January 8, 2012 12:27:00 AM
From the time he was 14, playing banjo with Jim and Jesse McReynolds on the Grand Ole Opry stage, Carl Jackson has been turning heads in the music industry. Four productive decades later, the 58-year-old instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter and record producer was honored in his hometown of Louisville with the latest marker on the Mississippi Country Music Trail.
A drizzling rain didn't dampen spirits in Winston County Dec. 10 when the red drape was pulled from the distinctive marker on Main Street, behind the Strand Theatre, where Jackson performed his annual Home for Christmas concert. The location was once a doctor's office, where Jackson was born, according to an article in the Winston County Journal.
State Senator Giles Ward opened the ceremony, thanking the state of Mississippi and all who donated toward the marker's purchase. He also recognized local officials who helped arrange for the marker's placement behind the Strand.
"I feel so blessed to be born and raised here," Jackson said, thanking all in attendance and noting how much the dedication and his home county mean to him.
Mary Beth Wilkerson, director of the Mississippi Development Authority's Tourism Division, said, "Carl Jackson proudly represents Mississippi's rich musical heritage. He is an important addition to the Country Music Trail and deserves this honor."
After a five-year stint with the McReynolds' Virginia Boys, Jackson soon became the featured banjo player for country and pop star Glen Campbell, touring with him from 1972 to 1984. As instrumentalist, lead or back-up vocalist, songwriter and producer, he found success in both the bluegrass and mainstream country fields.
His premier banjo work was often spotlighted while playing with Emmylou Harris' Angel Band in 1986. He also recorded four country singles for Columbia Records, two of them Top 40 hits. He went on to perform with artists including Hank Williams Jr., Roger Miller, Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks.
Jackson wrote chart hits including "(Love Always) Letter to Home" for Campbell, "Put Yourself in My Place" for Pam Tillis," and "No Future in the Past" for Vince Gill.
His many awards include a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album (1991's "Spring Training" with John Starling) and 2003's Grammy for Country Album of the Year for "Livin', Lovin', Losin' - Songs of the Louvin Brothers."
The celebrated record producer's latest project is the newly-released all-star "Mark Twain: Words & Music" featuring the talents of Jimmy Buffett, Clint Eastwood, Garrison Keillor and many more.
Throughout his career, Jackson has returned to Louisville for his annual Christmas concerts. He was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in 2006.
Much like the Mississippi Blues Trail, which now garners more than 140 markers, the Mississippi Country Music Trail celebrates Mississippi's rich heritage of country music legends and chart toppers.
For more information about the Mississippi Country Music Trail, go to VisitMississippi.org.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.