Jack Vidgen might be pint-sized but he packs a powerful punch in the singing arena. He’s also a decent kid, giving up some of his time this week to promote Parkinson’s NSW fundraising event ‘Unity Walk & Run’. Antonino Tati chats to Jack about hoping to find a cure for the disease, not being in the music business to solely make the charts, and the legacy of Whitney Houston.
How are things going with you at the moment?
Things are going really good. I’ve been doing gigs and stuff, and finishing off my tour. And I’ve got my new single out Finding You, which I’m really excited about.
You were only 14 when you won Australia’s Got Talent, is that right?
Yeah, I was 14, and I’m 15 now.
Some of the songs you sang on the show were very sentimental and originally written for and sung by people much older than you. Could you say you could relate to the lyrics, then?
Definitely. When artists cover other artists’ songs, they don’t necessarily use the same meaning that the original singer was using. Because I don’t know what they were thinking when they were originally singing it. You’ve got to put it into your own context and have your own state of mind. So that’s what I was doing.
So with an example such as Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing, how would you relate to it, because the passion certainly shows through when you’re delivering the song, but what do you think of when you’re singing it?
I was just singing it the audience, pretty much; to people that like my singing. Whitney was a big inspiration for me and always will be.
What was your reaction when you heard the news that Whitney had passed away?
I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it.
I’m wondering, as the years go by, do you think you’ll get into songwriting to really let out what Jack’s thinking?
Well that’s what I’ve been doing for a few months now. I really love collaborating and I actually just finished working with another artist – she’s a pianist I met a gig – and she’s incredibly talented. Working with a heap of different people and sharing ideas; I like that.
Your debut album with Sony Music, Yes I Am, debuted at number three on the ARIA charts. How did it feel having such sudden success at such an early age?
It was awesome. I was really blessed to get the opportunity to make a record, let alone see it go up the charts. With albums, I don’t expect them to rank in the charts, but then it is all about people who are attracted to the album and it’s nice to know you’re doing something people like.
Did you ever feel you were told what to do too often by record company executives?
Not at all. Sony are really great at taking on my ideas. And they’ve got some ideas of their own. And the team there are awesome.
It was, like, within a year that your second album was released. Did you feel rushed at all?
No, no. It was my idea to come up with the tracks on that album. I really wanted to have something that was uplifting and inspirational. And I’m really happy with the songs that I chose for the album because they’re great to perform live.
The latest album Inspire has so far reached 23 on the charts compared to a chart placing of three for your debut. That doesn’t disappoint you too much?
You can’t let it disappoint you. Whether an album gets to number one, number 10 or number 50, or it doesn’t even make it into the charts, that’s not really a major focus for me. But it is amazing when it does rank high.
Tell us a little about the charity you’re involved with, Parkinson’s NSW.
It’s called ‘Unity Walk & Run’ and it’s a big family day out for people of all ages. It’s got a big four kilometre walk and a four kilometre run; even an eight kilometre run to choose from. And everyone’s running or walking for Parkinson’s. Donating money and time for people with Parkinson’s and their carers.
I believe you can relate to it well; you have someone close to your family with Parkinson’s?
Yes, his name is Bill and he’s like a grand-dad to me. Every time I see him suffering, I feel like I need to do something to help cure it.
Back to the music, what’s on the cards for you for the rest of this year and for early 2013?
Well my new single was just released and I got to sing it on Australia’s Got Talent. I’ve had a haircut which is a big step for me. And I’ve branched out into some different styles of music and I think other people will warm to it. It’s been number one on the Hot 30 on 2DayFM so I’m happy about that. I’m also getting into a little more piano and guitar. I’m not the best at them but I play enough to work out songs on my own. It’s not a main goal of mine to focus on playing an instrument while performing but I guess it would come in handy. If anything, I’d like to get into the mixing side of things; co-producing and all of that kind of stuff.
Inspire is out through Sony Music.
Photography by Harvey House Productions.