Volunteer spotlight: Couple finds harmony in music and supporting cancer patients
Photo credit: Athena Delene Photography
Since they were kids, Jackie and Jason Cowsill have each been drawn to music, so it’s fitting that music is what first brought them together.
“One night, I was playing at the old Jo Federigo’s in Eugene. I was performing a Beatles song and Jackie walked up and said, ‘I want to sing with you’,” Jason recalls.
“Yeah, I basically crashed his show,” Jackie says. “He was singing the John Lennon part and I knew the Paul McCartney part, so I jumped up on stage and told him I wanted to harmonize with him. Once he finally agreed to sing with me, it was kind of magical,” she laughs. “But when the song ended I just thanked him, threw $10 in his tip jar and disappeared. I didn’t even give him my name!”
Jackie and Jason managed to reconnect a few months later, started performing together regularly, and they eventually married in 2010. They now perform as the duo Jackie Jae and Jason Cowsill, singing what they call ‘harmony-driven hits from the past, present and future’: encompassing a wide range of cover songs, from Dean Martin to Adele, as well as their own original songs, which they release under the pseudonym “Troupe Carnivàle,” that fall under the genre of Dark Americana.
Photo credit: Jayme & Russ Photographers
They are part of the Cowsill family’s musical legacy. Jason’s father, Bob, performed alongside his siblings and his mother in the 1960s, as part of the internationally acclaimed band The Cowsills, which was the inspiration for the 1970s television show The Partridge Family.
Jason and Jackie were first introduced to Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF) a couple years ago when Jason joined some of his co-workers as a member of Team Endure, a group that brings together people of all different fitness levels to train for endurance events, while raising money for OCF.
“When people are going through cancer treatment, they often can’t work and their income suffers,” Jackie says. “Cancer affects so many aspects of a person’s life and Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Financial Assistance Program is there to help.”
“Giving back and helping others has always been an important part of what music is all about,” Jason adds. “You don’t have to be famous to support people in your own backyard.”
The couple performs about twice a week at a variety of venues and events, from wineries to wedding receptions. Having both been personally affected by friends and family dealing with cancer, they are passionate about using their music to lend a hand. They’ve performed at several events for Oregon Cancer Foundation, including last year’s Grow Your Mo Community Celebration and Ninkasi’s Pints for a Cause. This year, they will be entertaining attendees at OCF’s National Cancer Survivors Day Celebration on Sunday, June 4 at Lively Park in Springfield.
“When we play music to support Oregon Cancer Foundation, we encourage people to stay longer, and perhaps become a little more invested. Maybe they don’t consciously attribute that to us, but we help create a fun vibe that connects them,” Jason says.
“I feel incredibly blessed to have the gift and ability to make music,” says Jackie. “I get to do it with the person I love most in the world and help enrich the lives of others. I can’t ask for anything more.”