Whirlwind lifestyle pulls teenager from Turangi to London

By Dee Wilson

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STAR IN THE MAKING: Jackson Owens pictured on stage at Turangi's Christmas in the Park concert in December. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
STAR IN THE MAKING: Jackson Owens pictured on stage at Turangi's Christmas in the Park concert in December. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

This year marks another turning point in the music career of Turangi teenager Jackson Owens.

The 18-year-old was catapulted to stardom two years ago after being discovered and signed for new American boy band Far Young by Grammy-winning producer Tim Coons.

The last two years have been a huge learning curve for the teenager who will be based in London this year with fellow band members in the quest to achieve recognition on the world music stage. It's also been something of a roller-coaster ride for Jackson's close-knit family - involving lots of international travel between the United States and Turangi.

Jackson's father Bobby, an accomplished musician in his own right, took time out from the family forestry business in 2014 to accompany his son to Orlando, acting as a guardian figure to the three other boy band members. Last year the entire Owens family - Bobby, mum Sharne, younger brother Chauncey, 16, and sister Georgia, 14, and baby sister Carter who was 2 - joined Jackson and fellow band members at a new base in Hollywood.

Bobby said having the family and the band members - 21-year-old Jack Taylor from Wales, Cincinnati's Eben Frankwitz, 19, and Christian Wossilek, 16, from Alabama - living under one roof worked well for everyone.

"In Orlando the team realised we were pretty family-oriented and we could also see how important it was to keep everyone together."

Although last year was treated as a development year for the band, with less travel and performing than the previous year, the six day a week work schedule remained rigorous.

Mornings were taken up with gym sessions and movement and performance classes with a choreographer, followed by afternoon recording sessions that lasted into the early hours. While Bobby made sure the bandmembers met their work requirements Sharne ran the household and ensured online schooling commitments were met. Bobby said while the boys were exposed to a bit of "glitz and glamour", the reality was a lot of hard work.

"Everyone records at night because it's cooler and there's nothing glamorous about finishing up at the studio at three in the morning."

The family also had to return to New Zealand for a minimum week and a half every two months to comply with their temporary visa requirements, which became exhausting.

They returned to Turangi last October after the band's Orlando record label merged with London-based Global Entertainment.

Jackson spent a month in London with the band meeting the new line-up before returning home for the summer.

He is due to return to London in February and although he is looking forward to it, the teenager said there was still no place like home - particularly when it came to the quality of the drinking water!

In between catching up with friends and doing a bit of hunting he has kept up the practice regime and taken to the stage a couple of times. That has included opening for Stan Walker at Turangi's Christmas in the Park concert, including an impromptu performance with Walker that involved dad Bobby and sister Georgia doing backing vocals.

Bobby's former band Sons of Soul - who Bobby says are "all knocking 40" - reunited to back Jackson when he performed a 45-minute set at Rotorua's New Year's Eve Glo Festival concert.

All of the backing music for Far Young is recorded, and Jackson said singing live with his father's band for the first time was great.

Jackson and Sons of Soul will be getting together again on February 6 for a performance at the Waitangi Day concert in Taupo.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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