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Last updated Tue, Mar 4, 2008
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Jackson releases 17th album

Published 3/1/2008 in The Times-Herald

From Staff Reports

On Tuesday (3/1/08), Newnan native Alan Jackson, one of country music's great songwriters and singers, will release "Good Time." His 17th album contains 17 new songs — one a duet with Martina McBride — all written by Jackson.

"Good Time" reunites Jackson with longtime producer Keith Stegall.

The lead single from the album, "Small Town Southern Man," is No. 4 in Billboard and Radio & Records and No. 5 in Country Aircheck. The song relates the life and values of Jackson's late father, Eugene. A video of the song currently getting play has Jackson in costumes related to the various era's of his father's life.
Jackson will perform and answer audience questions on CMT's "Invitation Only" today, and on Tuesday he will perform on the "Today Show." On April l4, he will perform on the CMT Awards.

"I felt like I wanted something that had some fun on it, because when I play in concert people still want to hear songs like 'Chattahoochee' and 'Don't Rock the Jukebox.' It's why I wanted to call it 'Good Time' even though the whole album's not a bunch of party songs," said Jackson.

Some of the songs featured are the '60s-based country-soul of "When the Love Factor's High," the strummed memories of "1976," the deceptive dittiness of "I

Still like Bologna," the harmonica-flecked "Never Loved Before" (a duet with McBride) and the Nashville elegance of "I Wish I Could Back Up."

Jackson has sold more than 49 million albums, has penned 21 of his 31 No. 1 hits and is the most nominated artist in CMA history.

The three-time CMA Entertainer of the Year topped the album charts twice in 2006, with the success of "Precious Memories" and "Like Red on a Rose."

'Uncle Alan' casts shadow on husband-and-wife duo the Wrights

AP Entertainment Writer

Published 2/11/2008 in The Times-Herald

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — This city is full of singers and musicians looking for a break. Very few, though, have a country superstar for an uncle.
And there's the rub: No matter how talented Adam Wright and his wife Shannon may be, some will wonder if the duo got an easy ride because of Adam's famous uncle, Alan Jackson.

"Some people think because of the connection to Alan that we jumped up and everything was easy and it was smooth sailing, but that's not how it happened at all," Shannon Wright said.

The couple, who call themselves the Wrights, released their self-titled sophomore album this week on Jackson's ACR label.
They wrote or co-wrote most of the songs and brought in producer Keith Stegall and songwriter Paul Kennerley for a disc that's sparse and rootsy with just enough polish to be accessible to radio.

The couple sat together for an interview recently, and said Jackson was always supportive and helpful — up to a point.

"He always said 'I can get you meetings and introduce you to people, but that's all I can do,;"' recalled Adam, who is the son of Jackson's older sister and was a ring-bearer in his uncle's wedding when he was about 4 years old.

For his part, the soft-spoken Jackson said the duo are deserving. "They'd been playing music, writing songs and singing all their life. They're the real deal."

Adam, 31, and Shannon, 33, both from Georgia, played in bands for years before they met in 1998. They wrote and performed together in Atlanta for about five years until, in one whirlwind week, they married and moved to Nashville.

"We had started digging deep into the country catalog and fell in love with it and got excited by the simplicity of the writing and the harmony singing," Shannon said. "We were pumped about coming to Nashville."

But once here, it was more of the same. She waited tables and he worked in construction while they made music and looked for a deal.

Finally, in 2005, Jackson signed them to his ACR label and released their debut, "Down This Road."

"I thought they were at a point where they were going to end up getting an offer somewhere," Jackson recalled. "I said 'I can put you on my label, and that way you can cut the record however you want to and do what you want to do."'

The star began the label as an offshoot for his side projects, like his 2006 gospel collection "Precious Memories." The Wrights are the only act he's signed to it.

Jackson records his own material for Arista Nashville.

While their debut didn't produce any hits, it did get them exposure on Country Music Television with a video for the album's title track.

Jackson also recorded a couple of their songs and took them on the road with him.

For a songwriter, having a superstar record your tune is like striking oil. But while the Wrights were pleased, they couldn't get around the fact that Jackson is family.

When veteran R&B singer Solomon Burke covered one of their songs a couple years later for his album "Nashville," they were thrilled.

"To have somebody cut it who I have no relationship with whatsoever was huge," Adam said.

"You open up the album and there we are beside Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Don Williams and Bruce Springsteen songs," Shannon added. "That's something we'll have forever."

With the new record, the Wrights are bound to draw comparisons to classic male/female tandems like George Jones and Tammy Wynette. It's a sound that's been missing for a while and one that Jackson thinks is overdue.

But the Wrights didn't go back that far for inspiration. They had in mind the late '80s when neo-traditionalists like Patty Loveless and Randy Travis were wresting country music from a pop phase — and when a young singer named Alan Jackson from Newnan, Ga., was waiting for his break.

Jackson draws hometown crowd at book signing


Published 7/25/2007 in The Times-Herald

(See video of the book signing)

Some brought lawn chairs and water bottles, others juggled children and strollers, and still others came with cameras and lifelong friends. But everyone waiting in the long line in front of Scott's Bookstore in downtown Newnan Tuesday afternoon had one thing in common — a tightly-gripped copy of Denise Jackson's new book, ready to be signed by Jackson herself.

This wasn't just an ordinary book signing.

When Denise Jackson returned to her hometown to autograph "It's All About Him: Finding the Love of My Life," a memoir about her relationship with her country music husband Alan Jackson, she tapped into the heritage of Newnan and the generations of the Jackson family that call it home.

Bonnie Bates of Newnan reported that she saw people waiting outside of Scott's at 9:30 Tuesday morning for the book signing, which lasted from 4-6 p.m. For Bates, Jackson's book brings a sense of family pride.

"We were real good friends with her daddy, and he was a wonderful person," she said.

Others were equally enthusiastic about the Jackson family. "We love Denise and Alan," said Minnie Smith of Carrollton. "We're as big of fans of Denise as we are of Alan."

Jackson was still signing books for a long line of fans after 6 p.m. — after all the 600 books had sold out.

"We looked after Denise's father for nine years, and we still go see Momma Jackson," added Phyllis Photts, also of Carrollton. "Denise is a very sweet and considerate person."

Jo Cook and Beth Headrick of Dalton, Ga., connected with the Jackson family through Cathy Jackson Wright, who heads the Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center at Shenandoah.

"I'm a teacher, and we took classes at Shenandoah where we met Alan Jackson's sister and found out about this book signing," said Cook. "Kathy was very helpful. The whole town of Newnan was so friendly and helpful to us."

Fans from outside of Newnan also attended the book signing to show their devotion to Jackson. Loretta Audiss, a member of Denise's fan club, says that she flew into Atlanta from Mississippi just for this event.

Anthony Manos of Lawrenceville, Ga., says that his interest in Alan Jackson drew him to the book signing. "I like Alan Jackson, so I wanted to read this book," Manos said. "To me, he's the greatest country singer there is. I have heard that Denise is a great writer."

Whether they've known her since she was in diapers or looked forward to meeting her for the first time, there's no denying the excitement these fans brought in welcoming Jackson home and celebrating the release of her book.

Singer Jackson's father Eugene dies

Published 2/2/00 in The Times-Herald


Assistant News Editor

Eugene Jackson, the father of country music singer Alan Jackson, died Monday at Newnan Hospital.

Jackson, 72, was retired from Ford Motor Company. He also worked for Coweta County for many years.

He was a member of First Baptist Church of Newnan.

The Coweta County Commissioners paid tribute briefly to Jackson at their meeting Tuesday. Chairman Vernon "Mutt" Hunter recalled Jackson's service as a county employee and mentioned that he was the father of former County Commissioner Diane Dawson.

In addition to Dawson and Alan Jackson, Eugene and Ruth Jackson have three other children -- Connie Davis, a former Coweta County educator who now is a principal in Dahlonega; Cathy Wright, director of the Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center at Shenandoah; and Carol Frank, consultant with the Coweta County School System's special education office.

Eugene Jackson and Ruth Musick were married Aug. 17, 1946 after he had served in the U. S. Navy during World War II. The Jacksons celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a family celebration at Newnan Country Club in 1996.

Services will be held today at 2 p.m. in the chapel of McKoon Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to NCARC-Rutledge Center, 61 Hospital Rd., Newnan 30263 or American Cancer Society, 27 Clark St., Newnan, GA 30263.

Alan & Parents

Photo by Steve Hill ©1996 The (Newnan, Georgia) Times-Herald

Alan Jackson's parents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration

August 17,1996 in Newnan

Jackson up for top vocalist, entertainer awards at CMAs

By Gary Leftwich
Staff Writer

August 15, 1997 issue

Newnan native son Alan Jackson received nominations for best male vocalist and top entertainer as nominees were announced Tuesday for the 31st Annual Country Music Association Awards.

Jackson also will be in the running for top album with "Everything I Love" when the awards are handed out Sept. 24. The program will be broadcast on CBS - WGNX Channel 46 in Atlanta.

Old favorite George Strait and newcomer Deana Carter were the top nominees. Carter and Strait had five nominations apiece.

Carter's debut album, "Did I Shave My Legs for This?", is up for best album. Her breakthrough hit, "Strawberry Wine," was nominated for both best single and video.

Carter, 31, also was nominated for best female vocalist and the Horizon Award for career progress during the past year.

Strait, 45, is nominated for best entertainer, along with Jackson, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill and Brooks & Dunn. He also is up for male vocalist, best album for "Carrying Your Love with Me," and has two nominations for best single - "Carried Away" and "One Night at a Time."

Strait's 42 nominations since 1981 make are second only to Merle Haggard's 43. Strait was named best entertainer in 1989 and 1990.

Nominated for best female vocalist with Carter are Loveless, LeAnn Rimes, Pam Tillis and Trisha Yearwood. The male vocalist category has the same nominees as 1996: Strait, Gill, Jackson, Collin Raye and White.

Tim McGraw's "It's Your Love," performed with wife Faith Hill, received three nominations - best single, video and vocal event. Pam Tillis' hit "All the Good Ones Are Gone" is also well-represented, with nominations for best single, song and video.

Up for best vocal group are Alabama, Diamond Rio, the Mavericks, Ricochet and Sawyer Brown.

Christian music performer Bob Carlisle and coauthor Randy Thomas are nominated for song of the year, a songwriter award, for "Butterfly Kisses." Carlisle's recording of the song was such a big hit on the adult contemporary charts that it inspired three other country versions, including a version with a country arrangement backing Carlisle's original vocal.

Kathy Mattea picked up nominations for best video ("455 Rocket") and vocal event (a duet with George Jones on "You've Got a Friend in Me"). They're her first nominations since 1991.

The nominees were selected by about 7,000 country music industry workers who are members of the CMA. They will pick winners in another round of balloting.

The reigning entertainer of the year, the CMA's top award, is Brooks & Dunn. Loveless and Strait are the current female and male vocalists of the year.

There are two other major country music awards shows. The Academy of Country Music stages another industry-voted awards show in California in the spring. The TNN Music City News Awards, chosen by fan vote, come out in the summer.

Jackson content with slow life in the fast lane

By Gary Leftwich
Times-Herald Staff Writer

August 15, 1997 issue

A conversation with Alan Jackson is like talking with an old friend.

As content to discuss family and fishing as he is to talk about his lengthy string of hit songs and awards, the country superstar seems little changed from his days as a forklift driver in Newnan.

Keeping in touch with those leaner times in more comfortable days has been the secret to his success, if there is one.

"It's got to have an effect on you," the singer said recently from his home in outside Nashville. "That's one of the hardest parts - staying in touch with where you were in the beginning, where your heart was."

"Most of my fans are working people like I was before," he added. "Even though my life has changed a lot, it's pretty simple inside."

Always present in Jackson's songs, that down-home demeanor flows freely on his latest record, Everything I Love. From the two-step groove of the Tom T. Hall remake, Little Bitty, to the father-son tribute, Walk on the Rocks, the album is Jackson's purest yet.

"It's kind of what I've always done - good country music," he said. "It's more relaxed, because I have more experience in the studio and I have more confidence as an artist."

That experience, and the respect which comes with it, left Jackson free to choose the direction of the album. Seizing that freedom, he picked a variety of tunes, songs that he liked.

"I don't really worry about what's going to happen to it commercially," Jackson said. "I've picked up so many albums where all the songs sound the same and they're all about the same thing."

That led the singer to combine several of his own songs with country hits from earlier days done his way. Charly McClain's fluffy Who's Cheatin' Who rocks with muscular honkytonk spin, while Jackson turns in one of his trademark ballads with Between the Devil and Me.

Part of the credit lies with producer Keith Stegall, who has helped craft all seven of Jackson's records.

"He's the guy that recorded the first material that helped me get my record deal," the singer said. "Prior to that, I had actually worked with a couple of guys who always wanted to take me in a new direction or make me sound some way. He lets you be yourself. I don't know. I think it would be hard to work with anyone else."

The partnership has struck gold over and over again, creating 21 chart-topping hits and helping to sell more than 21 million albums.

In June, Jackson won his fifth straight top entertainer award and his sixth straight top male vocalist award at the TNN Music City News Award.

Last year, Jackson released a greatest hits package only six years after releasing his first single. You guessed it - that album reached number one as well.

Try to corner him on his favorite song and Jackson seems hard-pressed to choose just one.

"I've had so many that it's hard to think back," he said. "We actually had to leave some of the hits off there. It didn't actually hit me until we had finished the record. I was listening to it and thought 'Man, I'm lucky.' It's a powerful feeling to think I'm that lucky."

In fact Jackson has recorded so many fan-pleasing songs that it has become hard to fit them all in on stage.

"I've got a lot of hits to do now and sometimes I can't do them all in the show like I used to," he said. "So I do bits and pieces of some of those, telling the stories about how I wrote them."

No two nights are the same.

"I've always tried to keep it different. Other acts rehearse at the start of a tour and do the same show night after night," Jackson said. "Sometimes we might throw in some old gospel thing or bluegrass thing and see what happens. You can also get a good measure of what people think of a new song."

During breaks from the road, Jackson spends time with his wife and daughters and his extended family from Newnan. Daughters Mattie, 7, and Ally, 4, have helped to keep him grounded through the whirlwind of stardom.

"They're wonderful," he said. "If I had twin boys, that would be all I need."

At 38, Jackson is assured a long future among country music's elite. And while he seems to have a solid method for churning out hits, Jackson admits that he's not sure what it takes to create popular songs.

"I wish I knew what the magic ingredients were. I listen to my record and don't know why they're so popular," Jackson said with that country-boy modesty peeking through again. "I've always been a believer that it's the songs."

"When you get successful, you get busy and the music's not important any more," he said. "When you're struggling to make it, you're writing and recording and that's your focus. That's what I've tried to keep in mind and that's what's made me successful, I guess."

Fourth of July 1996 will be one for the memory books

-Photo by Steve Hill

The Alan Jackson family responds with smiles and waves to the warm welcome given them during the July 4th parade. Bobby Welch drives the Jacksons in a vintage Chevrolet Impala convertible. From left are Mattie, Alan, Denise and Ali Jackson. The famous singer surprised fans by singing at Drake Stadium.

By Ellen Corker
and Winston Skinner
News Editors

The 1996 celebrations made for a Fourth of July to remember Thursday as top-award-winning country music star Alan Jackson retuned home as grand marshal for the Newnan Independence Day parade and Moreland celebrated 50 years of an all-American, all-Southern barbecue.

Jackson and his family rode at the head of the parade Thursday evening that started at 5:30 at the city park at Temple Avenue and Jackson Street and made its way from downtown out LaGrange Street to Newnan High's Drake Stadium for the evening's entertainment that started about 6:30. The Jacksons rode in a classic convertible with former Coweta Schools Superintendent Bobby Welch at the wheel.

Capping the beautiful day with clear skys and a break in the close to 100-degree temperatures of the last week or so, Jackson made an appearance at the Fourth of July celebration about 9 p.m., talking to the home folks and giving them a July 4th gift by singing three of his hit songs - "Gone Country," "Don't Rock the Juke Box" and "Chattahoochee." The grand stand was packed and a crowd of fans surrounded the stage area - cheering their home-town hero.

During his appearance at the stadium Jackson also announced the winners of the parade float competition, and his mother and wife judged a look-alike contest.

As Jackson left the stage and was escorted in a Coweta Sheriff's Department car from the stadium, his road buses following behind, the annual fireworks extravaganza got underway with a spectacular 30-minute show that ended about 10 p.m.

Just prior to the fireworks, The Acapella Trio composed of his sisters Carol Frank and Cathy Wright and fellow singer Merry Todd sang the national anthem as a group of Boy Scouts from St. George Catholic Church raised the colors.

Also entertaining the crowd were Chordially Yours and the Rising Saints Choir. Cody Deal and his Wild-Eyed Dream band arrived at the stadium in the parade aboard a bright red pick-up truck pulling an antique Coca-Cola cooler on wheels.

Deal, who sang with Jackson before he became famous, and his band backed up Jackson at Thursday night's surprise performance.

Colorful floats and delegations from local groups and businesses made for what appeared to be the largest Independence Day parade Newnan has mounted in recent years. Among the highlights were horses and riders from the Coweta County 4-H Horse and Pony Club, the ever-present and fun-loving Newnan Shriners, a combined high school marching band, and a delegation from Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Grantville with ponies, a llama, an exotic bird and even a lion cub sitting on back between center directors Mary Lou Wooters and George Hichborn.

An impressive addition reminiscent of Coweta County's rural roots was the contingent from the West Georgia Two Cylinder Club with two dozen or more classic tractors rumbling along the parade route, many decorated in red, white and blue for the holiday.

Of course the parade was quite lengthy with delegations of the many candidates seeking office in this coming Tuesday's primary elections.

Winners in the annual parade float competition, sponsored by Main Street Newnan, included winners in three categories - business, schools and churches and civic groups and non-profit organizations.

Business winners were, first, Newnan Hospital; and second, the Bibb Company. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints won first place in the school/church category.

Prizes in the civic/non-profit group went to the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce Olympic committee, first; the Coweta County Convention and Visitors Bureau, second; and the Sharpsburg Sharpshooters, Sons of Confederate Veterans, third.

Alan, Denise and car

In his younger days country music star Alan Jackson and his wife Denise are shown in his 1955 Thunderbird when they were dating. (Photo by Bob Shapiro, ©1996 The (Newnan, Georgia) Times-Herald)

Performing in the July, 1994 Flood Relief Concert atr the Omni in Atlanta.
(Photo by Steve Hill, ©1994 The (Newnan, Georgia) Times-Herald)

Publicity still photo

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