Jackie Bristow's singing career began at the tender age of eight, when she took a shine to church hymns at St. Mary's Primary School, inspired by her music teacher Walter Hailes. St. Mary's was Jackie's local school in her hometown of Gore, a small rural community in the lower half of New Zealand's South Island, and home to New Zealand country music's Gold Guitar awards.
ncouraged by their grandmother, piano teacher Molly Scully, Jackie and her younger sister Katrina entered the Gold Guitar awards as children. By the time Jackie was 11, the duo were sweeping up a string of awards in various categories. By the age of 14, the "Bristow Sisters" were gigging regularly throughout the South Island. Around this time, Jackie began to mine her parents' record collection, discovering classic songs from Elvis Presley, Linda Ronstadt and even "Solid Gold Hits"!
Jackie began to write her own songs -- a secret passion that would remain hidden from the world for the next seven years. At 17, Jackie left high school and enrolled in the Invercargill Polytechnic Music School, where she hooked up with local musicians. She spent the next 18 months singing regularly in pop and cover bands all around New Zealand. The professional Bristow had by then immersed herself in the music of Ricki Lee Jones, Bonnie Raitt and Crowded House.
erforming was fun, but Jackie could no longer ignore the desire to write and perform her own material, which had been growing steadily since leaving Invercargill in 1994. Jackie went to Sydney, Australia, where she gradually wrote, recorded and performed her original songs, playing late-night bars to empty rooms, saving pennies and working as a nanny to make ends meet. It was in Sydney that Jackie met her now longtime friend, Mark Punch, who provided Jackie with great perspective and the musical career guidance she had been missing up until then.
ark helped Jackie record her demos and turned her on to inspiring songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Shawn Colvin. Eventually her demo made its way to Australian industry legend and Mushroom Records founder Michael Gudinski. Jackie's career as a singer and original songwriter was truly underway.