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To understand Jakki it helps to know where she has come from - - or at least passed through. Jakki was born in Red Lake, Ontario, Canada. Her Latvian grandfather agreed, in exchange for getting his family out of the refugee camps of war-torn Europe, to work in a mine in this northern Ontario town. Here Jakki’s mother met, married, and separated from Jakki’s Icelandic father (Rognvaldson). Her musical family moved once again; this time, to southern Ontario. Her grandmother, who had been a famous classical pianist in Latvia and Germany started Jakki’s musical training at 4 years old. Jakki’s mother earned a Royal Conservatory degree in classical music and was a musician and teacher in her own right, but lived her whole life in the shadow of the horrors she witnessed as a child.
Jakki lives for music. She studied piano & accordion then taught herself guitar and mandolin and embraced the music of the times. By sixteen she was writing her own songs. Jakki’s thirst for knowledge motivated her to experiment in many styles. She became proficient in country, bluegrass, blues, rock and of course, folk. It was in a children’s program known as “Folk Train”, which celebrated the music and songs of Canadian culture, that another writer suggested shortening her name from Rognvaldson to Rogue. The name, with all its nuances, seemed to fit and it stuck.
At the Rainbow Room in Niagara Falls, Jakki met Jim Wood, a young Nova Scotian uniquely committed to “ old time ways”. Jakki joined the flood of hippie back-to-the-landers that immigrated to Nova Scotia in the 1970’s. Jakki and Jimmi became partners, in life and in music, developing a band known as “Little Smoke”- a country/rock group with a repertoire that combined popular songs with their own original music and lyrics. Together they had two albums, numerous Maritime tours, including the Atlantic Folk Festival, and extended radio airplay. Over the years Jakki had the privilege of meeting and performing with music legends such as John Prine, The Mama’s and the Papa’s, Sylvia Tyson, Jose Feliciano and Valdy.
When the personal relationship failed Jakki moved on. With a new man, a “Nova Scotia Cowboy” whose passion was horses not music, and children to raise, she had to struggle to keep her passion and her career alive. Jakki made the transition to solo performer, continuing to make many professional appearances, including one on the Joan Kennedy television show. Like her mother, Jakki teaches music. With a couple of “ex’s” and a couple of children, Jakki still makes Pictou County her home. She is a local celebrity. If Jakki Rogue has grown any roots, it is here.
To say that Jakki, at mid-life, “still sings” is an understatement. Her songs are hauntingly beautiful, her lyrics deeply personal. Her most notable attribute is her voice-an unforgettable timbre with a deep smooth style. She has been compared by reviewers to superstars but the test is simple. Jakki can give audiences goose bumps! The trick to happiness may be to want what you have and not want what you don’t have, but Jakki sings about the state most of us humans find ourselves in-longing for what we have lost or for what we haven’t found yet. Through lost countries, lost lives, lost love, and raising children in an uncertain world, music is always home.