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An Interview With Jill King
Blue Diamond Records Recording Artist & Songwriter
By Cindy Beth Gordon
(more articles from this author)
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I recently had the pleasure of talking with recording artist/songwriter Jill King at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville this year. Described as a small town girl with a big voice, Jill grew up in the tiny northern Alabama farming town of Arab - population 6,000. It was there that Jill's love for country music was planted.

Jill's mother, Tobie, lent her hand to Jill's dream by taking her to pageants just about every weekend until she was 11. In 1984, Jill won the title of "Worlds Our Little Miss," the equivalent of Miss America for young girls. These experiences inspired Jill to elongate her musical talents and motivated her to pick up the guitar.

In 1997, Jill landed a position as a songwriter for Gate to Gate Publishing. Since then, she has written over 200 songs, which have sparked considerable interest from various artists. She wrote the title cut to Michael Mason's record, For All It's Worth.

Jill has been appearing at Tootsies Orchid Lounge on lower Broadway in Nashville on Monday nights for over a year. She has also opened shows for T. Graham Brown and Cledus T. Judd. In 2002, Jill signed her record deal with Blue Diamond Records and is in the process of releasing her debut album. With her never say die attitude and her willingness to do almost anything, Jill believes she can continue singing and writing, which will help her achieve her goal of becoming an established artist.

Her first single, "One Mississippi" off her debut CD, Jillbilly, recently hit the charts. Jill is currently doing a radio tour to promote her current CD. For more information on Jill King, contact The Aristomedia Group at PO Box 22765, Nashville TN 37202 (615) 269-7071, or

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Hi Jill. It's great to talk to you. So, you're currently promoting your new CD, Jillbilly? It's a great record.

Jill King Yes. My new CD is coming out to stores on March 18th and is called Jillbilly. The first single is called "One Mississippi." Jess Leary and Craig Wiseman wrote that. I co-write with Jess and she in turn co-wrote this song with Craig Wiseman. I heard it and it seemed like the natural choice because I have a couple of ways that I can personally relate to that song.

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I picked up that "One Mississippi" song, because I did date a preacher for a short period of time when I was back in high school and going into college --- that's kind of the story of the song. We didn't date seriously or anything. It's funny hearing the song that was written around something that was similar to that exact experience. Also, that's how my daddy used to make me go to sleep at night, counting by Mississippi's. If I could ever count to 100, I could stay up. I was bound and determined to stay up and I can't ever remember getting past 20. I like the song cause of that.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] What are some of your other favorite songs on the CD?

Jill King I have favorites for different reasons. One song that I'm very proud to have on my album is "98.6 degrees," the very first cut. It's a Harlan Howard song. He has always been one of my songwriting heroes. He's written so many wonderful songs, from "I Fall to Pieces" to "I Don't Know A Thing About Love."

I had the good fortune of being able to visit his publisher, Harlan Howard Songs. He has an incredible songwriting selection there. There was this one song that I kept listening to and listening to - it was just stuck in my head and I loved it so much. It was "98.6 degree." I looked at the co-writer and it was Matraca Berg, who is one of my favorite contemporaries who writes songs. [She] and Harlan had penned this song together and I was just so excited. It was a great experience to be able to cut that song.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Matraca Berg and Harold Arlen are definitely two of my favorite songwriters. I noticed you wrote three of the songs on this CD on your own.

Jill King Yes, "Down and Out," "3 Months, 2 Weeks and One Day," and the very last song on the album, "Down the Files to Hay," is a song about my granddaddy. His nickname was Hitch, but his real name was William. He settled in the area where I grew up. He went up to Detroit during the Depression and he ended up coming back after that. He helped build the church that I started singing in when I was 3 years old. Although he passed on before I was born, before I came into the world, he had such an effect on the community and the people around there. They spoke so highly of him. He farmed and he worked hard and loved his family. That last song, it's special to me.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] So who are some of your favorite songwriters?

Jill King Matraca Berg, Harlan Howard, I did a song by Leslie Satcher, which I'm really proud of. I really respect her writing. I love Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson and Dolly Parton. Those are my favorite writers of all time.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] And who are some of your favorite artists?

Jill King My favorite artists growing up were Emmy Lou Harris and Dolly Parton. Keith Whitley and George Strait are also my favorites. When I was 8 years old, I was singing Hank Williams Sr. songs and listening to Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette. I have a lot of influences. There are a lot of songs that I really love.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] I noticed from your bio that you started singing at the age of 3. Was there any big break in your career?

Jill King I started singing when I was 3 and wrote my first song when I was 10. It was a gospel song. I started playing guitar when I was 12, so in between those two times I was doing a lot of pageants. The dresses were itchy, but I had a great experience in the pageant system. It taught me about poise and grace and respecting your elders, as well as inward and outward beauty. I really learned a lot about life - how to be a gracious loser and a gracious winner.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Well, Jill, that's about all the time we have for now. It was great talking with you. I really enjoyed listening to Jillbilly. I think you have a lot of talent and I wish you the best of luck with everything.

Jill King Thanks, Cindy.

Jillbilly - This CD sizzles - be sure to check it out!

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