Without her, there wouldn’t have been an Alan. Without her love and support, there wouldn’t have been an Alan Jackson. “Mama Ruth” died peacefully, Saturday morning (Jan. 7) in her home at 86-years-old.
A native of Lowell, Georgia, Ruth Musick married her sweetheart at just 16-years-old. The marriage of “Mama Ruth” and Joseph Eugene “Daddy Gene” Jackson was true “till death do us part.” It also produced five children: Diane, Cathy, Carol, Connie, and Alan. She is survived by all five, as well as by 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. In January of 2000, “Daddy Gene” preceded her in death.
She was the inspiration behind much of the music his fans love most.
Jackson told the story of his parent’s marriage in the song “Home.” The lyrics paint it well:
“My mama raised five children, four girls and there was me. She found her strength in God and a love of family. She never had a social life; home was all she knows, except the time she took a job to pay a pill or two.”
It isn’t the first time that his memories of childhood inspired his music.
Jackson’s gospel album, Precious Memories, was a Mother’s Day gift to Mama Ruth that he didn’t intend to publish as a commercial release. He also created his second Christmas album, Let It Be Christmas, at his mother’s wishes; she wanted him to sing some traditional Christmas classics.
Her image was public, as was her love for her son. She made appearances at award shows and events, and his fans grew to know her. She didn’t shirk the role. In fact, she often invited fans to take pictures on her porch or offered a glass of iced tea.
An Enduring Legacy
The experiences of childhood and love between Alan and his parents are apparent in Jackson’s music. Also evident are other realities of his journey, including his marital struggles and parenting his daughters. It is perhaps what makes his music so loved and so endearing: it is the actual stuff of life, and we relate to it.
Or maybe it just makes us wish for the childhood he had.