Jackson, Alan


Jackson, Alan
▪ 2004

      By 2003 many in the music industry were touting country singer and songwriter Alan Jackson as one of country music's all-time best artists. He had responded to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, by writing a song that described a range of reactions to the day's horrific events. Begun in the middle of a sleepless night, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”—with its images of a nation shocked, grieving, and struggling to cope—went on to win the 2002 Song of the Year from the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM) as well as the Grammy Award for best country song.

      Jackson's first hit, “Here in the Real World,” co-written by Jackson with Mark Irwin, arrived in the early months of 1990 and established the singer as a traditional artist with great talent as a composer of songs that spoke directly about the virtues of rural and small-town life, the vagaries of love, and the value of the country-music traditions inherited from predecessors such as George Jones and Hank Williams. Jackson's colleague Vince Gill described his songs as “simple truths that come from his heart.”

      Jackson was born on Oct. 17, 1958, in Newnan, Ga., but moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 1985 to pursue music as a career. His wife, Denise, met singer Glen Campbell in an airport, and the chance encounter eventually led to a songwriting contract for Jackson with Campbell's music-publishing company. In 1989 Jackson became the first artist signed to the country division of Arista Records, and he went on to sell more than 40 million albums and score many chart-topping hits, including “Chattahoochee.” The song about summer fun in the rural South stayed at the top of Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart for four weeks in 1993 and was named Song of the Year by the CMA. A traditionalist in his musical approach, Jackson became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1991, and he acknowledged his roots in 1999 on Under the Influence, an album featuring his interpretations of songs by artists such as Hank Williams Jr., Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, and Gene Watson. Jackson also recorded with George Jones, George Strait, Randy Travis, and Jimmy Buffett, among others.

      Jackson's many industry awards included 13 from the CMA, which named him Entertainer of the Year in 1995 and 2002. His five victories on Nov. 6, 2002, tied a CMA record, also held by Johnny Cash and Gill, for wins in a single night. His 11th album, Drive (2002), included the song “Drive (for Daddy Gene),” which paid tribute to Jackson's father, a mechanic who worked in the Ford plant near the Jacksons' Georgia hometown. Jackson added 2 more ACM trophies (for a total of 14) in 2003 for album of the year and video for “Drive.” In August his two-disc Greatest Hits Volume II entered the Billboard pop and country charts at number one.

Jay Orr

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▪ American singer-songwriter
born Oct. 17, 1958, Newnan, Ga., U.S.

      American country music singer-songwriter, who was one of the most popular male country artists of the 1990s and early 2000s.

      Jackson grew up in rural Georgia singing gospel music and performing, as a teenager, in a country duo. After dropping out of school and wedding his high-school sweetheart, Denise, Jackson worked odd jobs while playing with his band, Dixie Steel. After Denise, an airline stewardess, happened upon country artist Glen Campbell in an airport in 1985, Jackson's demo tape landed him a songwriting contract with Campbell's music-publishing company. The couple subsequently moved to Nashville.

      In 1989 Jackson became the first artist signed to the country division of Arista Records. His first hit, "Here in the Real World," cowritten in 1990 by Jackson with Mark Irwin, established the singer as a composer of songs that speak directly about the virtues of rural and small-town life, the vagaries of love, and the value of the country music traditions inherited from predecessors such as George Jones and Hank Williams (Williams, Hank).

      A traditionalist in his musical approach, Jackson became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1991, and he acknowledged his roots in 1999 on Under the Influence, an album featuring his interpretations of songs by artists such as Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, and Gene Watson. Jackson also recorded with George Jones, George Strait, Randy Travis, and Jimmy Buffett, among others.

      In response to the tragedy of the September 11 attacks in 2001, Jackson wrote a song that describes the range of reactions to the day's events. "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" went on to win Song of the Year awards from the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM) as well as the Grammy Award for best country song in 2002.

      Jackson's many industry awards include the CMA Entertainer of the Year award in 1995 and 2002. His 11th album, Drive (2002), includes "Where Were You" and the song "Drive (For Daddy Gene)," which paid tribute to Jackson's father. In 2003 Jackson won two ACM awards: album of the year and video of the year for "Drive." That same year his two-disc Greatest Hits Volume II entered the Billboard pop and country charts at number one. In 2006 Jackson released two studio albums—Precious Memories, a collection of 15 hymns, and Like Red on a Rose—both of which reached number one on the country charts.

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Universalium. 2010.

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