Rev. Charlie Jackson, R.I.P.

Rev. Charlie Jackson.jpg
"In the middle of the ocean/In the middle of the night/We'll keep on fighting/Until we bring daylight," sang gospel electric guitarist Charlie Jackson on his old '70s Booker single "Something to Think About" (audio here), a lonely call for solidarity in the violent wilderness of the American South--and one of the best songs ever recorded about the Civil Rights Movement (others here). Jackson died on Monday in Baker, Louisiana (here's today's obituary in the Advocate); he was 73. The above song and others were collected three years ago on a wonderful CaseQuarter Records CD titled God's Got It (scroll down), a well-reviewed document that made many Top Tens and still astounds on 50th listen. (Buy it here, here, or here.) What follows is an open email from Kevin Nutt at CaseQuarter...

It is with great sadness that we here at CaseQuarter Records must convey the news that Bishop Charlie Jackson of Baker, Louisiana has passed away. Bishop Jackson, known to many blues, gospel and music lovers in the wider world as the Reverend Charlie Jackson, died in his sleep at a local Baker, Louisiana nursing home early Monday morning Febuary 13th. Reverend Jackson had been confined to the 24 hour care facility since the spring of 2005 after suffering the latest in a series of lifelong strokes. His wife, Laura Davis Jackson, said that Reverend Jackson had been unable to recognize anyone since his admittance and his health had steadily declined.

For anyone reading this, Reverend Jackson's music needs no introduction or reminders. Along with Elder Utah Smith, Jackson was one of few of the widespread guitar slinging gospel preachers to actually record commercial records and it is such a treasure, especially now, that we have his unique testaments. I still savor the moment when I first heard Chris Smith's and Lynn Abbott's cassette of Reverend Jackson's music. It's a cliche but nonetheless too true: it literally changed my life.

Not suprisingly, Reverend Jackson in person was even more impressive than his music. On the occasions that I visited him I was
overwhelmed with his perpetual warm heartedness and enthusisam. It was such a delight to be with him and his wife Laura.

There are many poignant and moving moments in Reverend Jackson's music but the one I've been returning to these past couple of days is "The Testimony of Reverend Charlie Jackson." "When I couldn't speak nothing, I let the guitar do it," he says in the song. And then he plays the old hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" on his guitar:

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer

There will be a visitation and service on Friday February 17th at the Hall Celebration Center in Baton Rouge from 5- 7PM for the visitation and 7-9PM for the service. Funeral sevices will be at Jackson's home church, Brown Chapel Baptist Church, in McComb, Mississippi on Saturday February 18th at 2PM. Flowers can be sent to the Hall Celebration Center through Heroman's Florist. www.heromans.com As of this writing there is no information on donations. Please email me if you need further information on this as it becomes available.

Kevin Nutt
CaseQuarter Records

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