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‘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.

In the same year, Michael McDonald came into Jaki’s life looking for a female singer to accompany him on the track On My Own for his UK Tour. Michael, who has worked with some of the most influential names in showbiz, personally chose Jaki over a stream of UK female vocalists. After hearing her voice, he was quoted as saying that Jaki was ‘one of the best singers Britain has ever produced’. A deep friendship and mutual respect grew between the two artists and to this day, Jaki continues to be a special guest on the UK legs of Michael’s tours.

Towards the end of the 80’s, sales and figures provided by Billboard magazine had established Jaki as Britain’s most successful black female artist ever. Not surprisingly, Jaki’s success was not limited to the shores of the United Kingdom. People of every culture and language from every corner of the globe loved her natural vocal perfection. The distinct, powerful delivery, coupled with her warm and compassionate ease seemed to melt the barriers of language, colour and creed. Denmark, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Africa – places she had only ever dreamed of visiting – loved her and her fan base grew worldwide.

This marked a turning point and in Japan, Jaki was particularly successful. Her first album Real Life sold more than 800,000 copies in less than four weeks. Furthermore, tickets for her Japanese tour sold out in 20 minutes flat, outselling some of her well known US contemporaries. In true down to earth style, her reaction was simply, ‘For real?’. Real Life gave Jaki many international hit singles and elevated her status further. Ain’t Nobody did exceptionally well in the United States reaching No.1 in the Billboard dance charts for 5 weeks, with its impressive video directed by Antoine Fuqua, also rocketing to the Top 5 in the American Black Entertainment Charts (BET).

Ain’t Nobody, Absolute E-Sensual, Real Life and You Can Count On Me are outstanding tracks which were released in 1994. Jaki had effortlessly slipped into the 90’s era of music and as a result, won over a new legion of eager fans worldwide. Sales of Ain’t Nobody reached gold in Australia, Japan and the USA and her next album Best Shots released only in Japan, responded quickly to her popularity with a greatest hits album. Michael McDonald also contributed album tracks specifically for Jaki, with Through Your Eyes. When Jaki appeared on a German TV show with Boy George, he summed her up completely saying ‘You’ll never meet a harder working artist than Jaki Graham’.

In ‘95, Jaki released her next Japanese CD entitled Rhythm of Life, followed by My Life in ‘96 and Hold On in ‘98. Sweden also took a great interest in her by releasing singles unique only to that country with The Christmas Song and Seek and You Will Find, which are now rare and highly sought after by collectors. During this period, Motown signed the album Kiss the Sky, which featured Jaki on lead and backing vocals, and has since gone on to sell in excess of a million copies worldwide, meaning the girl from Handsworth was now officially Motown!

Following years of performing live across the world, 2009 marked a hectic year for Jaki. After being approached by the BBC Big Band to work with them as part of their BBC Radio 2 special, it finally gave Jaki the opportunity to sing Jazz! Following her Gershwin & Soul concert in October 2009, only two weeks after it was aired, the BBC called her back for the second concert and March 12th 2010 saw Jaki again performing with the BBC Big Band, this time for an evening of Duke Ellington classics. March also saw the international release of Jaki’s 3 Japanese albums. Until this point Real Life, Rhythm of Life and My Life had only been available in limited territories which had meant that many fans have never heard some of her finest recordings. 2010 continued to be a hive of activity as Cherry Pop records released a special edition CD of Jaki’s 1986 album Breaking Away. In addition to the original 12 track album, 5 bonus tracks were added, 3 of which were exclusive to this release. The summer of 2010 also saw Jaki accompany Michael McDonald and Al Green on their UK Legends Arena Tour which included Birmingham LG, Manchester MEN and London’s O2 Arena.

Jaki was then invited to join Sir Cliff Richard on his Soulicious Arena Tour in October 2011, as his only British Special Guest alongside soul legends James Ingram, Percy Sledge, Freda Payne, Lamont Dozier and Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr of Fifth Dimension, which is available on DVD, having been filmed across 2 nights at London’s O2 Arena.

Absolute Essential – The Very Best of Jaki Graham, is a two disc compilation album, containing 28 of her finest recordings to date and was the first official Greatest Hits album to be released soon after.

Jaki was finally back in the studio in 2012 to record her first studio album in over 10 years. For Sentimental Reasons was released in October, giving Jaki the chance to pay homage to some of the classics she was herself brought up listening to, only this time with a more contemporary Jazz twist. This also tied in with Jaki being honoured on Birmingham’s Walk Of Stars joining the likes of Julie Walters, Ozzy Osbourne, Jasper Carrott, Bev Bevan and more.

Following her intimate For Sentimental Reasons UK tour in 2013, Jaki received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of Wolverhampton in recognition of her Outstanding International Contribution to R&B, Soul and Dance.

Since then, inbetween busy festival seasons over the last couple of years, Jaki has been back in the studio and shows why she firmly maintains her position as Britain’s most revered queen of soul, with the release of her long awaited new studio album When a Woman Loves. Mastered at Abbey Road Studios, When a Woman Loves is the beautiful result of Jaki’s personal and at times challenging life journey, showing her resilience and strength of character. With song contributions from Michael McDonald, Eric Benet and the late Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, the album is an exciting celebration of Jaki’s 40+ years in the business. Along with her repertoire of unforgettable as well as timeless classics, one thing is clear, her voice and music will continue to stand the test of time. Also, joining forces with Paul Wayne Gregory chocolates, a world leading multi-award winning Artisan chocolatier (, we will see her own exclusive ‘Heaven Knows Indulgence Collection’ launched alongside the album, ahead of her forthcoming Autobiography Heaven Knows.

Her life represents so much to so many different people. Her story is an inspiration and no matter where you’re from or what struggles you may have encountered, it is for this reason that Jaki has amassed a fan base from all walks of life. Her ability to become the conqueror rather than the victim makes her an attractive role model. Her music embodies people with a positive energy and inner strength and her voice has united and embraced nations and cultures worldwide. Of all people, Jaki would be the one who would least see these special gifts in herself. In her own words…. ‘I’m nothing unique…. I’m nothing special… I’m just Jaki and I’m still here darlin’!’

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