Wanda Jackson’s newest album, Encore, a collaboration with fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna, serves as the music legend’s goodbye to the music industry. It is Jackson’s last album, coming just over two years after she announced she will no longer tour. The Queen of Rockabilly performed for audiences for over 60 years before she retired from touring.
Encore was co-produced by Jett, who is featured on the songs “Two Shots,” “Treat Me Like a Lady,” and “That’s What Love Is.” Elle King also contributed to “Two Shots,” while Angaleena Presley and Candi Carpenter contributed to the new recording of “Good Girl Down.” The album also includes a cover of Johnny Tillotson’s “It Keeps Right On a-Hurtin,'” which was released as a single in June.
When Jackson, 83, met Jett, 62, they surprisingly realized they had a lot in common, as they challenged music industry standards at every stage of their careers. At first, the two toyed with making a “Wanda and Friends”-style album, but they decided it was best to make one final album that focuses on Jackson’s talents. “I think [Jett] decided that if we’re going to do this as an all-original album, let’s do it for you. You know? Just you,” Jackson told Billboard in a new interview.
The Jett and Jackson team-up was an idea hatched by Jackson’s late publicist Jon Hensley, who previously arranged her collaborations with Jack White and Justin Townes Earle. Encore was different though, as it focuses mainly on new songs written by Jackson and co-writers. It is the first time the “Mean Mean Man” singer has worked with other writers.
Jackson’s granddaughter, Jordan Simpson helped connect Jackson with Presley, Luke Laird, Will Hoge, and Lori McKenna. “She’ll say, ‘These writers wrote that song. Have you heard it?’ and I’ll say, ‘Well, I don’t know if I have?’” Jackson told Billboard. “And she’ll say, ‘Well it’s been No. 1 for about five weeks!’”
Although Jackson is not credited as a producer on the new record, she was in full creative control. “They allowed me to be in on choosing things,” she said. “I don’t know if other people got to back in the day, but I didn’t. They would send me a sheet of photos from a photoshoot, and I would mark the ones ‘Do not use,’ and that was the end of it — they’d go from there. I felt good that I got to have a little hand in it for once.”
Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 as an Early Influence. She still has not been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She said that would “make me feel like a vital part of this industry.” She has received other awards though, including a 2005 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The singer started touring when she was 18, but health problems in recent years forced her to retire. “It has been a wild ride,” her team announced in March 2019. “Thank you all for all the years of continued fandom and support. This is not the end, just the beginning of a new chapter. Join us as we congratulate the Queen of Rockabilly on over six decades of rip-roaring live performances, priceless stories, and countless shimmies.” Thankfully her fans still have more new music to enjoy thanks to Encore, which is now available.