- Posted on Mar 18th 2011 3:30PM by Charley Rogulewski
Taylor Hill, Getty Images
"This is not the most professional thing y'all will see, but Elvis did this in Las Vegas," Wanda begins to tell the SXSW crowd gathered Thursday afternoon at the South By San Jose party -- one of many memories of the King she would share with the crowd during her performance.
"He was doing a new song and needed notes," the 73-year-old says picking up a lyrics sheet. "If the King could do it, the Queen could do it."
Jackson covered many songs she penned with the King of rock 'n' roll during her evening set, including the classic "uh-huh" number 'Heartbreak Hotel' -- lyric sheet aside, songs like 'Fujiyama Mama,' 'Rip It Up' and 'Riot in a Cell Block' rolled off her tongue with a reverberating yodel that recalled the shiny, rhinestone-era of rockabilly.
But while Elvis was the friend that gave Jackson courage, as she explained to the crowd mid-set, it was Jack White who brought her into the 21st century. And, indeed, it was White who introduced Jackson to a whole new crowd of music lovers when he signed on to produce her latest effort, 'The Party Ain't Over.'
Calling her a "veteran" musician would be an understatement; this isn't Jackson's first rodeo. She is a regular at the Continental Club in Austin, gigging there every year for God only knows how long. Although it seemed like many had attended the gig in hopes of seeing White in action (rumblings of his appearance had earned the show the unofficial tag "the Jack White thing").
"He's full of surprises," Jackson said of no-show White during her performance. "You never know what he will pull out of his sleeve.
"This song scared me to death when he showed it to me, but I went ahead, and it took a lot of guts," she said before showing her true grit on Amy Winehouse's 'You Know I'm No Good.'
Watching Jackson one can only wish they'll have as much swagger at her age someday -- if you even live that long. But, we'll tell you one thing, after you see this lady live, you'll leave saying you've never seen someone sing with such a big smile on their face.