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It’s a Family Affair for Alan Jackson

The country legend sings tributes to his dad and daughter at the 2021 ACM Awards

Alan Jackson performing at the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards. | Photo Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

Ahead of the release of his first studio album in six years, 15-time Academy of Country Music Award winner Alan Jackson took to the stage to perform “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” and “You’ll Always Be My Baby” at the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards in Nashville.

The performance was adorably backed with family photos, including his wife of 42 years and high school sweetheart Denise. It was emotional from start to finish and showed how Jackson is still a driving force in the country music industry.

While it seems like just yesterday Jackson released “Drive (For Daddy Gene),” it has been almost 20 years. The song is a tribute to his father Eugene “Gene” Jackson who passed away in January of 2000. In the song, he reminisces about learning to drive with his dad and later teaching his daughters how to drive in his jeep on their pasture.

Fifteen years after the song’s 2002 release – in 2017, his oldest daughter Mattie was getting married, and he wrote: “You’ll Always Be My Baby” to play at her wedding. Now, he finally released a studio recording of the song, which appears on his new album Where Have You Gone that drops on May 14.

“Seems like yesterday you were just a girl,” Jackson sings. “Now you’re a woman on your own all in love and nearly gone, but you’ll always be my baby.”

Unfortunately, just a year after Mattie’s wedding, her husband Ben Selecman died on Sept. 12, 2018, after sustaining a traumatic head injury from falling off a boat in West Palm Beach, FL.

However, the performance is a full-circle moment for Jackson who won his first ACM 31 years ago – which just so happens to be the same year that Mattie was born.

Alan Jackson and his family (L-R) Ben Selecman, Mattie Jackson, Dani Jackson, Denise Jackson, and Alexandra Jackson in 2017 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. | Photo Credit: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum

His album Drive, which features the title song, also includes his reaction to the September 11th terrorist attacks, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).” The song, which came out just over two months after the attacks and turns 20 this year, became one of the defining songs about the attacks.

“I was very disturbed and touched by that day, and everything that surrounded it,” Jackson said in an interview with Country Weekly at the time. “I’ve always been really careful about writing or recording ‘preachy’ songs, and I didn’t want it to look like I was taking advantage of the situation for my own career or something. I never wanted it to come across that way.”

Watch his interview below with the Country Music Association about playing the song live for the first time at the 2001 Country Music Association Awards.

It’s hard to believe just how much time has passed, but we are excited to have Jackson back. Are you ready for the release of his new album? Leave a comment below or tweet us at @CS_Country.

Written by Kevin Studer

Kevin (he/him) is a two-time graduate of Lynn University and has a Creative Writing Master's from American College Dublin. When not writing about pop culture, he is constantly opening his worldview by consuming different types of media and traveling around the globe.

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