In 2010, the then-18-year-old found herself face-to-face with the toughest man in music, Simon Cowell, when she auditioned for “American Idol.” While she did make it to Hollywood, she was eliminated in the finalist round, but that didn’t stop her from winning the 2010 Texaco Country Showdown, performing on the car racing circuit at Daytona and Mobile (she also will perform in Talladega on May 4) and opening her own business with her family, Popcornopoly.
Her star has only gotten brighter as she has continued to write and perform, and is preparing to release her debut album. But before she takes the stage tonight at The Smoking Moose, read about the Texas native’s journey to the top, how she perks up for popcorn, and what she really thinks of Simon.
What made you decide to try out for “American Idol,” and more importantly, what’s Simon really like?
I moved to Nashville when I was 16 and I was chomping at the bit to audition! I didn’t feel I was ready to really compete, though, until I was 18. Simon is actually a pleasant fellow. I was so blessed to be on the show during his last season. He liked me, so I was a happy chick. I have actually tried out for “The Voice,” “X-Factor” and “American Idol” every year since I was cut from “Idol.” But I think in the big scheme, it’s all about timing and what is in store for “your” unique road.
Clearly you have talent; you won the 2010 Country Showdown, you became a finalist on American Idol, you are continuing to perform music — what do you do when you face adversity?
I never give up. If everything were easy, I would know I wasn’t growing and I wasn’t pushing to be the absolute best I could be — gotta keep on keeping on. I start and end the day on my knees. Whether I feel like it or not, it keeps me from forgetting who I am without all the noise.
What inspires you when you are writing music, and what do you have to have nearby when you are working?
Life and people. I know it [sounds] cliché, but the human heart is something that absolutely leaves me speechless. As long as I’m breathing, I’m never going to lose my inspiration.
I also get ideas from books, commercials and movies — gives me a good excuse to go see all those sappy chick flicks.
I definitely have to have candles and dim lighting. A guitar is mandatory and depending on the weather outside, sometimes I break out my piano and write on my first love.
You performed at Daytona in February, Mobile in March, and will be performing at the Talladega Superspeedway this weekend — what’s your soundtrack when you hit the road?
I didn’t realize how much at home I would feel in the racing family! I love their passion for music and we share the need for speed and competition.
Because I played softball for so many years, I love how racing is second nature to me in being competitive, and we share the love of winning! The race fans I met at Daytona and Mobile showed me so much love, that I can’t wait to get to Talladega to see them again!
My soundtrack is pretty mixed up. I make a new playlist for myself every month, so April had everybody from The Wanted, Miranda Lambert, Redlight King, Lee Brice, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Jason Aldean, Kelly Clarkson, Civil Wars, The Wanted and Carrie Underwood. Right now I have the new Bonnie Raitt record in my car.
You also have a side business, Popcornopoly, based near Nashville. It seems that you have really immersed yourself in the city of Nashville — what made you start it, and how do you balance it all?
Growing up, I was allergic to several things — nuts, milk, chocolate, whey, pineapple … so desserts were very limited. However, popcorn was a staple in my home. We realized that there were no popcorn stores in Nashville at the time, so we decided to start one! It has been a crazy ride, but we are in our second year and just opened our third location in the new Opry Mills Mall.
It has taken a few lessons in juggling, but I have an amazing family and they work with me on a daily basis to make everything flow. I think as an artist or a professional in any area of life, diversity is extremely important.
I believe that having a well-rounded outlook on life makes things easier. Life is more fulfilling because you realize how small you are in the big scheme of things and that the world is a wonderful exciting adventure!
What are you working on now? When can we expect to hear new music from you?
I am actually working on a new album that’s going to be different from a lot of mainstream country stuff going on right now.
It’s country but Jaclyn’s way. I have a new single that I’m currently promoting, “Never Give Up.” Go to jaclynnorth.com/freedownload to get a copy of it. This is a teaser from the new record and let me tell you … it’s gonna be a good one!