With a warm vocal tone that navigates infectious melodies with a combination of earnest affection and wry wit in harmony with her most famous counterpart, Paul Heaton, Jacqui Abbott was first known as co-lead singer of the Beautiful South.
A member of the group from 1994 to 2000, she contributed to the U.K. Top Five hits "Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)" and "Perfect 10" before eventually reuniting with Heaton for 2014's What Have We Become?, a collaboration released under their own names. The album reached the Top Three of the album chart in the U.K., leading to further duo albums, including 2020's Manchester Calling, which went all the way to number one.
Born on November 10, 1973, Jacqueline Abbott grew up in St. Helens, Merseyside, England, near Liverpool. As a young adult and amateur singer, a chance meeting with the Beautiful South frontman outside a nightclub led to an invitation for her and her friend to an after-show party. The friend encouraged her to sing, and Heaton was dazzled by her voice. Abbott was working as a supermarket shelf-stacker when, a year-and-a-half later, Heaton contacted her out of the blue to audition for the Beautiful South, who were looking for a replacement for Briana Corrigan. Abbott won the audition and was catapulted to fame.
Beginning with 1994's Miaow, she recorded four albums with the band, touring the world and appearing on some of their biggest hits, including "Everybody's Talkin'," "Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)," "Don't Marry Her," and "Perfect 10." Abbott left the Beautiful South after recording 2000's Painting It Red to care for her young son, who had just been diagnosed with autism. She returned to college and retrained as a teaching assistant, taking a job in her son's school, and disappeared from the limelight for more than ten years.
In the meantime, the Beautiful South dissolved in 2007 and, after a couple of unspectacular solo albums, Heaton got in touch with Abbott once again, inviting her to participate in his "pop oratorio" based around the seven deadly sins. The 8th premiered at the 2011 Manchester International Festival, and a live recording of the show, Paul Heaton Presents the 8th, was released. After the success of The 8th, Heaton and Abbott decided to record a new album together. The resulting effort, What Have We Become?, which saw the duo emulating their melodious Beautiful South-era musical style, was released in 2014 to critical acclaim and commercial success, reaching number three in the U.K. album chart. After touring widely in support of the album, the two returned to the studio to record a follow-up, 2015's Wisdom, Laughter and Lines. The success of their renewed partnership saw them back out on the road culminating in a sold-out homecoming gig to a crowd of 20,000 people in Hull in 2017. That same year, Heaton and Abbott delivered their third record as a duo, Crooked Calypso. Produced by longtime collaborator John Williams (Cocteau Twins,Sinéad O'Connor, Alison Moyet), it climbed to number two on the U.K. album chart. They returned in 2020 with Manchester Calling, a slightly abbreviated 16-track set inspired by the Clash's double-length album London Calling. It debuted at number one in the U.K. ~ John D. Buchanan & Marcy Donelson, Rovi