January 22, 2019 Artist to Watch: Rod Jackson


Rod Jackson

Not All Quitting is Bad

Rod Jackson is a humble person, who doesn’t love to boast about his talents. What he does enjoy is music. He’s been steeped in it since he was born and travels the country playing saxophone with bands like Universal Language and The Michael Foster Project. The origin of how he came to pick up his instrument of choice is a funny one though; which goes to show that the end result of quitting isn’t always bad. Sometimes when one casts aside something they don’t have an aptitude for, it leaves the door open for another person to pick it up and live their best life.

Have you always been interested in music?

Yes I honestly have. I’ve been surrounded by it in one form or another all my life. I’m from a musical family. My mother was lead singer in a gospel quartet comprised of her and her sisters. My father was also member of a gospel group.  My sister is a gospel recording artist and Minister. My cousins, aunt's and uncles are musicians and singers as well.  Music is in my DNA.

Did you play as a kid?

Yes. I started playing at 8 years old. My older sister wanted to learn to play piano so my parents bought an upright piano for the house and enrolled her in lessons. Well she soon got bored with the lessons and quit.  Since there was a piano in the house collecting dust, I started tinkering around with it and soon started teaching myself to play popular songs. That's where the love for playing music started.

Who were you influenced by when you were young?

My biggest life influence were my parents.  I wouldn't be the person I am without them.  Musically? I was always the biggest Stevie Wonder fan.... still am! As a teenager, while my friends were listening to the latest R&B or Hip Hop music, I was listening to Living for the City, Master Blaster or Sir Duke. His music has always moved me.

Did you pursue any formal training?

I did! As I stated earlier, my sister quit piano lessons then I took interest in the piano and enrolled in lessons. The same thing happened in middle school. My older sister wanted to play sax in the band then she quit.  So when I got to middle school, since we already had a saxophone collecting dust at the house, I started playing in the school band.... Fast forward years later and I travel all over the world playing sax!!!   Side note: Shout out to my older sister Sheree for being a quitter!!!  I would not be the musician I am if not for you!!!  Then I studied Music Education at Southern University where Saxophone became my primary instrument. The rest is history.

Where do you look for inspiration now?  

I don’t actively look for inspiration but I find it in many things, people and places.  My biggest inspiration and motivation is my 9 year old son Gavin.

What do you think of the resources available in the Baton Rouge area? 

There are wonderful sources for music and the arts in Baton Rouge. I think we need to continue working to build and grow the culture by supporting our local artists.

Where can people see your work online and in person?

I'm a member of several amazing groups: The Michael Foster Project *Instagram @themichaelfosterproject this is an amazing brass band with a diverse repertoire of music. 

I have my own band Universal Language *Instagram @universsllanguageband which is comprised of just about every kind of artist you can think of.  We even have a DJ in the band! I toured with Grammy nominated, Baton Rouge blues artist Kenny Neal and Universal Language performed on the main stage during Essence Fest 2017.

I also play in New Orleans with an amazing group called The Kevin Gullage Band.  A blues based band that is so much more! @kevin_gullage