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Jackie Neal

From Soul Express 2/2000


Lookin' For A Sweet Thang was produced and written by Jackie's friend, Leni "D'yo" Holmes, for his own Backstreet Records out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There's, however, one song, a bouncer called Keep It Up Woman, that is not performed by Jackie but by a guy named Ronnie Neal. "That's my brother. He's a recovered alcoholic and he always wanted to do something, so I let him do something on my CD, letting him know that we haven't forgotten about him." Ronnie is a duetist also on a bluesy swayer called Shattered By A Whisper.

The rest six cuts are all interpreted by Jackie alone, who vocally at times reminds me a lot of Margie Joseph. According to Jackie, a snappy dancer called Nooky Thang is making waves at the moment, but for me the cream cuts are three impressive, southern soul deepies - Right Thang, Wrong Man (also getting a lot of airplay in the south), Sweet Thang and M.A.N. "M.A.N. was released as a single about three-four years ago on Backstreet Records, and then we came back and did the album."

Although M.A.N. was her first single and recorded only recently, Jackie is no new-comer to the scene. She was born on July 7th, 1967, in New Roads, Louisiana, to a singing family of seven brothers and two sisters. One of her brothers is a well-known blues singer and guitarist called Kenny Neal, and equally famous is her dad, Raful Neal, who has recorded ever since the 50s by singing blues and playing harp. "My mother, Shirley Neal, has inspired me a lot. She loves to see me perform, and I always dedicate my show to her."

Jackie herself is more into rhythm & blues, and she names Tina Turner her biggest idol. "I've been singing since five, but I didn't start professionally till I was like about twenty-four. Now I'm doing major festivals around my home town, like the Mississippi area. I do the whole CD on my show. Now I'm also looking for a major record deal. If I can get my way, I can do the job."
-Heikki Suosalo

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