"I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be with the choices I've made in life," said singer/songwriter Jackie Ladel. Having recently cut two albums, Ladel, a grandmother, has been a rising dark horse in the local music scene. Gaining attention at competitions with stiff competition, the secret of Ladel's success is her grace and desire to transcend.




"I've played guitar ever since I was a kid. I only started writing songs a couple years ago. I was very shy. I wrote my first song in 2006 and I never stopped," said Ladel. "I started to record my first CD. I told my kids and they were like, 'Mom, what are you doing?' but then I started playing my songs for them and now they love it. I have one, 'Moving on' and it's become my grandson's favorite song."




In fact, when Ladel started recording, she was so nervous of the prospect that she actually chose not to tell her family until she was done. But once she had the fruits of her labors, she began to feel empowered. "It was very exciting. It was scary, when I got the first copy of my album," said Ladel. "I just sat in my car and listened to it. Tears came. These were songs I wrote! It was an awesome feeling &

to experience something that I created."




Ladel sees much of her growing strength as a byproduct of her previous pain.




"I had a really rough time in my life," said Ladel. "I feel that I've healed a lot through the music and it's been a good journey. I've taken different times in my life and put them into this. Also I've written songs for other people."




One example is a song called "Butterfly Tears" which Ladel wrote to honor the passing of a friend's daughter. The day she finished it, Ladel learned that her three-month old grandniece had just passed away as well. Ladel performed the song at her funeral, a poignant example of the healing power of her gift.




This healing, for Ladel, first had to begin within.




"For a lot of years, I was in a very brutal relationship. When I came out of it, I was very lost," said Ladel. "Also very depressed, almost all of the time. The kids pretty much took care of me. Now I have this outlet. It seems that since I started writing songs, I was able to come out of the shell I'd been in. I still have moments. I had one a few weeks ago, but I started writing a song right in the middle of it."




Ladel's first performance for an audience was at a women's convention in Seaside in 2006.




"I got two standing ovations and raised lighters," said Ladel. "At first, though, it was scary. I was backstage, shaking. I said a little prayer and walked out on stage. Then I felt I had arrived. I felt more at ease then than in most times in my life and I felt that, at that time, I could do something I was really good at."




For Ladel, insecurity has been a long term stumbling block. In spite of broad success, before each performance she still feels pangs of anxiety before garnering enough gusto to get out and perform, slipping into her euphoria.




"Once I walk on the stage, it's all good. Just doing it, that's been the biggest thing for me &

that and walking through my fears in general," said Ladel. "I feel in the last couple of years, I have grown and blossomed. Playing the guitar, period, is very soothing."




Ladel seems to feel that, if she can do, everyone should.




"Face your fears. I've heard it said that, 'if you have fear, you have no faith.' "&

166;but to me, courage comes from walking through that fear."




Ladel is hard at work on a follow-up album, as well as attending various SOSA events and performing at the upcoming Prospect bluegrass festival, the weekend of July 12th. For information see Ladel's Web site, jackieladel.com or e-mail jackieladel@charter.net.