“A catchy and captivating
song-crafter, a true storyteller”

– NPR

Hi there, I’m Robin! 

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had a natural proclivity towards connecting with people through creativity. At age five I began violin and loved playing on stage in groups. The joyful experience of connecting with others through music touched my life from that moment and set the stage for the work that would guide the rest of my life.

I grew up with a very alternative education that encouraged my enjoyment of creating spaces for people to connect through art. 

First I went to Waldorf School where the individual spirit was nurtured. Then I lived in New Zealand for many years and studied at the Jazz conservatory and lived in a community. I studied at The University of Oregon but graduated from The Evergreen State College where I devised my own programs and produced an arts festival. There, I saw how much people benefited from a space being created in which to belong and express themselves. 

I’ve always had a natural draw towards helping people feel a sense of belonging and connection to their own creativity. When  people feel this, they become happier, more fulfilled and thus able to show up in the world as healthier people. We need this now more than ever! Never doubt the power of art to change the world. In my early 20s I spent 8 years touring the world with two bands, Marchfourth Marching Band and Vagabond Opera. Marchfourth was a group based on radical expression and total liberation of the spirit. It changed my life, and I felt called to share that magic with others.

In my 20s I also trained and helped to launch creative arts empowerment programs for youth, based on the PYE model and Power of Hope programs. Doing this work helped solidify my belief that real change comes from connection and giving ourselves permission to be creative. 

It was a natural progression to co-found a non-profit youth program called Joy Now, Inc inspired by the community-minded creative energy of MarchFourth! I wanted to share that energy with the next generation. Joy Now made a huge difference in so many lives as it wasn’t just about the music; it was about self expression and the transformation for people to find themselves. 

I continued to bridge my passions when I founded the Songwriter Soiree in 2010. This inspiring and supportive community is built upon the idea that again connection is essential for our survival and magic happens when the space is created. The soiree was launched in my living room and has since grown worldwide. We have supported more than 3000 musicians to share their original music through our events and retreats and inspired thousands more. 

I love working with people, and my spirit comes alive in leading groups. For 20+ years I have designed and produced large scale programs, retreats and organizations in the creative sector and facilitated and taught in creative arts camps, retreats and as a professional musician and facilitator. In this work, I have seen the power that art has to help people connect to their own inner power. I have seen the creative risk taking process transform a person or a whole community in truly positive ways. 

As a musician, I also understand what it means to take creative risks. I have toured the world professionally since I was a teenager, from busking on the streets of Europe to headlining at the World Cup.  I played in my own bands, as a solo songwriter, and with many renowned musicians and groups (see list below). Music has always been pivotal in my life for connecting to my own personal power and expression. Now, I want to support others to unlock and unleash their own creative potential.  

My work is rooted in the idea that everyone is creative. And that most of us simply need the space to be seen, heard, and supported for positive transformation to take place.  My approach stems from values of self awareness, radical self expression, community and positive social change.

Qualifications

I hold a B.A in music performance, ethnomusicology and education, as well as a certificate in Jazz Studies. I also received a certification through the PYE-Global Partnership for Youth Empowerment’s Heart of Facilitation Leadership program. And I have had the joy of studying with some of the world’s top music and vocal teachers including Rhiannon, Joe Henderson, Chris Berry and many more.

Musicians I have had the honor of recording, performing or touring with:

  • The Polish Ambassador 
  • Emancipator
  • Amanda Palmer
  • Fat Freddy’s Drop
  • The Decembrists
  • Gregory Alan Isakov 
  • The Everyone Orchestra
  • The Human Experience 
  • Saqi 
  • Reggie Watts 
  • The California Honey Drops
  • Rebirth Brass Band
  • Devotchka
  • Marchfourth!
  • Vagabond Opera

Awards

2007 winner of the International Songwriting Competition

Press and Interviews

“A catchy and captivating song-crafter, a true storyteller.” WBEZ, Chicago

“A multi-instrumentalist behind several collaborations (from Gogol Bordello to the Decembrists), Robin Jackson is one of the hidden gems of the inexhaustible mine of Portland indie-folk.” Raffaello Russo, Rockerilla.

Listen to this 8 minute feature Preview interview on 2017 release of Dark Stars on NPR!

[BEYOND THE QUIRK] “Fans of Robin Jackson’s flashy bands Vagabond Opera and March Fourth Marching Band might be surprised at the straightforward intimacy of his folky debut solo album, Dust Diaries—but it’s definitely a pleasant surprise. His distinctive vocal style, somewhere between Phil Ochs and Rufus Wainwright, manages to be both warm and breezy. Hooky, evocative tracks like “Paper Bird” and “October Rain” reveal a solid singer songwriter with broad appeal.”Brett Campbell, WWeek

The term singer-songwriter is rather simplistic when the artist at hand has mastered six instruments and can play many others. But that is the best way to describe Robin Jackson’s work on his first solo album, even if iTunes calls it “pop.” Serena Markstrom, Register Guard. Read full article

“Dust Diaries is a lovely piece of work, graced with Jackson’s characteristic lyric clarity and architecture of melody. Shifted to the background are the extravagant klezmer and music hall tropes familiar to fans of his Vagabond Opera songs, leaving space for the listener beside spare and sad arrangements produced in collaboration with Chet Lyster of EELS….A renowned creator with a highly distinctive and involved mode of expression lays down his masks and shares with his fans a genuine sigh of release.” – Oregon Music News. Read full article

Read this in-depth and raw interview with nationally acclaimed Eleven Magazine. “Like his first album, Jackson is a storyteller. Dark Stars is full of layered instrumentation to accompany lyrical imagery…”