Support Us Button Widget

Chief Cleopatra will take the stage at ACL Music Festival for the first time this year

Meet the ACL first-timer and five-time SXSW alumna, a Texas native who has been performing R&B and genre-bending music for years.

Chief Cleopatra wearing a black sparkly dress with the microphone to her mouth.

Chief Cleopatra will perform at weekend one of ACL Festival this year.

Photo by Salihah Saadiq

No ACL Music Festival lineup is complete without a couple dozen local artists, and this year, Chief Cleopatra will perform at the fest for the first time in her career.

The native Texan, multi-instrumentalist, and five-time SXSW Music Festival performer said getting the opportunity to hit the ACL stage was “very surreal.”

Chief Cleopatra — whose real name is Jalesa Jessie — sat down with ATXtoday to talk about it.

Jessie began her journey as a musician as a child, singing in her church choir, playing snare in marching band, and learning bass + piano in Corsicana, Texas.

"(One year) my mom and dad bought me a drum set for Christmas, along with Led Zeppelin’s discography,” Jessie said. “My mom didn’t understand what was going on, but she was like, ‘this is what she wants.’”

Chief Cleopatra from below, holding a microphone and wearing a sailor moon outfit, against a purple background.

An alumna of Hot Summer Nights and SXSW, Chief Cleopatra said her favorite local venue to perform in is Antone’s Nightclub.

Photo by Konstantin Belyshev

Since then, Jessie has largely been focusing on music, and moved to Austin in 2021 to pursue her passion further.

“For a few years now, I’ve been trying to bother (ACL) about playing,” Jessie said. “I’m still really in shock about to be honest with you ... it’s great, it’s a dream come true.”

If you stop by for her set, you’re in for a unique performance. Jessie said she plans to play drums live for the first time and perform her new single, “Cold Dancer.”

You might see Jessie walking the festival grounds after her set, as she said she plans to be in the audience for Khruangbin, Santigold, Leon Bridges, and Jungle.

Chief Cleopatra with long blonde braids, a shiny pink dress, white boots, and holding a microphone on stage.

Chief Cleopatra performed with a few bands before going solo in pursuit of a lasting career in music.

Photo by Felicia Graham

An ACL set isn’t all that 2024 has in store for Jessie — Chief Cleopatra is also up for America’s Next Top Hitmaker. If she wins, she’ll earn $10,000 and a feature in Rolling Stone Magazine — vote here.

Haven’t heard her music yet? Jessie recommends starting with “Belushi” and “Dreamlights.”

Psst — don’t miss our upcoming guide to every local artist performing at the festival.

More from ATXtoday
The new park area has something for all Austinites — young and old — with play areas, seating, a dock, and access to the rest of the trail.
We’ve got details and a map full of drink deals: We’ll be highlighting the vibrant beverage scene across Austin, TX from July 22 to July 26, 2024.
The New York-based bar’s debut is a sneak peek into 6th Street’s future.
Here’s a timeline chronicling decades of the nonprofit organization entertaining Austin at no cost.
The high-profile restaurant will bring in A-list football players to serve and socialize in support of the Fair Catch Foundation.
With construction for The Confluence continuing along Waller Creek, trail users should expect route disruptions for the next several months.
We asked ChatGPT which travel destinations in the US are most similar to Bat City. See what the artificial intelligence program said.
Ready for your lunch break? Check out these 33 lunches from north to south Austin.
Located in the heart of Old West Austin, Lou Lambert’s luxurious two-bedroom Castle Hill home is on the market for $1,650,000 now.
Make the most of good weather by taking your meals al fresco on one of Austin’s many beautiful patios.