Carl Jackson sings “The Little Mountain Church”
Born September 18, 1953 in Louisville, MS, multiple-Grammy winner, Carl Jackson, became an accomplished bluegrass songwriter and instrumentalist at an early age. When Carl was 14 years old and playing in his father’s bluegrass band, he was approached by Hall of Fame inductees Jim & Jesse (McReynolds) to join their backing group, the Virginia Boys. He accepted their offer and went on to play the banjo with their group for five years, spending the majority of his teenage years performing with the famed duo across the nation and at frequent appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.
At approximately 18 years of age, Jackson signed a recording contract with Prize records and in 1971, he released his album, Bluegrass Festival. That same year, Carl left Jim and Jesse to play with the Sullivan Family, but ended up moving to Ohio less than a year later to start his own group, The Country Store, with close friends Jimmy Gaudreau, Bill Rawlins, and the late Keith Whitley. The band in its original form would last little more than a week, for just around the corner lay another big break for the boy from the hills of Mississippi.
Glen Campbell came into town to play the state fair and being huge fans of his, Carl and Keith went out to see the show. Afterwards they ran into Glen’s banjo player, Larry McNeely, who persuaded Carl to come by the next day for a jam session. After picking for a while, Larry suddenly told Carl he had been looking for someone to take his place with Glen because he was tired of traveling and that Carl was the man. Larry took him to meet and play for Campbell and Glen hired him on the spot. For the next twelve years, Glen featured Carl everywhere he went as “the greatest banjo player in the world.”
During this time, however, he recorded his own albums Banjo Player and Old Friend for Capitol. Carl ended up signing with Sugar Hill in 1981 where he released Banjo Man, a tribute to Earl Scruggs. He also recorded Songs of the South and reunited with Jim & Jesse in 1983 to record Banjo Hits.
In 1984, Carl Jackson parted ways with Glen Campbell and signed with Columbia Records where he began to hit the charts. His cover of “She’s Gone, Gone, Gone” by Lefty Frizzell reached 44 on the charts that same year. He also wrote “(Love Always) Letter to Home,” which landed a spot on the top 15 under Glen Campbell’s name. In the late 1980s, Carl sang harmonies on records by Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks, and Roger Miller.
In the 90s, he earned the International Bluegrass Association’s Song of the Year award in 1990 for “Little Mountain Church Home,” recorded by Ricky Skaggs and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on Will the Circle Be Unbroken Vol. 2. The following year he won a Best Bluegrass Album Grammy with John Starling & the Nash Ramblers for Spring Training.
More information on Carl Jackson can be found at his website, http://www.carljackson.net