‘I’m nothing unique…. I’m nothing special… I’m just Jaki and I’m still here darlin’!’
After making her singing debut and winning with a clear victory at the school’s Christmas talent contest with Michael Jackson’s Ben, it was only a matter of time before Jaki would sign her first record deal. Following stints with One Night Affair at the age of 17, the SRO Band and then Ferrari, it was when Jaki recorded a session for the jazz funk group, Medium Wave, that she was spotted by a talent scout and signed with EMI in 1983.
It took EMI to channel her image and style into the correct direction, to form the soul seductress she is today. Her single entitled What’s the Name of Your Game? gave Jaki her first TV appearance on the children’s TV programme Crackerjack. Heaven Knows became the title track of her debut album.
Could it Be I’m Falling In Love? marked a significant collaboration in Jaki’s career, and is a song that remains a timeless 80’s classic. Reaching No.5 in the British charts in March ’85, her second and last hit duet entitled Mated again received wide critical acclaim. When Jaki had the opportunity to take centre stage, there were no holds barred. Her powerful voice, positive energy and radiance were injected in every one of her performances and Round and Around became Jaki’s first successful solo hit reaching No.9 in June ’85.
Jaki’s hits have remained fresh, uncomplicated and modern. Set Me Free remains an ageless pop classic after rocketing to No.7 in the British charts in May ’86, an anthem of that era. Breaking Away followed and offered her first location shoot abroad, charting at a respectable No.14 in August ‘86. Step Right Up brought Jaki back to her trademark high energy, up tempo pop hits and gave her yet another Top 20 hit in November ‘86.
Her third album with EMI, From Now On was produced in 1987, coinciding with Jaki achieving a Guinness World Record for being the first black British female solo artist to have 6 consecutive Top 10 / 20 hits, unheard of by a black British female at that time.