When Young Gisele Jackson Learned To Love Music
In her father’s version of daycare, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, and John Lee Hooker were her capable babysitters, while he whipped up mouth-watering soul food in the kitchen of a Black-owned bar in her native Baltimore. Gisele delighted at the music coming from the jukebox, marveling at the effect it had on the patrons.
She soon became a student of the local live music scene, which having already given birth to many of the first Black music greats was now welcoming fledging icons of the 70s and 80s. It was then, front and backstage, that she learned the art of entertaining and this would eventually influence her personal style. Entranced by seeing the fellow young Jackson 5 perform just a stone’s throw from her seat, further incited Gisele’s childhood inclination to sing. It wasn’t long before this young soul sister with the Angela Davis Afro began to stun audiences with her own world class voice and show stopping stage performance. By the time she was a Fine Arts freshman on a talent scholarship at Howard University in Washington, D.C., she was fronting and touring throughout the DC Metro area with her classic soul band.
“American soul music is timeless,” says Ms. Jackson. “It is just a righteous music with astute vocals and funky instrumentals.”
Before making Brooklyn, NY her heart and home, Gisele toured as a ‘Raylette’ with Ray Charles at the peak of his career, having since also shared many a stage with the incomparable Donna Summer and James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. She has performed in 30+ countries; covering 4 continents: Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. She’s performed solo at the leading jazz house in the U.S. and been the opening act for Tito Puente, Bette Midler, The Commodores, the B-52’s and a host of other music giants across a variety of genres. A most memorable performance was at Carnegie Hall (with Kid Rock) and the NY Pops; Marvin Hamlisch conductor. Other performances include festivals, major openings, numerous celebrity weddings and corporate events for Fortune 500 companies, Hollywood premieres and award ceremonies. She was requested to perform at the Inauguration of U.S. President William H. Clinton. So she did!
Billboard magazine called her a “diva” on the heels of her worldwide smash hit “Love Commandments.” The single reached No. 3 on Billboard’s dance chart, catapulting Gisele into the hierarchy of House and the consciousness of the Dance Music community. This power track was on the playlists of every top House music DJ in the world. Today the song is a bonifide “Club Classic”. She ‘let them have it’ at legendary dance clubs Vinyl and Twilo in New York City, Billboard Live and Axis in Los Angeles, The Red Ball in Toronto, and at London’s Ministry of Sound.
Her stage credits include Effie in ‘Dream Girls’, Bessie in the ‘Life & Death of Bessie Smith’, Evilene in ‘The Wiz’, Luttibelle in ‘Purlie’ and Frankie in ‘Carmen Jones’. Gisele has appeared on television, including a worldwide commercial campaign for Johnnie Walker featuring Martin Scorsese.
Today, Gisele is a cultural ambassador on a creative continuum that allows her to share and interpret her beloved music with audiences around the world – from New York to Norway, Morocco to Malaysia and from Barcelona to Beirut.