Jackson Honeycutt, said he knew he wanted to perform music ever since he saw his sister, Arlie Honeycutt, the 2012 Miss North Carolina, sing.
He was six years younger than his sister and would watch her succeed as a singer.
“We come from a performing arts background with our parents doing theatre and I got involved in chorus,” Arlie Honeycutt, 22, said. “So from the time he was little, he would always attend performances.”
From a small child who admired his big sister, Jackson has graduated to music artist who released his first album May 26 called “Dog Ears and Twilight Hours.”
“It’s kind of about gaining maturity,” Jackson said. “I really started getting serious about writing it around the time my aunt died. That affected me and I was really thinking about the way that people grieve and the process that people take.”
He said “Dog Ears” comes from the excitement of seeing someone. When someone comes into a house, Jackson notes, the ears on a dog stands up. They get excited. But when they no longer come, the excitement is lost.
“It’s about losing someone and the ears not standing, the person not coming,” Jackson said. “That person going away. That was the idea behind that. And twilight hours is a thoughtful time.”
Jackson, 17, a rising senior at Enloe High School, spent hours at school and at his friend Sam Haw’s house recording the album, which Haw produced.
“I spent 33 hours at (Haw’s) house consecutively just trying to get production done,” Jackson said. “Every two hours we had to take a nature walk.”
Jackson said the album took about seven months to complete, including the writing.
Haw assisted in recording, composing the music and sometimes added a second opinion to the ideas.
“I usually started by having him lay down a chord progression on a guitar and layered in other instruments on top of that,” said Haw, who attends UNC-Greensboro. “I try to hear notes and sounds that don’t exist yet within the space and then go and create them. We would try a lot of different things on each other and go with what we thought worked best.”
Like the album, Jackson has gained maturity from the first time he became a singer until now. He started out writing and singing funny songs and posted them on YouTube.
When he thinks back to the first song he wrote, he laughs nervously.
“Oh man. I think it was called ‘About me,’” Jackson recalled. “It’s probably still (on YouTube). I hope not. I think the most notable part was ‘I guess I’m a hacker because I programmed your mind to love me back. There were a lot of terrible puns. It was an awful song.’”
He’s come a long way. Even his first serious song has changed.
“I think then I was afraid to be honest about stuff because it was like growing as an awkward teenager,” Jackson said. “I didn’t want to say here are my thoughts. Here is what I was thinking about. So I would write in this really strange language.
“Now it’s more like - I can still do that, but I can also be honest with everyone. You should write about what impacts you and what matters to you.”
He now describes his style as indie rock and pop combined. A Canadian radio station that played one of his songs described his style as “nostalgia pop.”
“I don’t know what that is, but I’ll take it,” Jackson said.
Jackson has been nominated for Teen Artist of the Year for the Carolina Music Awards. His video for his song “Sweetheart I’ve Noticed” was also nominated for Youth/Teen Video of the Year.
The album has 10 songs and can be downloaded online for free or purchased on cassette. Whoever wants to listen is his audience, he said.
He chose the cassette because he likes the retro style.
Jackson said he offers the album for free because he just wants people to listen. People can buy the album for support.
“For the most part, people have been very supportive of it and have listened to it,” he said. “It’s kind of cool.”
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How to get the album
Go to jacksonhoneycutt.bandcamp.com. You can download it for free if you click “buy now” and type in 0, he said. You can get one bonus track if you download it.
A cassette is $5. To order go to quintonsfunrecords.bandcamp.com.