BY Lindsay Owens Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — Jackson Young doesn’t care much about fame. “I’m not a fan of the fame now,” Young said during an interview earlier this week. “I just like the hard work and dedication.”
Young, formally of Martin County, now an up-and-coming country music artist based in Nashville, Tenn., will be in Loogootee on Tuesday promoting his new album “Let It Ride” during “Jackson Young and Country Day”. Mayor Noel Harty signed a proclamation earlier this month declaring the day.
”It is with great pleasure the City of Loogootee is proclaiming Tuesday, Aug. 20 “Country Day”. Both Martin County and the City of Loogootee are so honored to have a song named after its community. Mr. Jackson Young is to be commended for all of his efforts in the music industry and his sense of hometown pride,” said Harty.
Coming back to Loogootee to promote an album is something that Young and many of those who knew him growing up never would have expected.
”When I was little, I went to 13 different elementary schools. Mostly because we moved around a lot,” said Young. Luckily, when he was in the fifth grade, his grandmother took him in. “Prior to that, my home life was not very good and I was getting in lot of fights but my fifth grade teacher, Ron Gilbert (at Loogootee), showed compassion I hadn’t witnessed before.”
By the time he was in junior high, Young was on the verge of being sent to boys school for fighting and other bad behaviors. “I was a malicious kid who was acting out on what was going on at home.” Fortunately, a trip to boys school was not in the cards and his grandmother stepped in and took him for the summer. The next fall, he was enrolled in an Evansville school, but got into a fight and returned to Martin Co.
”When I came back to school there (Loogootee), I just didn’t know how to respond. It was just so different than any other place I’d lived. You stick to what you know. I didn’t know how to be like the other kids and I wanted to stand out more and I was trying to be my own individual.
Young said he felt like an outcast and managed to get in with the wrong crowd. “I’d get in fights because the kids would make fun of me. When you feel like an outcast, people are often not afraid to make you feel even more like one and I was acting out.”
Eventually, Young slowly began change some of his ways. “There wasn’t a radio station I could get that had rap. All I could get was WWBL and some cheesy pop station. I was so used to having sound to fall asleep to and I couldn’t stand pop so I’d fall asleep listening to classic country like Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and George Jones.”
Young said when his grandmother was driving him to school, she would listen to a country station and he would sing along to the majority of the songs played. “Here I was this kid wearing sagging pants and a backwards baseball cap singing “Folsom Prison”. It was the stories behind the music and these guys were telling me how they had their heart broke and had dealt with disappointment and I could relate.”
A “straight F” student, Young had never taken an interest in school until he was 17 and a girl close to his age was killed in a car accident. “Up until that point I thought I was invincible. I didn’t care about anything. I realized quickly that I needed to make a change and I cleaned up and lost the gangster look.”
During a government class his senior year, Young played a mock defense attorney as part of a class project. After the mock trial, a local judge asked Young if he had ever considered becoming a lawyer.
He enrolled in Vincennes University where he active in the fraternity Sigmi Pi and was the recipient of the Pace Maker Paddle award, one of the highest honors awarded to students at the university. Young is a fraternity brother with country music artist Tracey Lawrence and former politician and business owner John Gregg.
“Jackson and I belong to the same college fraternity and we have kept in touch as he had climbed the ladder of entertainment success. I’m proud to see a fellow local area resident from southern Indiana make his mark in the music industry in Nashville and beyond,” said Gregg.
After VU, he went on to Indiana State University but when 9/11 happened he felt it was his duty to help defend his country and Young joined the military.
His time in the military gave him a lot time to reflect on his life. “I got stationed at Fort Campbell and my buddies took me down to Nashville to do karaoke to try to cheer me up. That was the first time I’d ever done karaoke and after that I was pegged the singer of the group and that really got me to consider the whole music thing. It was like therapy to me and I became addicted to that feeling and I started writing.”
Young’s singing caught so much attention that he was asked to sing the change of command for the base general. It wasn’t long before his family caught on to his talents either and registered him to compete in a local contest against a guy with a recording contract. “I thought, there’s no way I’m gonna win this but I did.”
But struggles plagued the singer. “I found a local studio and cut some songs. I had found someone to invest in me and my music and when I finished the album, I headed off to Nashville. The master recording of the album was a disaster and I thought I could just fix it once I got to Nashville but that just wasn’t the case. The hard drive the the recording on was blank. At that point, I felt like my music career was over before it even started. I was disgusted with myself and after that I didn’t think about music for a couple of years. I was done with it all.”
While his music career was sidelined, Young’s personal life was also taking a taking a a turn for the worse. “My friends starting taking me out again to cheer me up and that’s when the music thing came back to me and I started writing again.
Young was able to get a recording contract with Platinum Planet Music and starting writing songs. “There was a song another guy was writing and I wanted to write with him. He never followed up and Jake (Holiday) didn’t want in on the song. So I wrote a song called “Country”. I hadn’t thought about Martin Co. for quite awhile but at that moment when I was trying to think about what country meant, I had all these pictures of Martin Co. They were pictures of my friends and my grand-dad. Every single word was about Martin Co. and was autobiographical, even the part about the red-bone blood hound.”
Since then he has caught the attention of many music legends in Johnny Neel of Allman Brother’s fame. “The “Let it Ride” album is one of my favorites. I love the spirit of this record. I love Jackson Young’s soul and his vision. So ya’ll need to get behind him and Let it ride out of the record stores , let it ride into your cd players and let it ride into the future,” said Neal.
For more information on Young’s music, visit www.jacksonyoungcountry.com or find him on Facebook.