Special To The Mississippi Link
LOUISVILLE – Louisville native Carl Jackson is not only a celebrated solo artist, but his collaborative efforts with other legendary Country performers has earned him a place right beside the likes of Glen Campbell, Vince Gill and Dolly Parton.
Jackson was honored by his home state last month when he was immortalized with a Mississippi Country Music Trail Marker. The marker unveiling took place in Louisville, Miss.
The winner of numerous Grammy Awards, Jackson played banjo as a boy, and by the age of fourteen was performing on the Grand Ole Opry. By the age of 20.he had established a versatile career as a recording vocalist, instrumentalist, songwriter, and record producer in bluegrass and mainstream country music that made him one of the most sought after contributors and collaborators in both genres well into the twenty-first century.
“Carl Jackson proudly represents Mississippi’s rich musical heritage,” said Mary Beth Wilkerson, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division. “He is an important addition to the Mississippi Country Music Trail and deserves this honor.”
Jackson, who was born in Louisville, on Sept. 18, 1953, grew up in a musical family, took to the guitar, mandolin, dobro and fiddle in childhood, and by age nine was proficient enough on the banjo, his instrument of choice, to begin playing with his father’s and uncles’ bluegrass band, The Country Partners.
Bluegrass legends Jim and Jesse McReynolds saw young Carl play and invited him to join their band; he would be one of their Virginia Boys for five years that included frequent Grand Ole Opry appearances.
After a brief stint with Mississippi’s Sullivan Family Gospel group, he became the featured banjo player for country and pop star Glen Campbell, touring with him from 1972-1984. As an instrumentalist, lead or back-up vocalist, songwriter and record producer, Jackson would find success in both the bluegrass and mainstream country fields for years to come.
Jackson’s own initial recordings, produced by both smaller, independent labels and for Capitol Records through the 1970s and early 1980s, were bluegrass albums, which often spotlighted his premier banjo work, as did his role during 1986 as a member of Emmylou Harris’s Angel Band.
In the mid-80s, Jackson’s vocal and songwriting skills came more to the forefront. He recorded four country singles for Columbia Records, two of them Top 40 hits, and began appearing as a back-up vocalist for artists that eventually included Tammy Wynette, Hank Williams Jr., Roger Miller, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard and Garth Brooks.
As a songwriter of hundreds of recorded songs, Jackson wrote top chart hits that included “(Love Always) Letter to Home” for Glen Campbell, “Put Yourself in My Place” for Pam Tillis and “No Future in the Past” for Vince Gill. His song “Little Mountain Church House” was voted the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Song of the Year for 1990. The album Spring Training, his own 1991 collaboration with John Starling, won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.
From the 1990s, Jackson became a celebrated record producer as well, for projects that ranged from work with young, emerging bluegrass and country artists to special historic projects involving some of country music’s grandest names, including his salute “Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’-Songs of the Louvin Brothers,” featuring Johnny Cash, Ronnie Dunn, Marty Stuart, Linda Ronstadt and Del McCoury, which won the 2003 Grammy for Country Album of the Year; a bluegrass album with Merle Haggard; and an all-star set exploring Mark Twain’s life in songs. Throughout this singular, celebrated career, Jackson regularly returned to Louisville for “Home for Christmas” concerts.
He was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in 2006.