, I’m home. I’m home. I knew where I was going, you know? So I did that contract went home again. I said, Can you come back please? Did it again. And then the third time I went back, I said, Hey, I want to do another full contract for 13 months. And they were like, cool. And the great thing about that was I built relationships, I was able to choreograph for their parade, choreograph their banquet shows, and be a part of the creative process at amusement park, because it’s very excited.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 46:41
Yeah, it sounds like to me you not only loved the job, but you love the lifestyle. Yeah. And you said the Zen. Yeah. And as performance, our lifestyles can be really crazy hectic. Have you taken away some of those things that you learned during your time in Japan and still continue to– and have they become like habitual figures?
Alfred Jackson 47:07
Yeah, I find myself, my alone time is very important to me. And because I was my first time being away from my mom, in Japan, and my family, I found myself alone, with me, discovering me. And a lot of times I like to before a show, or anything like that, especially in Japan, just to be by myself for me. And that’s in that peaceful place. And it just kept going from there. Like whenever I do any contracts, even with the guys, like they’ll be like, Alright, so we’re going to do this and I’m like, Okay, we’re gonna go to my room.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 47:44
Yeah, what do you do for self care? In terms of looking after yourself emotionally, physically, and mentally?
Alfred Jackson 47:52
Yes, self care. What’s important for me, going to the gym, keeps me in a good place, working out. And keeping in touch with one family. And getting close to my grandmother, grandmother since close to my sister and I, every morning.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 48:11
Really? Every day like an affirmation?
Alfred Jackson 48:14
Yes, stuff from the Bible, or just things she’s seen that she thinks would encourage us. And I like to pray in the morning, and just kind of do like a, sometimes I do this thing where I look in the mirror and talk to myself. You are you are talented, you will be successful. That stuff that helps me keep one foot forward, you know, the next day vocally. I like to sleep. It’s very important to get rest. Because for me, we’re on a cruise ship. And yes, we only do shows twice out of the run of the week. I can go out and party. But for me, I still like I feel like I’m still working. So because I’m still working, I’m still on contract. I’m not going to get away with something like that. Because you don’t know what they’ll spring up on you. Hey, so I got sick, your shows early now. And I went out and now have to find this voice. So I try to rest to try to I tried to find out basically based upon me time I like I really enjoy my loads. It’s very important. I mean, I used to be scared of it to be by myself and my my brother. He’s not my blood brother, but he is my brother. He says when you’re okay with being alone, that shows how much you’re calm with yourself. You love yourself. And that is something that I continue to work on being okay with being by myself and enjoy myself. My next goal is to take a trip by myself.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 49:40
Really? So what kind of trip are you talking about?
Alfred Jackson 49:44
Uhm something tropical.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 49:46
Oh, okay. So that kind of–
Alfred Jackson 49:48
Yeah, like because most of the time when I’m on vacation, I’m working. It’s like this is a great job. Yeah, you’re seeing the world. Yes, I’m still working. Yes. And I want to be able to gotten in trouble? I don’t have to see. Unless I want to do karaoke and it’d be okay. And just enjoy me. You know.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 50:07
You said early out that your grandmother sends you little affirmations, and that you look in the mirror and you say things like, I am worthy, I’m worth it. I’m enough. Was there ever a time in your career that you didn’t feel enough?
Alfred Jackson 50:26
Absolutely. Growing up being in this industry, you know, record labels like to, and for me, it was, you can say, but you’re overweight, and you need to lose weight, or let’s cut your hair, let’s close your gap. You know, stuff like that. There was an issue, I guess. And it made me feel like there was something wrong with me, I’m 16. And I’m being told I’m talented, but I’m not talented enough to get the deal because of a weight issue. So I battled with weight going up and down. And, you know, my mom was like, we’re going to all eat healthy, we’re going to help make this change. And it’s still even after that, after losing weight, it was just always something. There was one guy who’s like, you’re a great writer, find your voice with this guy, put it together. That’d be though, that’d be it. And I was like, does he not realize he’s disagree like this is. So it made me feel like I can’t I’m not that guy. I’m not this and started to just tear it. Pull me down and you know, growing up being called ugly, what that experience lead to have it into your adulthood and feel less. Like you have a gift, but you’re the image that needs to be created. And you know, there was nothing wrong with me. But at that time, I thought it was cool. I mean, a boy band, you’ve got two guys with the six packs. I’m considered to be one because I’m not as slim as them. I wasn’t big, but I wasn’t their size. You know, I’m saying so there was a lot of personal battles I was going through. Did you ever feel depressed? Absolutely. There were times where I just there was something to marry you pick out myself. Pull on my fat, with shaggy look this way. There there’s a song where I talk about wishing my skin was a lighter shade of brown. Because of all the nitpicking that thinking, Oh, well, if I was was a lighter complexion this wouldn’t be the issue, just because of what I was singing and what I saw, you know.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 52:38
So how did you overcome that?
Alfred Jackson 52:41
I think one having really good friends, to instill, inspire you and teach you affirmations and help you see the beauty in yourself. But also for me, therapy was writing, writing songs, going through things and acknowledging how I got through them and noticing my work. If they don’t see your job, they’re not meant to see it. They’re not meant to be a part of it. Yes. Prayer, and just learning to love me, and being proud of me for achieving the goals that I want to achieve. You know, when my brother, he said, I’m gonna tell you that you’ll never be scared. So just know that, it only means that like, you lose weight, but your body is made the way it’s supposed to be. So even when you lose weight, it’s going to just own the frame that God has getting, you’re never going to be this getting bought, like that’s just not going to happen. And it kind of just sprang to my ear and I was like, you know, he’s right, just just eat healthy, be healthy, take care of your voice. And you know, when his picture then got a photoshoot, you just get an even more cleaning, you know, because you know, it’s coming up, but I did concerts for my artists stuff. I go into strict eating regimen, which is I want the office to look a certain way I want to give you the show, show, etc. That pop star show, but it’s not because I’m not small enough because you can accept me any size. But yeah, I think just building my confidence and loving me, loving me.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 54:10
So profound. There’s a lesson in that for everybody, because so many artists feel like they’re the only ones that are going through that kind of thing in this industry. But it’s it’s a common thread and made me realize that it’s not just women who are body shame. I thought it was very much women. But I didn’t realize that it was such a thing that guys are too. Yeah. And where are you at now? What are you working on right now?
Alfred Jackson 54:40
Where am I right now? I just released an album UGLY your greatest legacies this year, it came out July 17th. And I’m very very proud of it because it touches on self love, self worth, relationships, knowing when to let go. Like my own personal diary. I have my thoughts and my experiences. And I wanted to inspire other people to choose, choose you, it’s very important to choose you because you have to do that first. Yeah, relationships, family, because your happiness is very important. That’s how you stay sane. And you realize what you’re willing to put up with and what you’re not willing to put up with. The other thing is legacy to my community. You know, I wasn’t taught about Alexei I was taught to survive. And I want to encourage more people, my community to the importance of generational wealth, you know, I’m young, I can set a foundation now for my children’s children’s children. And I think it’s very important that we know more about that. Do what we can do to leave a name for ourselves. How we can leave that imprint. You decide with this life is you own it, you make a decision, your greatest legacy is who? You!
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 55:52
Alfred Jackson 55:53
It’s your path. So yeah, that’s what this album is about. Side A and Side B will come out next year, which more pop music because I love today is. So yeah, I’m really excited. We’re in the process of I’m listening to new records. I’ve already recorded some records. But you know how that fine tuning goes with recording so.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 56:14
So in wrapping up, what advice would you give to up and coming artists?
Alfred Jackson 56:20
My advice to up and coming artists. Number one, you are enough. And don’t ever compromise what you stand for as an artist. Because some people don’t see and understand your dream your brand. And if they don’t see they’re not meant to be a part of it. Don’t change what you stand for. It’s very, very important. And have fun. Being an artist is supposed to have fun. And if someone’s taking the fun out of it, they’re probably not meant to be in that, that realm. And surround yourselves with people who are going to be honest. Tell you the truth. Your team is very important. But most importantly, be yourself. Be authentic, be creative. And don’t ever second guess if you know something that you want to do, just do it, even if it’s not, doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to just do it. Because if it doesn’t work, you can do something else. No regrets.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 57:13
Yes. And what about the singing teachers? What advice have you got for singing teachers?
Alfred Jackson 57:19
My advice for singing teacher, it’s very important to let your students know that they are in a safe place. When I tell my students like listen, you’re going to cry, you’re going to hit bad notes. It’s okay. This is the place where it’s okay. So feel free to explore because it’s safe. It’s a safe place. I think that the artists needs to feel safe so they can explore and be able to grow.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 57:45
Yes. And that’s what this podcast stands for, too. And that’s what I advocate for is creating safe spaces for all voices.
Alfred Jackson 57:56
Because they’re all different.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 57:57
Yes, we are all different. And we have to find our most authentic voice. And as voice teachers, we have to allow that in our students too.
Alfred Jackson 58:06
It’s very important.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 58:07
And so you have your latest work that’s coming up that’s being released. Part of it has been released already. We’re going to share that the link to all your work, show notes with the listeners. Do yourself a favor and go and listen to Alfred Jackson. He is incredible. And I feel very privileged that you have allowed me to interview you on this podcast. It’s been such a joy getting to know you you are a true gentleman. Such a remarkable human, keep shining your light for you. You are brilliant. So thank you and best wishes to be your future.
Alfred Jackson 58:07
Thank you so much, I’ll see you soon. Bye.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 58:07
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 58:52
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of A Voice and Beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag #AVoiceAndBeyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you would like to help me please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple Podcast right now. But I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway. Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of A Voice and Beyond.