When it comes to iconic American musicians, covers and tributes can be tricky territory. Nobody wants to be “an almost-Elvis” or “a mediocre-Marley.”
In the case of Judi Jackson, however, one finds a remarkable exception. Jackson does not just cover the classics, she rivals them.
Jackson, a junior theatre major at the University of Mary Washington, actively sings and performs around campus. On Friday, Sept. 13, Jackson performed at Blackstone Coffee in Eagle Village to promote her new album that will be released on Sept. 24 in more than 10 countries.
Accompanied by musical and romantic partner Corrie Campbell on guitar, Jackson opened the show with The Impressions’ 1965 hit “People Get Ready.”
Hardly seconds into the song, the noise inside Blackstone Coffee subsided. All ears tuned to Jackson’s richly dynamic voice.
“I’m just always impressed by Judi’s voice,” said junior Maggie Wilder. “She can do so much with it. Every time I hear her sing, it sounds different, in a good way, and it’s just amazing. I never get over it.”
At multiple points, Jackson and Campbell wowed the crowds with spot-on covers of classic tunes. During Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” Jackson captured the deep silkiness of Simone’s voice, and on Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” she replicated the raw emotion distinctively associated with Withers’ style.
That is not to say Jackson is the only one with a set of golden pipes. Over the course of the show, Campbell gradually revealed his vocal talent. At first just harmonizing with Jackson on certain songs, Campbell later sang the melody on others.
“I thought they blended really well,” said freshman Gwen Levey. “I’m blown away. And both of them were so good. It was really great.”
From heartfelt blues to upbeat folk, Jackson’s set list ventured through an eclectic mix of genres, all falling somewhere under the umbrella of “Americana.”
Regardless of genre, the duo consistently added their own style to the set. Song flowed into song with a kind of natural cohesiveness.
Of course, the performance would not have been complete without Jackson’s and Campbell’s magnetic personalities. The duo shares a charming chemistry with each other, and that in itself is a compelling aspect to the show.
Junior Isun Malekghassemi said, “Judi’s a natural performer. She has a very good charm on stage. You see her perform in jazz band, and she’s great. You see perform solo, and she’s great with that too.”