A pop singer with a soulful sound and an individualistic spirit, Jax first rose to fame in 2015 when she was a contestant on the musical talent competition American Idol.
Jax was born Jaclyn Cole Miskanic in Atlantic Beach, New York on May 5, 1996. Her mother was a schoolteacher and her father was a firefighter; after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Jax's dad worked at the recovery site, where he sustained lung injuries. In 2005, the Miskanic family moved to East Brunswick, New Jersey, and Jax became involved in school theater, where she learned the basics of singing and performing for an audience. Jax also grew up on a diet of classic rock that poured from the family stereo; her mother would sometimes sing her to sleep with Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," and she became a lifelong Beatles fan. When she was 12, Jax was a member of Jersey Kidz, a band made up of fellow pre-teen rock fans; the group won a battle of the bands that earned them a slot at the 2009 Bamboozle Rock Festival in East Rutherford, New Jersey, headlined by No Doubt and Fall Out Boy. After 7th grade, Jax was homeschooled by her folks; she completed her high school education at 15 and devoted herself to music. She would later receive a scholarship from BMI's John Lennon Songwriting Program, studying in London as part of a course offered by New York University. In January 2015, Jax auditioned to take part in the 14th season of American Idol; her version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" pleased the judges and she advanced to Hollywood. Jax ended up finishing third for the season, making her the most successful American Idol contestant to hail from New Jersey, and a digital EP of her most popular performances from the show was issued in August 2015. In January 2016, a year after she tried out for American Idol, Jax released the single "La La Land," which dealt with her experiences on the show and the downsides of life as a reality TV star. The song was a bold statement and a gutsy launch for her post-Idol career, but after playing a handful of live shows, Jax revealed in August 2016 that she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. (Jax was also diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease, which causes the immune system to attack the thyroid.) Despite her cancer scare, Jax worked hard to maintain her health and keep her career moving forward. In late January 2017, Jax stepped forward with a new EP, a six-song release titled Funny; in an interview, Jax told a reporter the title track was "sarcastic in its own weird way." ~ Mark Deming