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MILLIE JACKSON 1974 INTERVIEW
SAYIN' WHAT COMES NATURALLY
October 1974, In person interview conducted by David Nathan in Brooklyn at Millie's apartment

Millie Jackson, as funny as ever, was the subject of one of David's first U.S. in person interviews. She made sure it was memorable, sharing about about a new album ("Caught Up") that would in fact provide her with a breakthrough into widespread recognition"


If there is truly any justice, 1974 will see the final emergence of the magnificent Mille Jackson right at the top of her field, where she so rightfully belongs. Certainly one of the most underrated soul sisters around today. Millie began to make some real strides, career-wise, during 1973, scoring with the soulful “It Hurts So Good”, which took the lovely lady to the top reaches of the soul charts, as well as hitting home on the pop charts. The song, penned by Philip Mitchell was featured in the movie, “Cleopatra Jones”, a factor which undoubtedly contributed to the success of the record.

Then, at the end of ’73, Millie was honoured in the musical trade papers and indeed, was featured fourth in the “Blues & Soul” Poll for that year. Speaking from her office in New York, Millie confirmed that 1973 had been her best year so far but she too hoped that 1974 would be even better.

“Yeah, last year was great! So far, things have been going really well this year, too. The record company is really going all out behind my new album, “Millie” and it’s doing very well, sales-wise. But we have a few more things planned for later this year, so we’ll wait and see what happens. But I do think I’m gonna make it through this year – I sure hope so!”

Perhaps the single most striking aspect of Ms. Jackson’s work that certainly distinguishes her totally from her female counterparts is her total commitment to truth – truth in the lyrical content of her music. Millie touches upon subject which most ladies – and gentlemen for that matter - are loath to broach; racial prejudice (“A Child of God”), corruption (“Hypocrisy”), and sex (“In The Wash” and “One Night Stand” – both on the lady’s new Spring album).

‘I guess the reason I sing about certain thing is because I’m outspoken. There are some things that have to be said and it seems like I’m the only woman saying them right now. In fact, a lot of times people don’t compare me with other female singers but with my male counterparts! I guess I ought to regard that as a compliment!” she laughed.

Indeed, Millie is pretty uncompromising when it comes down to the nitty-gritty and she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Not only does she sing what she feels, she writes it too. One of the strongest cuts from the brilliant “Hurts So Good” set is her own “Hypocrisy” and from her newest set, Millie had a hand in writing her latest single, “I Got To Try It One Time” and the plain speaking “In The Wash”, she explained a little about that song.

“To be honest, all we had on the song to kick off with was the rhythm track. I heard the lyrics and I decided to change them around a bit to suit what I wanted to say. Next thing I knew, I was offered a part of the song’s copyright after I’d changed it around! Sure, I like the new LP but I think I prefer the “Hurts So Good” album more – there are some really good tracks on that one”.

Millie obviously feels that it is important to get across the woman’s point of view through music and she was very excited about her next set due for June release, which she “says should really make a lot of difference to my career”. Millie didn’t express any particularly militant views on women’s lib or anything like that but she did take time to explain about the upcoming album and what it has to say.

“Well, it’s kind of a concept thing, I’m very, very happy with it – I did have a hand in producing it and in fact, I really worked on as much of the product as I could. The actual album comprises seven tracks: on one side, there are dedicated to the feelings and situation of the housewife in relation to her husband.

“In amongst them is Bobby Womack’s” I’m Thru Trying To Prove My Love” and that gives you some idea of what that side is all about. Then, the other four songs are giving the attitude and position of ‘the other woman’ – the man’s girlfriend. Luther lngram’s “If Loving You Is Wrong” is one of the tracks on that part of the album. I wrote two of the songs myself and I must say, I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done!.

“The way we’ve arranged it is that it’s non-stop, with one song running into the next. We cut it at Criteria Sound and Muscle Shoals and Brad Shapiro worked on it with me. It’s the first time any woman has come out and told it like it is and as I far as I can see, it’s the first time anyone’s really tackled the ‘love triangle’ situation from the female’s point of view. All I can say is that if it isn’t successful at all, doesn’t even sell one copy, I really will give up! But seriously, I think it should really help me to get ahead because a lot of thought has gone into it”.

Obviously a lot of what Millie sings about as a woman is a reflection of what she’s experienced and she did have a few things to say about the female role as an entertainer.

“You know, it’s very difficult being a woman in show business. You have to work that much harder to prove yourself and you know, everyone is always worried about women getting pregnant and so on, That’s what’s caused so many female groups to break up – but these days that’s not such a problem – after all, we’re all on the pill! But really, being a woman and an entertainer can be very hard. A career woman has to be just that: she can’t really maintain a proper family and home when she’s out all the time on the road.

“I guess I regard myself as a career woman because I’m determined to succeed in what I’, doing. How do I manage to have a personal life? Well, I run in, grab what I can and get out: Millie exclaimed, laughingly, “But it can be tough. I do want to spend more time with my family, but we’re always touring and so on. Yeah, I’ve got two kids but I’m separated from my husband and we’re on the way to the divorce counts right now. Still, that’s the way thing go, I guess”.

Much of what Millie says reflects her innate human qualities and our Editor had advised me that I’d probably end up in stitches, laughing at Millie’s fantastically warm sense of humour, Indeed, she is easily one of the nicest ladies I’ve ever come across and although we’ve never met, she sounds like she’s one of the sexiest – but that’s something else again!

To return to the highly personable lady: “What I’d really like to do is to get into comedy, you know. So many people tell me that I’d be good at it and I must admit I really do love making people laugh. The way I see myself is a kind of “black Carol Burnett”! I’d never give up singing entirely but I’m hoping there’s a chance I might be getting a comedy role in an upcoming movie or something like that so that I could get into that field.

“As far as my career goes, the most important thing to me is to keep on doing what I’m doing right now: telling it like it is. I may never make it as a great superstar, But I don’t care. To me, what I’m doing is a means of making a living and one that I enjoy. In terms of acceptance and money, there are some women who have definitely made it. But for me, one of the greatest stars around today is Gladys Knight. I’ve been digging her since she first started out and we do one of her tunes on the new album, “Letter Full Of Tears”. If I get to the position she’s in now, I’ll be quite happy but if not, I’m satisfied to carry on as I am – trying to get over”.

Millie Jackson is certainly in line for a lot more success because above all, you can sense a feeling of total down-to-earth humanity about the lady. She reveals that lyrics that she writes (mostly whilst she’s on the road “working my can off,” she says) are usually drawn from conversations and are sparked off by personal experiences. The fact that she is strong enough to comment and sing about so many everyday occurrences – things to which most ordinary folk can certainly relate – whilst so many people are content to pretend that what’s really happening isn’t (if you know what I mean) is a testimony to the power of Millie Jackson.

All I can say is more power to Millie Jackson: a bold, outspoken, sassy but beautifully bad soul sister! She can come check me out anytime she wants!

About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.
  
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