by Shelby C. Berry
Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, John Legend, and the Jonas Brothers started in the church, a safe place to share talent while worshipping the Lord in their way and blessing those around them. This faith-based music also got 20-year-old Louisiana native Jacey Jacobson performing. While it primarily drives her musical passion today, it didn’t spur the initial sparkle in her eye like bluegrass music.
“I don’t come from a musical family, but my dad loves bluegrass music,” said Jacey. “I grew up going to bluegrass music festivals for as long as I can remember. I went to a bluegrass festival called Pecan Ridge Bluegrass Festival in Jackson, Louisiana, when I was 3, and I noticed what an upright bass was for the first time. I watched a family play at the festival, and their daughter played the upright bass. I told my dad I wanted to play that.”
While the upright bass was a little too big for her, Jacey’s dad did buy her a fiddle for her fourth birthday and contacted a music teacher at Louisiana State University to teach her lessons.
Ironically enough, Jacey performed onstage for the first time at Pecan Ridge Bluegrass Festival with The Saltgrass Band only a few years later.
“The Saltgrass Band really helped me a lot, and I got to play with them every year,” said Jacey. “They always let me play with them, and they were always so supportive of me.”
Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a bluegrass music community in the Louisiana area, so Jacey focused more on classical music and classical training on the violin.
“Classical music wasn’t something that I necessarily enjoyed, but I went to a lot of bluegrass festivals and got to play the music I loved,” said Jacey. “I went to a lot of SPBGMA events and played at a local venue called The Old South Jamboree. I just played anywhere I could. That’s what got me involved in playing for church and the Baptist Campus Ministries at my college.”
Jacey’s hometown musical community forced her to go out of her way to find her place in music. It also led her to Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars to connect with other young musicians.
“My mom found out from Mr. John Colburn that they have a special room at SPBGMA for kids in TBS to jam. Having a community of people that are loving and interested in the same things as you is great. I talked to fellow TBS member Anthony Howell recently about all the opportunities we’ve gotten through this program,” said Jacey.
One of the original members in 2013, Jacey credits TBS for giving her a space to play music and looks forward to playing with others.
“It’s helpful having a community and having a safe space to play,” said Jacey.
As Jacey found her place among other young bluegrass musicians, she also found her footing in music playing in church. Today, she is even involved in leading worship for her church and using her musical talent in a way that lifts others in their faith.
“As I’ve gotten older, I have realized I didn’t want to do music full-time. I never wanted to feel like music is something I’m forced to do. So, I love playing in church,” said Jacey.
Influenced by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Alan Jackson’s fiddle player Ronnie Bowman, and Alison Krauss, Jacey uses her classical background to give her an edge in the slower bluegrass songs.
“It can be a struggle sometimes, but it helps me make bluegrass songs sound prettier in a way.”
While Jacey’s most significant performance was at her high school graduation in front of over a thousand people, she thrives performing at her church—specifically when performing her favorite hymn, “Because He Lives.”
Jacey attends Louisiana State University (LSU) to become a speech therapist while she continues playing music to inspire others. She focuses on school but concentrates on her church’s worship team.
“Getting more involved with the music at my church and having more of a role there is something that I’m very excited about.” She added, “I never want to stop playing. I also want to love playing and keep playing for others that love it. The look on people’s faces when they love your music is something that can’t be replicated. I want to keep doing that always.”