Best known for her powerful vocals on the timeless Keith Sweat duet "Make It Last Forever", Jacci McGhee has also provided vocal assistance on Salt-N-Pepa's chart-topping and Platinum selling hit "Expression". Immediately afterwards, she was signed to MCA and released her self-titled debut album featuring the top 10 R&B single, "It Hurts Me". With corporate shake-ups, she got lost in the fray, but bounced back as the successor to Sandra St. Victor, taking over as lead vocalist for urban alternative band The Family Stand on their 'Connected' album. Following the dissolution of the band, she steered her vocal talents to opportunities singing jingles for ad campaigns while raising a family. She released a single and video for "If This World Were Mine" (2018) and "Riches of the World" (2022).
Check out Jacci's latest "Time And Time" available on all digital and streaming platforms.
TERRANCE: First, congratulations on the release of your new single "Time and Time". Give us some details about the song.
JACCI MCGHEE: Thank you. So, "Time and Time" is not ol' skool music but classic music that I had in the vault. I pulled it out, cleaned it up and remastered it. I'm not scared of our era of music which is New Jack Swing, Hip Hop and classic R&B. Let's enjoy great music that touches our souls. Not sexual, but life's ups and downs to get to the real love that the most high have for us.
TERRANCE: Where are you from originally and when did you start singing?
JACCI MCGHEE: I'm originally from New York. I've lived in the South as well. I started singing when I was about three. But I didn't really push, push, push to sing until I was like fourteen. That's when I started writing songs and wanting to be in a band. So, I was in my first band at fourteen and my mother used to pick up me and my girlfriend that sung with us from the gigs. They were gigs from around town like Spring Fling gigs and stuff like that. It wasn't anything like a real gig in a club.
TERRANCE: Who were your favorite artists growing up?
JACCI MCGHEE: My favorites growing up were Phyllis Hyman, Jean Carne, Tina Turner and Chaka Khan. Everybody had tone, could perform well and that was my thing. It was the tone in their voices. I loved that rich tone. I listened to them all the time because that's what my mother played. Al Green too and I ended up singing on one of his records. I never thought I would meet Chaka and work with her or I'm doing a tribute to Chaka at an ASCAP Awards show. You just never know you're going to do these things.
TERRANCE: How did you get discovered and signed in the music industry?
JACCI MCGHEE: So, my brother-in-law was in the group Change with Luther Vandross and not only that, he was also playing for Mtume and for Atlantic Starr. I was about fourteen or fifteen at the time when I started coming back up to New York for the Summers with my sister. I started going to the shows with Mtume and New Edition, because he played for New Edition as well. At that time I started seeing Johnny Kemp, Alyson Williams and all of them performing locally, because everybody was still local. New York was a big scene to perform regardless of who you were. When I was about seventeen, going on eighteen I moved back to New York because I had Scholarships for music, but I didn't want to take them, so I was like, nope I wanted to take my chance at singing because I knew I had a little way in the door, some kind of way. I knew somebody. And from that time, it was like, you gotta do what you can do. So, I started doing shows around town with my brother-in-law with his band and I started working with Johnny Kemp. So, Uncle Johnny, most high, rest in peace, he started working with me and helping me with my vocals and I had a vocal trainer that was a trumpet player and his name was Mark Ledford. Mark was a bad boy. He was ridiculous. He started helping me with my voice and how to learn to sing in my chest voice and that "Make It Last Forever" voice. Before that I was singing in my falsetto. So, they groomed me into getting me together to be what I did become and ended up becoming.
TERRANCE: How did "Make It Last Forever" with Keith Sweat come about?
JACCI MCGHEE: When I was nineteen after doing the little club scenes and stuff, I was filling in for someone in a band and a friend of mine that's now my father-in-law, he had this group called Jamilah. I knew they were all battling against other bands. He was like, I want you to meet somebody and he brought Keith down to a gig that I was at. But, before that happened I met Teddy Riley through a friend of mine named Clurel who used to be in a group with Teddy called Kids At Work. Teddy and I put a band together and the two lead singers for the band were me and Omar Chandler that sung "Joy and Pain" with Rob Base. So, we had our band and we did the New York circuit and we went our separate ways. When we went our separate ways, I was still singing in the clubs and stuff and I had a regular job, but I was always into entertainment in some type of way rather it was magazines, fashion, whatever... it was something. So, back to when I met Keith, he wanted me to come to the studio because he liked my tone and my voice. He kept calling me and calling me, so one day I said, you know what? Let me just go to the studio. When I got there, Teddy Riley was there and I was like, what you doing here? And he was like, what you doing here? So I said, well I'm coming to check it out. I said, are you working on a record? And he said, yeah. So I said, Good! Because you know you're more comfortable when you know somebody. I felt comfortable working with Keith after that because I already knew Teddy. So, we ended up doing "Don't Stop Your Love" first and I think we worked on "I Want Her" and then it went to "Make It Last Forever". But they had another girl Vivian Sessoms at the studio who is a good friend and a great singer. They were gonna try and see who that duet was gonna be for. Keith's manager at the time Vincent Davis who was also my manager for a little while, while we were on the road was like, I want Jacci to try it first. Teddy was like, yeah I kinda want Jacci to do it too. But, Vivian Sessoms is one of the baddest singers that I do know and I hated that it had to be a thing between us, but we've always had love for each other. She used to sing with Keith Sweat too, back in the day in their band as well, so we all kinda came from the same circle. But I was all over that first Keith Sweat album. I also sung background on "Right and a Wrong Way". On the second album I did "I Knew That You Were Cheatin'" and a lot of people don't know that's me as well. Going back to the first album, I didn't think "Make It Last Forever" was going to do anything and I hated the song. Then Bam... it blows up while we're on the road. Everything just started blowing up. We went from clubs to theaters to arenas.
TERRANCE: You mentioned Tina Turner earlier who we just lost. What was your experience with her?
JACCI MCGHEE: Oh my Gosh. First of all, I'm a huge Tina fan and always have been. I was at one of her shows and Chuckii Booker filled in as her MD when her piano player passed away. She came out performing "Private Dancer" and I almost lost my swag. Her presence was sexy without even trying and because of her voice, she encouraged me to want to sing harder and perform harder.
Jacci McGhee's self-titled 1992 debut album including bonus remixes has been re-released and remastered on digital platforms for the first-time ever via UMG.
Follow Jacci McGhee:
Facebook & Instagram: @jaccimcghee