Tikyra Jackson Throws Down the Gauntlet with Powerful Debut Single “No More Fear”
With the release of the incendiary new single “No More Fear,” Tikyra Jackson, the ferocious young drummer and backing vocalist for 2020 Grammy nominees Southern Avenue, gives voice to a generation on the cusp of revolution. Written after the killing of George Floyd and the protests against racism that consumed the country afterward, the track is Tikyra’s first solo effort and speaks her truth in volumes through raw funk and soul.
Tikyra plays every instrument and sings on the tune, which was produced by Grammy-nominee Kurt “KC” Clayton and mixed by Kevin Houston (North Mississippi Allstars, Samantha Fish). Released via Purple Kactus Records (Symphonic Distribution) on August 14, “No More Fear” is a triumph of righteous anger, a call to action set to a danceable beat, and the next step in Tikyra’s spiritual and musical evolution.
As millions were marching in the streets to protest racial injustice and police brutality, a pandemic was raging, and Tikyra was mourning the deaths of several family members. Emotionally exhausted, she turned to the healing power of music and poured her heart into what would become “No More Fear.”
“To say we’re living in a crazy time is an understatement,” Tikyra said in a statement announcing the song’s release. “Living in a global pandemic and experiencing the murders of our fellow human beings, unjustly killed for simply being Black, it’s all soul-jarring. ‘No More Fear’ is a reflection of today’s time and the social justice movement. I’m speaking my truth through music in the hopes more will listen and make a change.”
The sixth of seven children, Tikyra, 25, was born to Southern ministers and raised in the traditions of the church in Memphis, TN, a city steeped in blues, soul, and rock & roll history. Growing up in the church, Tikyra and her siblings led a sheltered existence, knowing nothing of secular music until she was introduced to it late in her adolescence. Even though she played drums in her high school’s marching and pep bands, modern music was not allowed in the Jackson household. But the music of Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, and, most profoundly, Beyoncé, found its way into her heart and psyche anyway. Tikyra got her hands on a 2008 performance video of Beyoncé backed by her all-female band, SUGA MAMA, which featured legendary power hitter Nikki Glaspie on drums.
“Honestly, it started with Nikki Glaspie,” she said. “She played with Beyoncé in 2008. My older siblings went to a Beyoncé concert, bought the DVD, and ever since I watched it, I knew this was what I wanted to do – perform and play drums.”
From that point forward, music was the driving force for Tikyra that led her to the University of Memphis in 2013 and gigs with a number of well-known Memphis musicians. One of the people she played with was award-winning, Israeli blues guitarist Ori Naftaly. Along with her sister, the explosive vocalist Tierinii Jackson, the three formed blues/rock/soul powerhouse quintet Southern Avenue in 2015. The band’s current incarnation also includes keyboardist Jeremy Powell and bassist Evan Sarver. For next the next five years, Southern Avenue maintained a grueling touring schedule and a relentless work ethic that breaks weaker bands winning accolades and new fans with their no-holds-barred style of “Memphis Music.”
Signed by Stax Records (the first Memphis band signed to Stax in over 40 years) the group’s hard work paid off in 2019 when their album Keep On was nominated for the “Best Contemporary Blues Album” Grammy. All the while, Southern Avenue offered Tikyra a nurturing, familial safe space where she could thrive as a musician, songwriter and activist.
With encouragement from her bandmates, Tikyra has moved beyond percussion to become a talented multi-instrumentalist speaking her truth on “No More Fear,” weaving drums, bass, keys, guitar and vocals into a melange of uninhibited, minimalist beats. A rallying cry infused with hope, the tune’s lyrics were formed in her soul – one brimming with so much more to share. Fans can expect a second single from Tikyra in the near future along with the promise to use her voice to advance positivity and the greater good.
“I think in general I would like to believe that the world can be saved through love,” she said. “But obviously it’s not always about daisies and roses. Sometimes you have to speak the tone that you feel. Sometimes you have to grind or get a couple of scars. That’s what ‘No More Fear’ is about. The most you can do is follow your heart and follow your purpose. That’s what we need in this world and hopefully, that will make a change in society for the better.”
“No More Fear” is out now and available across all digital platforms. Listen to the tune below and follow Tikyra on Instagram.