Jacqui Stephens - Singer, Lyricist & Recording Artist

Want to find out about more about me, where I grew up etc?  You will find details of this below.

"I was not brought up in a musical family and the only way I was going to achieve success was to believe in myself and put my nose to the grind-stone, work very hard and learn about an industry I knew nothing about. I learnt many mistakes along the way, but believe this has made me a much stronger person and an overall better artist.”

Biography

Born on the 5th March, Jacqui Holt grew up in the small town of Rochdale, Lancashire, the very same town as the famous Soul sensation, Lisa Stansfield, with whom she became friends.  Jacqui also worked with the comedian Bobby Ball at the Braces Nightclub in Rochdale, which has now been demolished. Jacqui and Lisa, while in a school production recorded some of the songs from ‘SCHITZOPHRENIA’ at the famous Tractor Music/Cargo Studios/Suite 16 in Rochdale, where the likes of Joy Division and other famous bands have previously recorded. Jacqui was also a member of the famous Debrose Ladies Choir, Rochdale Infirmary Players and Rochdale Amateur Dramatics Society.

Jacqui is currently collaborating with musician Daniel A Hayden on some new material for the third album.  Jacqui is also currently collaborating with a DJ/Producer called Chris Ellis on some new dance tracks. 

Jaqui has already collaborated with Chris Ellis on two tracks for an album called CollaborNation, recording and putting her vocals/lyrics to Dance/Trance music beats. This was  a new challenge for her due to the fact that house and oldskool are genres that she hasn’t really visited in the past, stating that:  “The Music Industry is forever changing and you cannot stay within the music era you were born. Versatility in my opinion is the way to branch out very easily into all musical genres. Too many artists today have only learnt to sing one genre, which limits them to that genre. If they become successful artists in that one genre, then that is brill, but I feel this will be a very small percentage. I enjoy the challenge of learning new music genres.”

Jacqui was signed to a Swedish management label from 2012 to 14, however had to pull the plug due to a lack of support and promotion.  This goes to show that you do not always require management or a label to advance your music career.  This can be achieved in various other ways, mainly social media and music sites.

Jacqui's album ‘FREE SPIRIT’ was completed in December 2011 has been distributed and is on sale globally. This album was written, produced and funded by herself, which was a struggle considering she has not performed live for many years. The album is very different from the material she usually sings. A natural powerhouse vocalist, Jacqui struggled to keep her powerful vocals under control whilst recording this album. The song ‘FOREVER MINE’ (feat. Robin Maughan) from her album has recently been played on M.M.I.R Radio Birmingham. The song ‘UPON REFLECTION’ also from her album has already been played on rotation at Butterflies Radio, which is based in Florida and Australia, also on rotation at ImsRadio, which covers the InStore retail chain and seems to be the world favourite on her Reverbnation page. The song ‘FREEDOM’, also from her album was listened to by BBC Manchester producers, but unfortunately did not receive airplay. The song is also on hold with Holly Steeles management in America.

“The album is a lyrical wonder, a lament of deep emotion. Most topical on matters of the heart and very touching. The impression given is that her soul was singing and the lyrics coming straight from her heart. It is peppered with grief and sadness, which provokes very strong emotions in the listener.”  (Aisha Shah) 

Jacqui then decided to contact the Feel Good Cafe Emporium in Rochdale where she did her first live performance in many years, in January 2013, singing some of  her favourite covers and original songs from her album. In February 2012, Jacqui was invited to audition in front of the judges in Birmingham for ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, the day before she was to sign with her Management. In October 2010, Jacqui was offered a 5 year recording contract with a Label in Milton Keynes, but decided not to sign after seeking advice from Martin at Gracielands Studio, which is owned by Lisa Stansfield.

 In October 2009, Jacqui decided to produce, record and fund her own covers album called ‘ALL COVERED UP’. She initially recorded 6 tracks at Gracielands studios in Rochdale. After recording the 6 tracks, Jacqui decided that she did not like the direction and shape the songs were taking. They were starting to sound over-produced, and her intention was to have the songs sound as vocally natural as possible, so they could be re-created at a live performance.

In December 2009, Jacqui then went to Studio Studio Recording in Whitworth Rochdale, where she started to record her covers album again from scratch. She originally recorded 22 tracks, but chose only 18 for the completed album.

“I specifically stated that I did not require the use of auto-tuning, Cubase or Pro-tools on my album. I had one track out of the 18, subtly double-tracked, but echo, reverb and delay were used on all my tracks”.

She recorded a lot of different songs from different genres to show the versatility of her vocals and that her voice could adapt to different styles. Jacqui’s cover album ‘ALL COVERED UP’ was completed in 2010. This album was also produced and funded by herself.

Jacqui’s goal now, is to work with her Management/Producer with the view to promoting and selling her ‘FREE SPIRIT’ album and the dance/trance tracks, produced and recorded, which she hopes will eventually hit the mainstream charts.

In December 2005, Jacqui appeared on the X Factor live final, along with 9 other unsuccessful auditionees, singing a line each from ‘MY WAY’ by Frank Sinatra. This was a great experience and gave her an insight into singing live on television. In 2004, Jacqui completed her BTEC National Certificate in Music Practice at the Oldham College, Lancashire, covering everything from music technology to putting a band together from scratch and performing live at the Grange Arts Theatre in Oldham, Lancashire. Jacqui gained a double grade distinction distinction for this course.

In 1999, Jacqui appeared on The Trisha Show as a Celine Dion look/sound- alike, where an audience member requested that she sang a few lines of the ‘Titanic’ song. ‘This was a great experience and my first real taste of live television’.

Jacqui’s natural talent manifested itself at the age of 7, when she did her first live performance on Blackpool Pier, with her younger sister singing ‘It’s a good ship lollipop’. At the age of 8, she joined the school choir. At the age of 10, she watched ‘Opportunity Knocks’ and was very much influenced by the young Lena Zavaroni to pursue a career in music. Jacqui’s father bought her Lena Zavaroni’s first vinyl LP and she learnt that once she could reproduce the big vocals, she knew what she wanted to be. Although Jacqui had this powerful vocal talent, her parents could not support her in the way they probably would have liked, due mainly to the lack of financial resources, but this did not deter her and made her even more determined to pursue her dream. 

Jacqui grew up with musical influences, such as, the Beach Boys, the Stylistics, the Original Platters, the Three Degrees, Michael Jackson, Demis Roussos, Abba etc. but none of these really influenced her musically or vocally. She was more influenced by the big powerhouse vocalists of the time such as, Shirley Bassey, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Leann Rimes and more recently, Charice, Jessie J and Demi Lovato.

From the age of 13, she was writing her own lyrics, which she still has today. At the age of 14, Jacqui’s mum entered her into a local talent competition, where she came 2nd. After her performance, her mum was approached by the concert secretary, who told her that Jacqui would be brilliant with a big orchestra behind her. To this day, she has yet to experience singing with a big orchestra.

At the age of 15 Jacqui had a residency at a local venue called The Lamp Lighters Club, under the stage name of Jay C. She was also singing in various pubs and clubs throughout the Northwest. Jacqui had an agent at that time, but due to a bad experience, she decided to embark on getting her own gigs, which was most certainly a big challenge.

At the age of 18, while singing in Dukes Nightclub, where she worked behind the bar and did a resident spot on a Thursday evening, she was approached by Paul from Pennine Sound Studios in Oldham, Lancashire to put her vocals down on some cover songs by Brenda Lee. Unfortunately, Jacqui was full of a cold on the day of the recording, so the vocal quality was not very good. 

In her early 20’s Jacqui then decided to join a local band called ‘DRIVE BY NIGHT’, which she had to audition for. The band covered many songs by different artists, such as Bruce Springsteen,  Feargal Sharkey, Alison Moyet etc. After a few years of doing the club circuit, Jacqui decided to give it up because she did not want to be known as a club/cabaret singer. She was looking more at becoming a singer/lyricist/recording artist.

Throughout her music career, Jacqui has auditioned for a lot of talent shows such as ‘Opportunity Knocks’, ‘Tiswas’, ‘Star for a Night’, Britain’s Got Talent’, The X Factor etc.

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