Alan Jackson is a country singer and songwriter who built his career around a “traditional country” musical style. He is best known for songs such as “Chattahoochee” and “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning),” which he wrote following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Jackson has recorded 16 studio albums and three greatest hits albums, as well as two Christmas albums and a pair of gospel music albums. Over the course of his career, he has received two Grammy Awards and 16 CMA Awards.
Jackson was born to Joseph Eugene “Daddy Gene” Jackson (1927–2000) and Ruth Musick “Mama Ruth” Jackson (1930–2017) in Newnan, Georgia, and has four older sisters. He and his immediate family lived in a small home built around his grandfather’s old toolshed. The family is primarily of English descent. His mother lived in the home until her death on January 7, 2017. He began writing music in 1983.
Jackson is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide, with 44 million sold in the United States alone. He has had 66 songs appear on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart; of the 66 titles, and six featured singles, 38 have reached the top five and 35 have claimed the number one spot. Out of 15 titles to reach the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, nine have been certified multi-platinum. He is the recipient of two Grammy Awards, 16 CMA Awards, 17 ACM Awards and nominee of multiple other awards. He is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2001. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017 by Loretta Lynn and into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
Recommended: List Of Songs By Alan Jackson
In 1989 Jackson became the first artist signed to the country division of Arista Records, and he released his debut album, Here in the Real World, that same year. Its hit title track, cowritten 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. Jackson experienced further success with such honky-tonk-inspired albums as Don’t Rock the Jukebox (1991); A Lot About Livin’ (And a Little ’Bout Love) (1992), which featured the hit single “Chattahoochee”; and Who I Am (1994).
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 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 awards for song of the year from both the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM) as well as a Grammy Award for best country song. The song was included on Jackson’s 10th studio album, Drive (2002), along with “Drive (for Daddy Gene),” which paid tribute to his father.
In 2006 Jackson released two albums that were dominated by songs written by others—Precious Memories, a collection of 15 hymns, and the intimate Like Red on a Rose. Subsequent releases, such as Good Time (2008), Thirty Miles West (2012), The Bluegrass Album (2013), and Angels and Alcohol (2015), confirmed his enduring popularity. He teamed with the Zac Brown Band on the song “As She’s Walking Away” (2010), earning a share of the Grammy for best country collaboration with vocals in 2011. Jackson’s many industry awards include the CMA award for entertainer of the year in 1995, 2002, and 2003. In addition, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017.
Jackson married his high school sweetheart, Denise Jackson, on December 15, 1979. They have three daughters: Mattie Denise Selecman (born June 19, 1990), Alexandra Jane “Ali” (born August 23, 1993), and Dani Grace (born August 28, 1997). The couple became grandparents in December 2022 when their daughter Ali and her husband Sam Bradshaw welcomed their first child, a son. Although the couple separated for several months in 1998 due to the strains of Jackson’s career as well as his infidelity, they have since reconciled.