As seen in Music News Nashville, PopYouLarity, Top40-Charts, SinCity 247 & EIN News
Written by Jonathan Widran, USA Music Journalist

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia and now based in Los Angeles, USA, singer/songwriter/pianist/producer Jessie Sparks has been racking up honors and chart numbers these last few years, digging into the blues and rocking harder than ever before. Since her contemporary indie album release 'Breathe Easy' in 2007, she returned with a self-titled EP release in 2011 that lead to further critical acclaim. Her consistent raw power has earned Sparks comparisons to everyone from Etta James and Janis Joplin, to Carole King and PJ Harvey.

In 2012, Sparks was a finalist for Best Blues Artist at the Music OZ Awards, the Australian music industry's night of nights (following a finalist nod for Best Pop Artist in 2010). Come the awards finale, Sparks was honored as a Music OZ 'Legend' alongside some of the country's longest-standing artists. In 2011, the soulful songstress garnered a whopping five Independent Music Network Awards nominations taking the win for 'Favorite International Mainstream Artist', followed by four official New Music Weekly Awards nominations. Sparks was also elected by Music Connection Magazine as a 'Hot 100 Live Unsigned Artist', only one of a handful from outside the US. In the same year, the creative Aussie native was nominated at the Hollywood Music In Media Awards for 'Best Blues Artist', which followed her 2008 win for 'Best Adult Contemporary Artist' and nomination for 'Best Female Vocalist', as well as her 2010 nomination for 'Best Adult Contemporary Artist'. Mid 2010, Sparks also took home 'Best Artist' in MusicBizPro's worldwide contest, and received four official nominations by The National Academy Of Recording Arts & Sciences Inc for the 53rd GRAMMY Awards.

To lay down the celebrated original EP, Sparks donned her producer cap late 2010, and returned to LA with an old-school, yet fresh, soul sound. Stemming from a few guest jams in 2008 that flowered into friendship, Sparks was humbled and privileged to record one of her EP tracks 'Calendar Years' with William and Joseph Chambers, two of five brothers from legendary '60s-'70s R&B group The Chambers Brothers, who had number one hits such as 'Time Has Come Today'. Her single 'Calendar Years' has received international radio airplay, with major US chart action during 2011, earning its highest position at #1 on Independent Music Network's Mainstream Top 30 Countdown. She also reached #3 on New Music Weekly's AC40 Indie chart, #9 AC40 Main, #5 Top40 Indie, #14 Top40 Main, and #9 Hot 100. The single's success continued on Friday Morning Quarterback's Top 200 and AC40 Main charts peaking at #28, and further hit the Mediabase/Billboard Top Adds chart (in company with Lady Gaga & Lady Antebellum) debuting at #84.

A deeper affirmation of Sparks' versatile and evolving musical spirit is that her EP track 'Feel The Love' was remixed by Billboard chart-topping duo 'KlubJumpers' (best known for their remixes with P. Diddy, Mariah Carey, Jason Derulo, Pussy Cat Dolls, Black Eyed Peas, Britney Spears, Lil Wayne, Christina Milian, Eminem, Az Yet, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Igleisas, Michael Buble and Gloria Estefan) and released as a dance single.

The lead and rhythm guitarist on 'Jessie Sparks' EP was Louis Metoyer, who has played on various Grammy awarded albums and international tours with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Macy Gray, Taylor Dayne, Belinda Carlisle, Hillary Duff, Toni Childs, Stanley Clarke, Terence Trent D'Arby, New Edition, 4 Non Blondes, Bobby Brown and The Chambers Brothers just to name a few! The drummer Matthew Oloffson and bassist Warlock (who sadly passed away shortly after recording), completed an awesome lineup that enhanced her studio sound, all captured at The Hit Joint located in Silverlake, California.

Sparks' earlier album 'Breathe Easy', made in Melbourne, featured key contributions from her longtime Australian guitarist Mark Donnelly, keys player Nathan Liow and bassist Ken Lim. It was recorded at renowned Sing Sing Studios with the expertise of Matthew Voigt and Ross Cockle. Accompanied by countless media reviews and interviews, the original album has also enjoyed significant international radio airplay since 2007 as well as rotation in hundreds of venues worldwide.

Following a partnership with Luck Media in 2009, Sparks allied with UE3 Promotions and immediately received album music placements on MavTV, FuseTV and RealTV Films. MAC Cosmetics officially signed on soon after to sponsor Sparks, who is an ongoing supporter of their global community outreach programs.

Continuing to gain widespread recognition for her unique sound and awe-inspiring live performances, the indie artist has played everywhere from well-known intimate venues, to major arts festivals and corporate events, including shows at The Queenstown International Music Festival in New Zealand. She has also lent her time and talents to diverse charity organizations. In addition to appearances for American Soldier Network, Breast Cancer Network, Ovarian Cancer Research, Freedom Foundation, Bone Marrow Donor Institute, Youth Challenge Australia, and gigs for elderly and unwell at various Victorian facilities, Sparks has performed to raise funds and awareness for child slavery in Africa, poverty stricken communities in Guatemala, Burma Band-Aid, and Rise Above The Blaze in aid of Australian bushfires. Sparks also performed during the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the largest sporting event ever to be staged in Victoria.

In her mid teens, she lived in Illinois, and traveled to Iowa, Washington and upstate New York receiving various accolades for her performances even then. Upon her return to Australia, she was granted a Vocal Scholarship to the Victorian College Of The Arts to complete her secondary studies, while at the same time co-producing and co-hosting music specials for community based Channel 31 TV and 3MBS Radio.

In 2000, Sparks immersed herself in a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts at Deakin University while recording her debut EP at Joe Camilleri's Woodstock Studios alongside musicians Mark Fitzgibbon, Shayne Ryall and engineer Robin Mai (one single commercially aired on Fox FM). In 2002, a move to Vancouver, Canada lead to recordings at Barrell House Sound and Craft House Studio, amidst gigging for eclectic crowds all over British Columbia. Returning to Australia, in 2003 and 2004, Sparks recorded numerous tracks for various industry folk including prized producer Jhay C, Greg O'Shea and Dorian West. She also laid down two more indie EP's with 'Strange Fruit Jazz Band' and 'The Jessie Sparks Duo' live at Metropolis Studios. In 2005, some of these tracks enjoyed placements on SBS TV series 'Fat Pizza' and 'Swift & Shift Couriers', and Sparks made TV appearances herself on SBS's 'RockWiz' as well as Aussie dramas 'Satisfaction', 'Rush', 'Neighbours' and 'Offspring'.

Hitting California annually for over a decade now, Sparks has shared her sound solo on keys and alongside some of the US industry's most notable guitarists. In addition to Louis Metoyer, she has had the honor of jamming with Riki Hendrix (cousin of Jimi Hendrix and artist in his own right), BluMeadows (brother of Warlock), Leo Nocentelli (from founders of funk music 'The Meters'), Robb Lawrence (author of 'The Les Paul Legacy'), Willie Aaron, Henderson Wickliffe and John Kempt, acoustically lighting up indie hotbeds throughout the state.

One of the greatest inspirations for Sparks remains her 88-year-old grandfather, Thomas Cerbasi, a self-taught master of guitar and piano. Tom always pushed Sparks to complicate chords, and branch away from the modern world's mundane repetition. Throughout her education and wild-life experiences, Jessie Sparks has committed to exploring numerous facets of voice, musicianship and the arts, supporting a current repertoire and live delivery that cannot help but strike a chord with devoted listeners and those who meet her music by chance.


     
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