Best known as co-lead vocalist of the Beautiful South during their most successful period, Jacqueline Abbott later reunited, years after the band's dissolution, with its mastermind Paul Heaton for a brace of successful duo albums.
Born on November 10, 1973, Abbott grew up in St. Helens, Merseyside, England, near Liverpool. While a keen amateur singer, she had an entirely unexceptional life until she was plucked from obscurity after a chance meeting with Beautiful South frontman Heaton. She and a friend met him outside a nightclub, and he invited them to an after-show party. The friend encouraged her to sing, and Heaton was dazzled by her voice. A year-and-a-half later, Abbott, then working as a supermarket shelf-stacker, was astonished when, out of the blue, she was contacted again by Heaton, asking her to audition for the Beautiful South, who had recently lost vocalist 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," "Don't Marry Her," and "Perfect 10." Abbott left the band in 2000 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.
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, which premiered at the 2011 Manchester International Festival. 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 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 announced they would be releasing their third record as a duo that summer. Crooked Calypso was produced by longtime collaborator John Williams (Cocteau Twins, Sinéad O'Connor, Alison Moyet), and featured the pair's wry wit and flair for infectious melodies. ~ John D. Buchanan, Rovi