Sandra Jackson plucked away in her prime –
BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE
Plucked away in the prime of her life through a cruel twist of fate, the power packed voice of Sandra Jackson will resonate no more.
Lead singer of Melbourne’s top band Replay 6 and leader of the band for many decades, Sandra Jackson left this world suddenly after a short battle with lung issues later compounded by the discovery of blockages to her arteries which left the medical staff at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne with no recourse to save her life.
Her sudden passing has sent shockwaves through the music industry in Australia, Sri Lanka and throughout the world of musicians who knew of her fantastic talent and endeared her for it and her ever availability to nurture and promote aspiring artistes.
The overwhelming response of shock and grief expressed at her passing on social media is enough testament to the massive following, love and respect she has generated over the years among music lovers in Australia and many other parts of the world.
The warmth and caring nature she personified is universally acknowledged by the thousands of friends and fans that had the pleasure of getting to know her.
Sandra and husband Esric have been in the forefront of the Melbourne music scene for many decades since migrating to Australia from Sri Lanka where their careers in music began.
Since beginning her career as a singer with a band named the Pioneers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sandra’s exceptional talent and explosive vocals soon had music fans clamoring to watch her perform everywhere the band played in Sri Lanka until she took wing to Australia in 1975. She wed Esric Jackson in 1976 and their partnership in love and their mutual passion for music soon saw them establish themselves in several bands for the past four decades and more gathering thousands of fans along the way.
Mixing their love for music with family life and raising two beautiful daughters was a challenging period for the singing Jackson’s but they carefully negotiated the challenge with great aplomb.
Sandra and Esric have matched it with the best in the music industry during their long stint rubbing shoulders with such wonderful world artistes as Smokey, Dr. Hook, The Village People, Marsha Hines, Ricky May, Jade Hurley and Allison Durban to name a few, most recently sharing the stage with legendary Frank Ifield at Alston Koch’s launch of the movie “According to Matthew”.
Although a star in her own right, Sandra has always acknowledged that she was blessed to share the stage with some of Sri Lanka’s legends of music such as Desmond Kelly, Desmond De Silva, Conrad De Silva, Cliff Foenander, Kamahl, Malcolm De Kauwe, Dalreen Suby, Mignonne Fernando, Noeline Honter, Alston Koch, Arthur Speldewinde and Arden Forster to name a few. Such was her humble disposition.
Esric and Sandra and the band Replay 6 have been featured at some of the best venues in Melbourne, Sydney and even travelled to Sri Lanka for a New Year’s gig in 2012 where they performed at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo alongside Mirage. Their popularity and versatility has seen them perform at most school dances from Sri Lanka and a wide spectrum of other events throughout the years.
What set Sandra Jackson as a standout from the rest was her uncanny ability to perform many genres of music from Rock, to Pop, Raggae, Country and she even gave the Bailas a go. She was indeed the consummate and complete entertainer. Replay 6 will never be the same without both of their well-known frontline singers who have complemented each other over such a long period of time.
Dubbed Sri Lanka’s answer to legendary Tina Turner whose hits she reeled off to near perfection, her rendition of “Simply the best” was so authentic that she was often compared to the great American wonder.
Among the plethora of achievements as a singer/ entertainer was the numerous CD’s she and Esric have recorded and sold with the proceeds mostly going to a worthy charity. They will surely be treasured memories of a fantastic performer taken too soon.
She leaves behind Esric and two devastated daughters Candice, hubby Toufic and Tatum and her husband Richard, and four grandkids she doted on, Mischa, Cruz, Makai and Brooklyn who are in shock at her sudden demise. Incidentally, both Candice and Tatum take after their parents possessing superbly talented voices.
May the stage that she commanded with pride and strode on so majestically lay lightly on her.