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Jill King
Blue Diamond Records
Album: Jillbilly

Why choose Jillbilly for the title of her first album? For starters, she grew up on a farm on the outskirts in a small town in Alabama; sang in church and for the family as a toddler. Secondly, her musical roots sink deep into the mother bed of country music Ė nourished by the influences of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline. She credits Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson and Harlan Howard as influences that cultivated her songwriting talents.

So the title Jillybilly tells it all, or does it? As you talk with her, you recognize that sheís a delicious mix of class and cool and country, a confident performer who embraces her musical background. You appreciate her dark-haired beauty and the soft Southern lilt in her speaking voice. The whole package looks as if she could have easily played Scarlet OíHara, the original "Steel Magnolia." Thatís a good thing.

Armed with a fresh B.S. in English from Vanderbilt University, she signed her writerís deal with a small, independent publishing company. She relishes the artistic freedom that gives her. Though she can approach songwriting as a job, sheís more in-tune with what she calls "organic" writing, gathering inspiration from human emotions

"Iím getting a little more used to going into a room with someone Iíve never met and in three hours construct a song, but thatís not my favorite way to do it. My favorite way is to be really inspired, think a title, and a feeling and an emotion and have it all come together while Iím sitting on my back porch. In fact, thatís the way I wrote my next single."

That single, "Three Months, Two Weeks, and One Day," one of the three cuts that she wrote, is her fourth release from the album. Her impact on the charts from the previous releases, "One Mississippi," "98.6 Degrees," and "Hand Me Down Heartache," led Music Row Magazine in March of this year to name her the Music Row Independent Country Breakout Artist of the Year.

Kudos abound for King,

Chuck Daughin in "Itís a Country Thang," "I will go on record by saying this Ö Jill King is one of the best new talents, major label or independent that I have heard in some time Ö One of the best true singers I have heard in a while Ö Take it from me Ö this King has what it takes to be a Country Queen."

Robert Oermann, in @Music Row, "This Jillbilly has my full attention. Sheís a commanding vocalist who takes this propulsive tune around the track at full throttle."

Rick Cahoon for Allmusic.com, "The first thing that hits you is that voice Ö the second thing is the singerís confidence and conviction ... For her first album, King deserves kudos for her obvious care in choosing material, including songs she penned herself. Above and beyond her strong performance, Jillbilly is an excellent offering of tradition with a modern twist."

Back to the moment, is Fan fair going well for you?

"Yeah, it is Ė when I was a fan I came here and I met Darlene Austin, and she was so nice to me; she was one of the background singers on Nashville Now. I met a bunch of people and had so much fun (I said to myself) Iím gonna be like she was and Iím going to talk to everybody when I go back, and Iím not going back until I have my own booth. The funny thing about Darlene is that I met her the first day I signed with my publishing company. She walked right in the door, and now weíre great friends."

Is there anything else that youíd like the fans to know? "Just that Iím not leaving." "I feel really blessed to do what I do. Iím very thankful for it.

Did we say confident? Did we say cool? Did we say country? Thatís Jill King, a super singer/songwriter with a special talent for staying grounded in traditional country music while presenting it all in an impressive "mainstream" package.


Feature article by Helen Neal

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