Folks may know Carly Jo Jackson from her run in last year's America's Got Talent competition and from having judge Howard Stern refer to her as "charismatic." The Orlando native, barely in her twenties, has been performing around South Florida and is well-known to the coffeehouse and collegiate crowd.
Now enjoying the exposure of having made a deep run in the competition where she ended as a finalist, Carly Jo's musical future is bright, matched by her enthusiasm and genuine good nature. We had a chance to catch up with the young chanteuse before she kicks off the inaugural For the Love Fest hosted by C&I Studios an Exposed PR this weekend.
See also: Boca Singer Carly Jo Jackson Makes America's Got Talent Audition
New Times: If we were talking a year ago, where would you be musically?
Carly Jo Jackson: A year ago, I would have just returned from the 30A Songwriters Festival and found out that I was going to New Jersey for the next round of America's Got Talent in front of the judges. But AGT doesn't allow you to announce that, so if we were talking, I would have been all mysterious and full of excitement about the coming year and all the surprises it would offer.
Let's talk about the short time in which you've been performing, specifically from when you started performing to recording "Wildflower;" what were your goals and intentions then?
I have been performing since I was 13 and wrote "Wildflower" when I was 18, so it hasn't been a short time really. I have been working hard at this for 8 years now. "Wildflower" was written and recorded when I first started college and was struggling with the conflict of pursuing my dream of a career performing my music versus doing what was expected of me: going to college. While I would love to do both, I have taken a break from college to focus 100% on music.
I have known since I can remember that this is what I wanted to do. The great response to "Wildflower," and the opportunity to record it with Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional), just gave me the confidence I needed to keep up the pursuit!
You had a good and impressive run on America's Got Talent, walk us through the process, from auditioning to starting the season and competing weekly.
A lot of the AGT process is confidential, so I can't give you all the details. But what you saw on TV in two short episodes last summer actually started with my first audition in Miami in October 2013. "Judgment Week," which was my last week on the show, was intense. It was ten to 12 hour days of rehearsals, shooting b-roll and lots of waiting around for something to happen.
I was in New York City for a whole week but barely got to see the town! They grouped the female singers together and we became good friends. It wasn't really like a competition between us; we were very supportive of each other. I got to work with some top people in the entertainment business preparing for my audition so the experience I gained was incredible. It was long and grueling and had my emotions soaring but I would do it again in a heartbeat!
What was your most memorable moment on the show and how do you feel about Stern calling you "charismatic?"
The fact that the most intimidating judge on the show, on any reality show, liked me meant the world to me! Charismatic is a good thing... I'll take it!
The most memorable moment was after I performed in front of the judges and an audience of over 5,000 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. I was still on the adrenalin high of the performance and being voted through to the next round, and I walked outside to look for my family. I was immediately swarmed by a huge mob of new fans waiting outside to take selfies with me and get my autograph. To have that kind of feedback from a performance was more encouraging than even the words of the judges and has inspired me more than anything else to keep following my dreams.