Hanging Out With Jaci V.

Share an afternoon of honest talk with pop singer Jaci Velasquez
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Jaci Velasquez is standing next to her mother at a Fuddruckers restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. As Jaci skims the menu above the counter, she gives her mother a hug and kiss on the cheek. After we've placed our order, Mrs. Velasquez tells us to go ahead and find a seat. "I'll bring your food over when it's ready," she says.

Soon Jaci's mom shows up carrying our cheeseburger baskets and malts. She puts the food on the table and scurries off, looking for ketchup and other hamburger fixings.

As the 18-year-old Christian artist watches her mother walk across the restaurant, she smiles, then says, "You know, my mom is so good to me. She also kind of spoils me! … She really is the best friend I have."

It's no wonder Jaci's very close to bothof her parents. When she was 10, the Velasquez family sold their home in Houston, packed up the family car, and began a traveling music ministry across the Southwest. (The bilingual Velasquez family sang Christian music in both English- and Spanish-speaking churches.)

Up until three years ago, Jaci was homeschooled in that car, and, at times, she even spent the night sleeping in the back seat. It was "home sweet home" for the three of them.

"There were times we didn't have much money," says Jaci. "So we couldn't afford a hotel."

But that all changed when Jaci's amazing voice was discovered by the folks at Myrrh records. Soon Jaci and her family moved to Nashville, where the young artist began working on her first album, Heavenly Places. Released in '96, Heavenly Places has had five hit radio singles—an awesome accomplishment for any artist, let alone a brand new one. And last year, the Gospel Music Association gave her a Dove Award for "New Artist of the Year." Then, of course, there's her new album and a book, both due for release this spring.

I caught up with Jaci (and her mom) during her recent tour with Clay Crosse and Sunday Drive. While munching on burgers and sipping malts, Jaci and I (and her mom) talked about, yes, Jaci's close—and occasionally tense—relationship with her folks and, well, a whole lot more …

Campus Life: So what's been one of the biggest changes in your life lately?

Jaci: My 12 o'clock curfew!

CL:Your curfew?

Jaci: Yes. When I turned 18 my parents changed my curfew from 11 o'clock to midnight. It was great. … Do you want my potato wedges?

CL:Yeah, sure … Thanks. Now, talk to me about stuff like curfews. You sound like you're wanting a bit more independence these days.

Jaci: What teen doesn't? It seems like I rely on my folks for so much, and I just feel a need for more independence. You know, I've been so busy with music and touring, I haven't had time to get my driver's license! My parents have to take me everywhere! And then there's the telephone. I'll get on the phone and it seems Mom and Dad always want to know who I've been talking to.
Mrs. Velasquez:We don't ask all the time. It's just that, you know, we're curious. It's just kind of a natural question to ask.
Jaci:I do think I overreact. I mean, it's just that I need a little more privacy. … But the thing is, I love living with my parents. And I love having my mom on the road with me. I'd be lost without her. So I feel kind of torn between needing them and wanting them to treat me like an adult.

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