Alan Jackson (October 17, 1958)
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A native of Newnan, Georgia, Alan Jackson was not like the typical music star and did not discover his interest and talent for music until after he graduated from high school. He began to dream of becoming a Country music star after sitting in with local bands and writing songs following a full day's work as a mechanic or a forklift driver. Jackson and his wife, Denise, left Georgia for Nashville in 1985 and one of his first jobs there was working in the mailroom for The Nashville Network. He credits that job with helping teach him about the industry.
After several rejections from other labels, Arista Records signed Jackson as its first Country music act in 1989. Denise Jackson wrote in her autobiography, It's All About Him, that when they were poor and Jackson was thinking about giving up on Country music, they enlisted the help of friends to call radio stations around the country to request his songs. That tactic was no longer necessary when his second single, "Here in the Real World," became a #1 hit in 1990. He was named Top New Male Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music that year. In 1991, Jackson won the ACM Album of the Year for Don't Rock the Jukebox, while the title track won Single of the Year.
Jackson is known as a staunch supporter of traditional Country music and showed his solidarity with George Jones, one of country music's legends, in 1999. Jones was asked by the Country Music Association to trim his performance of his song, "Choices
," to 90 seconds for the live broadcast. Insulted by the request, Jones refused to attend. Jackson, who was the CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1995, interrupted the performance of his own song, "Pop a Top," to sing part of "Choices." Jackson later said to CMT.com in 2010 that Jones, who had recently survived a horrific car crash, deserved to sing the song and the way he was treated "made me mad."
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Jackson was inspired to write a song and released "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning") in November 2001 as part of the Drive album. He told the Los Angeles Times in a 2006 interview that dealing with such a difficult topic in a song for the first time brought a new level of emotion to his songwriting. Jackson believes the song is about "faith, hope, and love," making it appropriate for any of life's tragedies, despite its association with 9/11.
In 2010, Jackson left Arista Records to enter a partnership between EMI Records and his own label, Alan's Country Records (ACR). In his 22 years with Arista, Jackson sold over 50 million albums. His 17th studio album, Thirty Miles West, is the first project under the partnership. His nephew, Adam Wright, co-wrote the album's first single, "You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore." Jackson told The Boot that the demo, "raised the hair on my arms," and is the type of sad, emotional song that makes him want to be in Country music.
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