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Singer/songwriter Jackie Tice discovered her self-identity through folk songs and Native American spirituality. It was her song "The Marijo Tonight," about life at an Irish bar in Pennsylvania, ironically enough, that placed her on the singer/songwriter map when she won the prestigious New Folk Award from the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas in 1996.
Tice didn't begin her music career with visions of becoming an award-winning folksinger. She started her musical studies at age 12 with classical piano in Swedeland, PA. She switched to organ, playing Bach chorales at church until age 14. She also sang in church choirs. She took up guitar at age 13 at school. After a friend loaned her an acoustic guitar at age 17, she wrote her first song, "Finding Myself," which showed her budding interest in grappling with issues of self-identity. Her first professional gig came at 19, performing cover songs at the Fruitville Hotel in Pottstown, PA. She began performing at open mic nights in Pennsylvania with her friend, singer/songwriter John Gorka, whom she met in Bethlehem, PA, at Godfrey Daniels.
Tice moved to Washington, D.C., where she heard Mary Chapin Carpenter at Food for Thought, in 1982. Carpenter showed her D.C.'s club circuit and Tice began to perform her songs for the first time outside Pennsylvania. She moved back to Pennsylvania in 1986 and studied social work at community colleges. She started working with battered women. Around the time of the birth of her first child in 1989, she began performing her own songs at clubs in State College, PA.
By 1992-1993, Tice had won a folk award at the Folk Factory in Philadelphia. She appeared on the 1993 compilation CD Philly Fast Folk on Fast Folk/Smithsonian Folkways. She released her debut CD, Grateful Heart, (produced by Bill Collar) under her maiden name Jackie Koresko in 1993. Tice's second CD, Blue Coyote (Saja Music, 1997), whose title came from Christopher Moore's novel Coyote Blue, was influenced by Joni Mitchell's CD Hejira. The disc, which featured her 1995 award-winning song "The Marijo Tonight," came after Tice won the prestigious New Folk Award for Emerging Songwriters at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas in 1996. The judges were Tim Bays, Sara Hickman, and Lucinda Williams. "The Marijo Tonight" was also featured on Christine Lavin's 1999 compilation CD The Stealth Project: Music Under the Radar and on another 1999 compilation CD, The Godfrey Daniels Open Mike Collection. Tice's songs showed a strong sense of character development and a sensibility to specific places based on her personal experiences. For her, the stories of bar life in a small Pennsylvania town embodied the fear of departure and the complacency of staying and the resolve just not to move on in one's life. Several other songs on Blue Coyote, produced by John Pearse, a partner in Breezy Ridge Instruments and John Pearse Strings in Bethlehem, PA, derived from Tice's interest in Native American spirituality.
Tice recorded her third CD, Second Skin, in Nashville in 2001. That same year, she wrote a music score for the documentary film, Dirty Linen, inspired by Joni Mitchell's song, "The Magdalene Laundries." The film and song were based on Greg Clayton's screenplay about orphaned children and unwed mothers mistreated at laundries run by Irish Sisters of Our Lady of Charity. Much of the imagery for Second Skin derived from Tice's interest in painting. Around 1998, she started drawing bones as a way to understand the roots of her self-identity. Second Skin explored finding a balance between shelter and expansion within one's self and within the world. It was essentially about being rooted while at the same time taking risks in life. Through her music, Tice revealed that her complex personality was interconnected and came together in her creative, intellectual, physical, and spiritual interests.