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Alan Jackson celebrates 30 years with documentary

Small Town Southern Man is available digitally and on DVD

Thirty years ago today, on June 26, 1989, music history was made, although the principals in the room didn’t know it and would’ve been hard-pressed to imagine the impact of the moment. That day, country music superstar Alan Jackson’s professional music career truly began as he signed his first record deal as the flagship artist for Arista Nashville, a label founded by Clive Davis and Tim DuBois in 1989. Now, the singer/songwriter is the subject of a new documentary called Alan Jackson: Small Town Southern Man via Eagle Rock Entertainment. The film is a brand new feature-length documentary, comprised of archival interviews with Jackson, his wife, and four sisters that tell the story of his career, peers as Carrie Underwood, Lee Ann Womack and Alison Krauss, along with industry leaders like his current label president, longtime producer and even the man who signed him to that record deal on that fateful June day.

Jackson made it to Nashville with the help of one of his sisters who loaned him ten grand. He eventually paid her back, but almost gave up after being turned down by labels many times.

“I was here five years and makin’ demos whenever I could and pitching them to record labels,” Jackson says. “I got passed on by every label in town at the time, some of them twice. Some of them were real discouraging, you know, their responses, but I guess I’m hardheaded. Some ways it made me want to succeed more, I guess, so I kept trying. The year I finally got something going, I was about tired, I was about to give it up.”

Thankfully, he didn’t give up or country music would never be the same. Jackson was part of the neo-traditionalist movement that came out of the 80’s, along with George Strait, Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis. Each of these acts favored more traditional sounding country during a pop-oriented era. It turned the industry around.

“Those guys all did a lot more traditional-leaning country music,” Womack, a neo-traditionalist herself, shares. “They were much more in the vein of, in my mind, they were like mavericks, like a Hank Williams would’ve been or like a Johnny Cash would’ve been, you know, so even though it was on the more traditional side of country music, it was edgier than a lot of the middle of the road stuff that was being made at the time.”

Jackson may have started out as a singer, but he quickly became known as a singer/songwriter who didn’t and still doesn’t follow trends. Jackson writes much of his material, but he’s not afraid to record outside music. He once stated, “The best song wins. That’s what’s best for my career.”

Alan Jackson: Small Town Southern Man takes fans inside the career of the man behind the hits “Here In The Real World,” “Don’t Rock The Jukebox,” “Gone Country,” “Chattahoochee,” “She’s Got The Rhythm (And I Got The Blues),” “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow,” “Country Boy,” and many more. It’s pretty in depth, more than I expected, of the shy singer/songwriter from Newnan, GA, and would be a great addition to any country fan’s collection. The film runs roughly 90 minutes and takes fans on Jackson’s journey from Newnan, GA to Nashville, TN.

The scope of Jackson’s 30 year career has been noted in recent years with his inductions to the Country Music Hall of Fame and to the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His contributions to music have, of course, also been celebrated by The Recording Academy (with multiple Grammy Award nominations and wins) and with membership in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. The Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association have saluted his artistry with over 150 nominations and 35 awards (combined), including three CMA Entertainer of the Year trophies (one of only five artists in history to earn that many).

In addition to these accolades, a newly-created exhibit in his hometown of Newnan, GA showcasing the locality’s favorite son has been unveiled and is now on display. The museum-quality display can be enjoyed by locals and visitors to the Coweta County Visitors Center located in the historic 1904 courthouse. A block away, a new mural also celebrates Newnan’s hometown boy – a two-story image of Jackson covers the side of a building at 11 North Court Square, commissioned by the city and created over the last several months.

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.