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Jaci Velasquez: 1979—: Vocalist

Christian Entertainment Background

Jacquelyn Davette Velasquez was born on October 15, 1979 in Houston, Texas. She was the youngest in a family that included the four children from her parents' previous marriages. Her mother gave her the nickname "Jaci" (pronounced "Jackie") as a shortened version of her given name. David and Diana Velasquez ran an evangelical ministry, which allowed them to engage their love of music to express their religious beliefs, as they traveled around the country. Earlier, David Velasquez had a successful career in Christian music as part of the Dallas-based group the Galileans. Velasquez's group released 25 albums and earned a Gospel Music Association Dove Award for Best New Artist in 1970, the same award that his daughter would claim in 1997.

With music such a major part of the family's life, it was not surprising that Jaci Velasquez demonstrated her musical abilities from an early age. As her mother recalled in an October 1999 interview with the Dallas Morning News, "I remember she was not two yet and we were in this little church where the nursery was right around the corner from the sanctuary, and the door was open. We were singing 'Our God Reigns,' when all of a sudden, the pastor put his hand to his lips for everyone to be quiet because he could hear her from the nursery. She was singing the chorus, and it was so cute because she even did the little lick in the chorus—'Our God reigns, our God reigns, our God re-e-e-igns.' And everyone was just sitting there listening and their eyes got huge." Throughout her childhood, Velasquez and her mother accompanied her father's performances as back-up singers; by the time she was ten, she had taken over as the lead singer of the Velasquez family trio.

At a Glance . . .

Born Jacquelyn Davette Velasquez on October 15, 1979 in Houston, TX. Religion: Evangelical Christian.

Career: Recording artist: Heavenly Place, (album), 1996; Jaci Velasquez, (album), 1998; Llegar a Ti, (album), 1999; Crystal Clear, (album), 2000; Mi Corazón, (album), 2001; Christmas, (album), 2001; Navidad, (album), 2001; author: A Heavenly Place, 1998.

Awards: Dove Award, New Artist of the Year, 1997; Dove Award, Song of the Year, "On My Knees," 1998; Recording Industry Association of America, Gold Album, Jaci Velasquez, 1999; Dove Award, Female Vocalist of the Year, 1999; Dove Award, Female Vocalist of the Year, 2000; Dove Award, Special Event Album of the Year, Streams, 2000; Dove Award, Spanish-language Album of the Year, Llegar a Ti, 2000; Recording Industry Association of America, platinum album, Llegar a Ti, 2000; Recording Industry Association of America, gold album, Mi Corazón, 2001; Recording Industry Association of America, platinum album, Heavenly Place, 2001; Recording Industry Association of America, gold album, Crystal Clear, 2001.

Addresses:Office—P.O. Box 3568, Brentwood, TN 37024-3568. Record company—Word Records, 25 Music Square West, Nashville, TN 37203. Record company—Sony Discos, 605 Lincoln Road, 7th Floor, Miami Beach, FL 33139. Management—Mike Atkins Management, 300 10th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203.

During her teens Velasquez continued to hone her skills by performing with her family and entering talent contests around Texas. With such a hectic performing and traveling schedule, Velasquez was home-schooled by her mother. Her major break came when the Velasquez family appeared as the opening act for the popular Christian act Point of Grace at a church concert in Columbus, Texas, in 1994. The group's manager, Mike Atkins, was so impressed with Velasquez's singing that he signed on as her manager. After sending a videotape of her performance to Nashville-based Myrrh Records—a division of leading Christian media outlet Word Entertainment—Velasquez secured her first recording contract. She was just 15 years old.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Theodosius I to David Watmough Biography - David Watmough comments:Jaci Velasquez: 1979—: Vocalist Biography - Christian Entertainment Background, Debuted At Age 16, The Latin Market And Continued Success