In singer-songwriter Jackie Castro’s family, music is a staple of life. Her older brothers, Jason and Michael Castro, have both competed in American Idol — Jason placed fourth in Season 7 and Michael was a Season 8 contestant. Jackie’s father, as well as his eight siblings, all play guitar and sing. Jackie plays a little guitar, piano and ukulele, and each of her original songs and covers on her YouTube channel boasts thousands of views. “There is always music in my house,” Jackie says. Story by Selah Maya Zighelboim Photos by Gina Carra Although music has always been a part of her life, Jackie Castro did not get serious about it until the age of 12, when Jason began to pursue it actively. Jason played small shows in Dallas, and Jackie would sometimes perform alongside, singing her favorite Taylor Swift song at the moment or harmonizing with Jason. Around the same time, she also started writing songs. Jackie completed her first original song, “Western Sky,” her freshman year of high school. When Jason went to Los Angeles to record his debut album, Jackie used this an opportunity to go to L.A. herself. She wanted to see if music was something she could see herself pursuing professionally. After a year of making connections in the music industry and attending online classes, she decided she would rather have a traditional high school experience instead. She moved back to Texas to complete her high school education in a conventional setting and focus on her YouTube channel, which is now at more than 10,000 followers.
When her brother Michael signed with a company called Fullscreen, Jackie decided to get involved with it, as well. Now sponsored by the company, Jackie uploads two covers a month to YouTube under the direction of Fullscreen, and the videos’ views range from the thousands to the hundred-thousands. The company advises to cover top pop songs by popular demand from her listeners, and Jackie takes their suggestion. She does many covers in collaboration with Michael. “He’s such a genius when it comes to social media and how to build a fan base,” Jackie says. “He is always texting me, ‘Hey, you need to put this on your YouTube link, and this is how you’ll get more subscribers.’” Many of the communication studies major’s songs are available on iTunes. According to Jackie, she and Jason are much more of the “feelers” compared to Michael. When writing her songs, Jackie, similar to Jason, likes to draw inspiration from what is going on in her life. Her experiences volunteering in rural Ghana orphanages and widow care programs during the summers of her 10th-, 11th– and 12th-grade years inspired one of her most popular songs on iTunes, “Rescue the Perishing.” “What I learned so much from them was the joy they had when they had nothing, and I had everything compared to them, but they were always happy, always had a servant’s heart, always putting us first,” Jackie says. She wrote her most recent original song, “Our Love Story”, after a breakup, and she released it on Valentine’s Day. “I was trying to put into words everything I was feeling. I was trying to say something to him when we weren’t even talking anymore,” Jackie says. Upon completion, “Our Love Story” turned out exactly how the first-year UT student imagined when she wrote the song. Although she does not play the instrumentation for her songs, she writes the instruments’ parts and has a fairly big say in how she wants it to sound. Jackie tries to give her songs an unique feel, “not too pop and not too indie, but just somewhere in the middle.” As for the future of her music career, Jackie only hopes that people can relate to her through her music and that she can provide a song for listeners to sing along to if they feel like they are in a similar place in their lives. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7FRJZ-zN3Q