Austin City Limits is proud to spotlight a rising star, Austin singer-songwriter/guitar ace Jackie Venson, in her national television debut as a headliner. The hour also features a vintage performance by soul/gospel legend Mavis Staples from her 2012 showcase, joined by special guest Bonnie Raitt. The installment premieres November 14 at 8pm CT/9pm ET on PBS as part of the iconic series’ Season 46. With live music still on pause, ACL continues to provide viewers a front-row seat to the best in live performance. The series airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings) and full episodes are made available online for a limited time at pbs.org/austincitylimits immediately following the initial broadcast.
With the cancellation of 2020’s SXSW earlier this year at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunity for the audiences to witness many of music’s best and brightest was lost. One of the featured artists poised to perform on multiple stages at this year’s edition was Austin standout Jackie Venson. The breakout blues, rock, R&B & soul singer/guitar virtuoso has earned acclaim in her hometown and beyond for her singular skills. Venson was introduced to national audiences as a handpicked opener for guitar star Gary Clark Jr. in 2019, and has established a rapidly growing fan base as one to watch, recently landing in the Top 10 of Pollstar’s Top 50 Livestreamers, alongside established acts including Luke Combs and Norah Jones. Venson was also the subject of the fourth episode of Pause/Play, a new podcast from Austin public radio station KUTX about musicians during the pandemic. The podcast, which focuses on her ACL taping and also includes executive producer Terry Lickona, can be heard here, and a video preview can be watched here.
An innovative artist who brings passion, emotion and truth to her music, Venson performs highlights from her acclaimed 2020 album Vintage Machine and 2019’s Joy in her ACL debut. Wearing a black leather dress inscribed with 73 names of Black Americans who have died at the hands of police, Venson has become an important voice in raising awareness about racial inequality. She meets the moment with a powerful address: “Black lives matter. Not the hashtag, not the slogan, not the organization, but actual lives. Me, my family, my band. We matter.” She then launches into “Back to Earth,” showcasing her guitar bona fides with blazing fretwork and stunning solos. Venson welcomes “Austin’s Empress of Soul,” vocalist Tameca Jones, to the stage for a scorching slowburn rendition of the blues classic “Texas Flood” putting her own signature sound on her Stratocaster on the Lone Star anthem. With a smile as wide as Texas, Venson closes out the radiant debut with the buoyant rocker “Transcends.”
“Every so often a new ‘sensation’ arises from the fervid Austin music scene, and the moment right now belongs to Jackie Venson,” said Lickona. “There are many words to describe her music, but the one that rings loudest for me is ‘TRUTH.’”
The inspiring hour also features a timely encore performance from living legend Mavis Staples who delivers a clutch of powerful protest songs, including “Freedom Highway,” The Staple Singers’ 1965 classic, about the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till. Staples has been a part of history for more than half a century, at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement to presidential inaugurations. The 2012 appearance marked the iconic singer’s debut on the series, and she captivates with her famous low register vocals and magnetic energy, delivering soulful renditions of contemporary songs, as well as socially conscious anthems from her family band The Staples Singers-era. She is joined by longtime friend and collaborator Bonnie Raitt for a pair of classics, the emotional duet “Losing You” and the gospel standard “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” for a soaring close.
Jackie Venson setlist:
Make Me Feel
Back to Earth
Texas Flood (with Tameca Jones)
Mavis Staples setlist:
Creep Along Moses
Wrote A Song For Everyone
You Are Not Alone
Losing You (with Bonnie Raitt)
Will the Circle Be Unbroken (with Bonnie Raitt)
Season 46 Broadcast Line-up (six new episodes to be announced):
October 3 The Best of John Prine
October 10 Yola
October 17 Stevie Ray Vaughan 30 Years On
October 24 Rufus Wainwright
October 31 ACL Presents: 50 Years of Asleep at the Wheel
November 7 John Legend & The Roots: Wake Up!
November 14 Jackie Venson | Mavis Staples w/Bonnie Raitt
November 21 The Mavericks
Tune-in, log on, and let ACL be a trusted sidekick for entertainment during these challenging days. The complete line-up for the full 13-week season will be announced at a later date. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding live streams, future tapings and episode schedules or by following ACL on Facebook, Twitter, IG and TikTok. Fans can also browse the ACL YouTube channel for exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes videos and full-length artist interviews.
About Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits (ACL) offers viewers unparalleled access to featured acts in an intimate setting that provides a platform for artists to deliver inspired, memorable, full-length performances. Now in its 46th Season, the program is taped live before a concert audience from The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in television history and remains the only TV series to ever be awarded the National Medal of Arts. Since its inception, the groundbreaking music series has become an institution that’s helped secure Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. The historic KLRU Studio 6A, home to 36 years of ACL concerts, has been designated an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark. In 2011, ACL moved to the new venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. ACL received a rare institutional Peabody Award for excellence and outstanding achievement in 2012.
Austin City Limits is produced by Austin PBS, KLRU-TV and funding is provided in part by Dell Technologies, RigUp, the Austin Convention Center Department and Cirrus Logic. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Austin City Limits. Learn more about Austin City Limits, programming and history at acltv.com.