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Jonesboro’s Cory Jackson
Takes Center Stage

By Cody Moore, photography by Melissa Donner

Just four years after beginning his music career, Jonesboro native Cory Jackson has already achieved numerous musical accomplishments. One of his latest triumphs includes being a contestant on the current season of NBC’s singing competition, “The Voice.”

Though the Northeast Arkansas community is likely to have heard or seen Jackson on a local stage or music festival, that isn’t exactly where he pictured himself in the beginning. Jackson graduated from Arkansas State University in 2016 with a degree in occupational therapy, his initial passion.

“It was not my plan all along to work in the music industry,” said Jackson. “I really feel that it is a God thing that has led me down this path. At first, I actually wanted to go to college and then medical school to be an ophthalmologist.

“Things changed when I got to college and fell in love with occupational therapy; yet, I still could not get my heart off of music.”
Jackson’s love for music began in junior high when his late grandfather, Hurshel Whitehurst, suggested that he begin playing guitar, along with songwriting.

“When I was a junior in high school, my grandpa was picking around at home on his guitar when I went to visit him,” said Jackson. “He then began to tell me that he would really like me to pick up the guitar and play with him. I told him that if I was to play, I wanted him to help me pick out my first guitar. That conversation led to just that.

“Unfortunately, he passed away around five months after that, and I haven’t been able to put music on the back burner ever since. Every time I play, I think of him.”

Throughout high school and college, Jackson continued to perfect his guitar playing and songwriting. Though he had not penned his own music just yet, Jackson found himself songwriting for other artists.

Fast-forward to 2015, when Jackson would go on to release his self-titled EP, while also receiving a top-five self-produced video achievement with a Snag-A-Job online promotion for his original song, “Sun Kissed Lips.” That was followed by the release of “Row by Row” in 2017, and “Feel Good Happenin’” in 2018.

“The song ‘Row by Row’ that I co-wrote with my buddy, Matt Thomas, is a personal favorite of mine,” said Jackson. “I just feel that it fits the lifestyle of a farmer so perfectly. It was such a fun experience writing this song with Matt, too, and just seeing how it all came together as well as it did.”

Pulling most of his musical inspiration from artists like George Strait, Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw, Jackson describes his music as a mix of both classic country and modern country. His electric stage presence and relatable lyrics have accumulated Jackson a large fanbase throughout the past several years.

Whether he’s performing at a local venue or being named Country Artist of the Year at the Arkansas Country Music Awards, Jackson continues to remain humble about his accomplishments.

“Winning Country Artist of the Year at the 2018 Arkansas Country Music Awards has been one of the most amazing accomplishments so far,” said Jackson. “I truly owe that to my fans. … I could not do it without their belief in what I am doing. It truly is things just like that happening that makes me want to work even harder for my fans.”

After years of hard work, Jackson came upon an amazing opportunity that he could not pass up. NBC’s “The Voice,” a popular American singing competition, announced that it would be holding open call auditions in Nashville, and Jackson’s family encouraged him to audition.

After making it through the audition process, Jackson got the call that he would need to fly to Los Angeles in order to film for the show. The show’s panel of judges include artists Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend, who choose specific contestants to represent them on their teams for the show.

Jackson chose to be a part of country superstar Blake Shelton’s team after Shelton expressed interested in Jackson’s musical abilities by turning his chair for Jackson during the show’s televised blind auditions.

“It felt so amazing when Blake turned his chair for me,” said Jackson. “It really felt amazing to have Gwen and Kelly turn, as well.
“Blake has exactly what I am shooting for in the music industry. I felt like when it came down to it, he would make the perfect coach for me.”

Last month, Jackson was working closely with Shelton for the show’s anticipated “Battle Rounds” episodes, which he says made him a better artist.

“I think ‘The Voice’ will better me as an artist just by the things I have and will learn from just being on the show,” said Jackson. “I think the biggest thing I can take away and put in my artistry is being my true self and putting that in my music, as well.”
Though Jackson was voted off of “The Voice” after his battle round episode last month, his hometown and loyal fanbase has continued to lift his spirit and keep him positive as he continues his musical journey.

“I cannot thank the Jonesboro community enough for all the love, support and encouragement they are not only showing me now but have continuously shown me since I have started chasing my dreams in the music industry,” said Jackson. “I am so thankful for that and am truly honored.”

As for Jackson’s future in the music industry, he has plans to remain positive and continue his musical hustle in order to make his family, fans, hometown and himself proud.

“I believe the future holds great things,” said Jackson. “I have been songwriting a ton, so I am very excited about what’s to come. I know there is still a lot of hard work ahead to get to where I want to be as a well-known artist. It’s going to be a wild and fun ride, and no matter what happens, this is just the beginning.”

To follow Jackson’s journey, keep up with announcements or to view upcoming tour dates, find him on Instagram @coryjacksonmusic or visit coryjacksonmusic.com.