This Arizona entertainer comes from a long line of veterans and dedicates “Hail the American Soldier” to their legacy for risking their lives for our safety. He’s cheated death twice, re-learned how to play a smokin’ guitar and manages to balance being a good dad with living his dream.
His high school years were spent in a band singing Marshall Tucker, Skynard, and dabbling with songwriting. By 17, he was approached by an agent and was on the road 50 weeks a year honing his craft and marrying his hillbilly, Appalachian roots with country rock and gospel. His influences are as far flung as Willie Nelson and Haggard to Jackie Wilson, his dad’s favorite artist. His music pursuits would land him a performing slot at Disney’s Pleasure Island resorts fronting a top 40 band. Jadi has taken stages throughout the US, Canada, and even into Alaska opening for Trace Adkins, Clay Walker, Toby Keith, and Collin Raye. More seasoned musicians cynically warned him, “it isn’t as easy as it looks” but, Jadi remained undaunted playing clubs and fairs working the rough joints and “chicken wire” circuit.
Jadi and I spent some time visiting recently about his new single and his music career.
Bev: Jadi thank you for taking time to visit with me today. You have a new single out titled “Hail the American Soldier” that you are doing for the soldiers. Can you tell me a little about choosing the song?
Jadi: A friend of mine brought the song to me and when I heard this song I was moved and it simply had that “WOW” factor you want to feel when you record a song; for me it is a personal song that hit home with me as my served in the Army and was on Omaha Beach in 1944. He was a 17 year old kid and by the time he was eighteen he had experienced tragedy and triumphs. By the time he came home ate age nineteen, he had two purple hearts, 3 silver stars, a bronze star and a distinguished service medal. He was a good model in life and a patriot; true sense to the word and also an influence on me as far as appreciating what soldiers and their families do and how much the country meant to them.
Bev: Do you have any other friends or family members in the armed services?
Jadi: I do have a lot of family currently serving the Army, Air Force, Marine and Navy. My younger brother went for his 15th trip to Afghanistan and just landed over their last week for his 16th trip. It's amazing, because he could get out any time but he is committed to the principle. I admire that so much. I see these 45 year old men and women that have been in it for most of their lives. I have another friend that is in her early 50's and she has served thirteen years in the Air Force and two years ago she reenlisted. Those are the kind of people I am singing this song for.
Bev: Have you ever thought of enlisting yourself?
Jadi: I am unable to serve due to a bad car wreck that messed up my spine and shoulder. I actually tried to sign up and they just laughed.*Laughing*
Bev: When you perform the song in front of a live audience, have you had any memorable moments from those who come up after during the meet and greet?
Jadi: A gentleman came up to me and I thought he was kind of mad at me when he first approached me. He said, “Yeah I just got back from over there and I want you to know that I really appreciate you singing that song.” I was still a little intimidated due to his size and appearance so I simply said, “Thank you sir very much.” He took my arm and slapped a bracelet on it, a metal band bracelet. I looked down at my arm and then looked up at the gentleman and he has a giant tear rolling down his cheek, this rough tough individual said, "This is from my staff sergeant, his name was Charles Brownie, he died in my arms and this was his identification bracelet. I have had it for two years.”, and then he said “It is yours now, you take care of it.” My knees got weak. I get emotional thinking about it right now, but that is one that really stands out.
Bev: I know you are promoting the single now, when is the CD project slated for release?
Jadi: The album is to come out in stores in July. This CD is really special and I hope the fans and listeners appreciate the songs chosen for it as much as I do.
Bev: Are there any other patriotic songs on the album?
Jadi: Their might be one other song on there that I wrote my brothers point of view, I tried to put myself in his shoes based on the times he has been over there. But I did not want to make all the songs patriotic. This particular song is meant the world to me; it is a great opportunity to make these people hear this story and send a Thank you card to let them know that inside of what they see on some of the news channels, there are a lot of people that appreciate them and love them.
Bev: As an artist you travel quite a bit, and I know you also have a family with young children, what is your secret to finding the balance?
Jadi: I have a great family who is very understanding of what I do and the kids have grown up around it. They have always known that daddy is going to go out of town and be gone for days. My wife is a tremendous woman that truly is understanding, not that we don't disagree about certain things and not saying it is not hard on her at times, she has been with me thru the good times and bad times for 15 years. She knew what she was getting into and she accepted it and without her help and without her being fully involved, I couldn't do it. She makes tremendous sacrifices to keep everything together.
Bev: Do the kids come out with you on the road?
Jadi: They come out occasionally and have the opportunity to see what daddy does and mom gets a little vacation so that helps. My family is very understanding and are my biggest fans because they support me whole heartedly.
Bev: Do you see them following your footsteps at all?
Jadi: I don't encourage it but I do encourage music and singing. I grew up singing in bars; starting when I was just thirteen and having been thru the circuit, I don't want my daughters to do that. My oldest daughter plays piano and saxophone right now and is really good. My middle daughter is a piano player and a great little singer. I am trying to push them into the right direction; not to do it like daddy did, but to get an education first.
Bev: How do you feel about the other artists that start out young? You said you paid your dues and some of them today are not because they are getting thrown into the spotlight right out of some of the reality shows and contests.
Jadi: I think it is fantastic; the only thing that concerns me is that I hope that their parents, management and care takers have their best interest at heart and really watch out for them. For example you have a special young person like Taylor Swift who is so incredibly talented; I just hope the people around her are nurturing her in every aspect and letting her be a young, letting her hair down and being a kid and keeping and eye on her. I hope they are protecting her from the ugliness that can come with the territory. If you hang around in tough places, there will be people that are going to try influence them one way or the other. Like I said, I encourage it as long as their caretakers are looking after their best interest.
Bev: You have opened shows and played with some big hit makers and artists during your career, has there been one show that really blew you away or that you walked away and just said I can't believe I did that.
Jadi: I had the opportunity to play with Toby Keith when he was relatively successful, but he wasn't a huge name like he is now. I remember saying this guy is going to be as big as Elvis, this man is hitting all the right nerves, and he knows that he blows the audience away. I also got the opportunity to do a small club show with about 300 people with Keith Urban right when his first album was coming out; those two guys were like “WOW”.
Bev: Do you do duets at all?
Jadi: I really have not had the opportunity to do any duets yet, but I am very open to the idea if it presents itself.
Bev: If you could choose someone to do one with who would you choose?
Jadi: Carrie Underwood in a heartbeat.
Bev: Do you already have a song picked out?
Jadi: Yeah, one that I wrote. It's on the new album and I think I could die a happy man if Carrie Underwood were to sing this song. I think she is the best vocalist alive. There is nobody that can touch her as far as putting music on a radio. She is a classic.
Bev: As far as touring and promoting the new album, do you have anything coming up with special sponsorships or anything original and out of the box to get the word out?
Jadi: We are working on that right now. My focus has been to get this record out and I have spent so much time in the studio this last month, that has really all I have been doing. We just finished the recording last week.
Bev: Do you have a favorite on the album, anything that is personal or anything that is close to your heart?
Jadi: There are a couple of them; one of the songs is called “Not in Love by Morning” a ballad. I do not want to say too much about it because I want people to make their own judgments on it, but I really like it. It is one of my best lyrically and I love the story. Of course “American Soldier” is another one of my favorites. I can't take credit for writing that one, but it is such a tremendous song. We have a fun song called “Working Men Saturday Night” that I hope people like too; it’s a really fun song.
Bev: Are you using all the social media sights, such as Facebook and twitter?
Jadi: Yes, I am. I enjoy the interaction and feedback from friends and fans.
Bev: Will you be doing a CD release party or showcase in Nashville soon?
Jadi: I am talking about doing a showcase in July in Nashville. We are negotiating things right now and more likely will be in Nashville during CMA Festival as well.
Bev: We mentioned the live shows, but what has been the reaction at radio to your current song?
Jadi: I really appreciate what radio has done for this new song and especially with me being an unknown artist. The radio response that we have had and for the short time it has been out there already has been amazing. The support that we have had from the fans and the military folks that have accepted this song and made it their own, I can't say Thank You enough and God Bless them.
Bev: Have you done anything like USO tours or similar events like?
Jadi: I am working on that right now, actually. I am scheduled to do some performances at different military bases around the country, nothing as far as USO tours yet, but the military bases throughout the US this summer and fall of 2010.
Bev: Jadi, I look forward to visiting with you again soon and wish you much success with this and the CD.
Jadi: Thank you too and I appreciate you taking time to visit with me as well.
For more information on Jadi Norris visit www.myspace.com/jadinorris
Transcribed by Corinne Gall-Yockey