Alan Jackson stepped on to the stage of the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum last night to play his last of two sold-out Artist-In-Residence performances. Jackson’s residency coincides with the new exhibition Alan Jackson: 25 Years of Keepin’ It Country, running through March 2015, making him the first simultaneous artist-in-residence and major museum exhibit subject.
Jackson humbly referred to the residency honor, saying:
“The Hall of Fame was so nice to do this exhibit and to make me an artist-in-residence. It’s a great honor. This place has all that history in there, and all those great artists.” Then, cracking a smile, he added, “But the residence thing, I’m not sure I understand what that means. I haven’t seen my room yet.”
Alan Jackson ditched his normal set list for the second concert of two concerts as the 2014 artist-in-residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Instead, he took the sold-out crowd on a journey through his career reminiscing about his family, his roots in Newnan, Georgia, his early years in Nashville, and his climb to stardom—just as he had at the first artist-in-residence concert two weeks earlier.
The performance, opening with “Gone Country,” featured thirty songs and clocked in at two hours and twenty minutes. Jackson performed part of the John Conlee classic “Rose Colored Glasses,” indicating to the crowd that was the first song he ever played on stage after arriving in Nashville. He went on to perform songs he doesn’t play very often including “I’d Love You All Over Again,” from his double-platinum debut album Here In The World. The award-winning songwriter also performed many of his 35 number one hits including “Wanted,” “Midnight In Montgomery,” “Here In The Real World,” “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow,” “Remember When,” “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” and “Chattahoochie” and more.
Jackson took advantage of playing the intimate theater, where the crowd count was in three figures, as opposed to his usual audience of tens of thousands. He sat on his stool as he spun folksy tales about his parents, his wife Denise (who was in attendance), and other family members.
Jackson noted that he and Denise will celebrate their thirty-fifth anniversary in 2014. He regularly credited his wife for supporting the couple in the years when the singer-songwriter struggled to get established as a country music artist.
Jackson left the stage and came back for an encore and surprised, not only the fans in attendance but his own band and wife Denise coming out dressed as retro Alan Jackson from 25 years ago. The crowd was on their feet as “retro” Alan circled the stage signing autographs for the fans before launching in to more hits “Mercury Blues,” “Dixie Highway,” and he ended the special night sitting down on a stool to perform an emotional song he wrote for a close family friend who passed away “Sissy’s Song.”
Established in 2003, the museum’s artist-in-residence program annually honors a musical master who can be credited with contributing a large and significant body of work to the canon of American popular music. Honorees are given the stage as a blank canvas and are encouraged to lend their own creative brushstrokes to an up-close-and-personal musical experience. Previous artist-in-residence honorees include Cowboy Jack Clement, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill, Buddy Miller, Connie Smith, Kenny Rogers, and Ricky Skaggs
Jackson has earned his place in such stellar company. Since signing his record deal in June 1989, he has sold nearly sixty million albums worldwide and ranks as one of the ten best-selling country artists of all-time. He has registered fifty Top Ten hits and won eighteen Academy of Country Music awards, sixteen Country Music Association awards, a pair of Grammys, and ASCAP’s Founders and Golden Note Awards. He is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry