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Fruteland Jackson

Blues musician and music instructor Fruteland Jackson was born Vincent Sherman Chandler on June 9, 1953 in Doddsville, Sunflower County, Mississippi. His maternal family tree can be documented back to 1863. Jackson is the fourth of six children born to John Chandler and Ida B. Collins. His childhood years were spent in Chicago and Mississippi. Jackson was raised in a musical family and was introduced to the guitar at the age of ten but had little interest in studying the instrument. Instead, Jackson played bugle and trombone while in high school. Jackson graduated from high school in 1970 and entered Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois, where he studied music and theater. He later studied vocal performance at Chicago’s Roosevelt University. Jackson then postponed his artistic ambitions to work as a private investigator and with the State of Illinois Department of Human Rights.

In 1980, Jackson moved back to Mississippi, settling in Biloxi. From 1981 to 1985, he owned and operated Camel Seafood Company. Hurricane Elena of 1985 had devastating effects in Mississippi and left Jackson without a business. At this time, he returned to his musical ambitions and immersed himself in study of the guitar and in blues music.

Jackson performs and preserves acoustic blues from both traditional and contemporary styles including field hollers, work songs, Delta blues and Piedmont blues. In 1996, Jackson helped to establish the “Blues In The Schools” program. Jackson’s educational blues programs have been presented at schools and universities throughout the United States. In 1996, Jackson was awarded the Illinois Arts Council Folk/Ethnic Heritage Award. In 2003, he was nominated for the W.C. Handy Award as “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year”, for his album, Blues 2.0. Jackson records for Electro-Fi Records.

Fruteland Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 12, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.064

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/13/2007

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Columbia College Chicago

Roosevelt University

Muhammad University of Islam

Gregory Math & Sci Elem Academy

Hess Upper Grade Center

Manley Career Academy High School

Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Fruteland

Birth City, State, Country

Doddsville

HM ID

JAC23

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

Sponsor

Sharon E. Moore

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Gulf Coast

Favorite Quote

How Do You Know Your Love Be True Unless Your Love Be Tried.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

6/9/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Music instructor and blues musician Fruteland Jackson (1953 - ) is an acoustic guitarist and singer who founded the "Blues in the Schools" program.

Employment

E.V. Allen and Associates

Camel Seafood Company

Self Employed

Howard Johnson's

Boeing Defense, Space & Security (f.k.a. McDonnell Douglas)

Mary Thompson Hospital for Women and Children

State of Illinois, Department of Human Rights

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fruteland Jackson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fruteland Jackson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Fruteland Jackson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Fruteland Jackson describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fruteland Jackson recounts stories of his mother's family in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fruteland Jackson describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fruteland Jackson describes the events that led his parents to move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his early childhood memories, including his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his elementary school education in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fruteland Jackson describes his motivations as a student during elementary school in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fruteland Jackson describes his childhood aspirations and his relationship with his family

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fruteland Jackson describes his time at Lindblom Technical High School and the University of Islam in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Fruteland Jackson explains his choice to leave the Nation of Islam

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fruteland Jackson explains the origin of his name

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fruteland Jackson describes his work in food service and as a private investigator for E.V. Allen and Associates

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his mother's death and his time at Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fruteland Jackson describes his first two marriages

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fruteland Jackson describes his life and his children with his third wife, Jennice Chandler

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fruteland Jackson describes his growth as a guitarist and musician

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his decision to move to Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fruteland Jackson describes setbacks in his work career during the late 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fruteland Jackson explains the events that led him to pursue music as a profession

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fruteland Jackson describes his calling to blues music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fruteland Jackson describes Camel Seafood, the business he ran in Biloxi, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fruteland Jackson describes his inspirations as a blues artist

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fruteland Jackson describes the present and future of the blues genre

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fruteland Jackson talks about getting involved with Blues in the Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fruteland Jackson talks about working with Blues in the Schools to help communities grieve and heal

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Fruteland Jackson describes and demonstrates the difference between Piedmont blues and Delta blues

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fruteland Jackson describes musicians and techniques within the Piedmont blues style

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Fruteland Jackson reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Fruteland Jackson gives advice for people interested in going into blues music

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Fruteland Jackson describes his ambitions for future projects

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Fruteland Jackson reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Fruteland Jackson explains the importance of knowing one's history

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Fruteland Jackson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Fruteland Jackson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Fruteland Jackson describes his calling to blues music
Fruteland Jackson describes musicians and techniques within the Piedmont blues style
Transcript
Why blues?$$The blues found me. I didn't ask for the blues. It hit me like a ton of bricks. When I lived in Mississippi, I start--I listened to a lot of public radio, and I was listening to the blues programs, and somehow, someway, I just became overwhelmed by this music. It just totally took me over. And I--when people ask me today, why blues, I say, "The blues found me." I was walking down the street minding my own business, and all of a sudden, this music started speaking to me. My soul started--. And I didn't know why, you know. That's my parents' music. What am I doing? You know. I didn't pick no cotton. I didn't split no rails. I traded in my hammer for a hundred emails.$$(Laughs.)$$That's a song I wrote. And so I didn't know why. But I said I was gonna learn how to do it. And it was something happening at that point in time in history, because others around my age were doing the same thing and we didn't know each other. Just like with Stonehenge [Wiltshire, England] and the Pyramids [Giza, Egypt] were taking place, they didn't know each other, but they were building these giant monuments, okay. And so there were lots in my age group, and they're like a --(simultaneous)--$$For example?$$There are people like Corey Harris, Guy Davis; these are people who do the exact same thing. Robert Jones [Reverend Robert B. Jones], Rory Block [Aurora 'Rory' Block]. We're all in the same age group. And there's almost a forty-year difference between us and the real old guys who used to do it. I had the pleasure of touring with David 'Honeyboy' Edwards; he's ninety-one. So nobody was picking up this stuff. Everybody wanted to play bands and electric guitars and all this noise. But I had, something was asking me to learn these old styles, listen to cracked-up 78 records: Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, early Muddy Waters; and learn how to play these styles, Piedmont style, ragtime blues. And so, I started learning how to play'em. But you can't keep singing about cotton and corn and make a living. So what I would do was use my personal blues, my life. I can talk about things, like, I was there during Vietnam. I know this. I can talk about my life, and I can use those old rhythms, but I can use them to express more modern concepts.$$Was there any particular incident that happened in your life that made you gravitate to the blues quickly?$$I don't have anything to compare with. And I never had the kind of life--bad things never happened to me, you know. I never got--was seriously hurt or anything, like, really bad stuff ever happened to me. But I did have struggles, but to me I had the same amount of struggles as anybody else; not as bad as some. So I don't know. I wasn't driven there, you know, I got hit by a bus or something--$Tell me a little bit about the Piedmont blues. Is that a very popular style?$$Well, it's popular for people who are really into the blues and listen to acoustic blues. Some of the people that played Piedmont blues was the Rev. Gary Davis, there was Blind Boy Fuller. And Gary Davis was blind. And there was Josh White. It was Sonny Terry [Saunders Terrell] and Brownie McGhee. These--a lot of these are East Coast players.$$Is what you're playing authentic Piedmont?$$Yes, ma'am. And the only thing unauthentic about it is that I'm not from there, you know. And there was John Jackson, who recently passed away, and he was one of the last of the remaining of the real--what we call the real deal of Piedmont style players. It was very difficult for blind people to make a living back then. They didn't have a lot of things that they have right now. So they either were wrestlers, worked at a carnival or they became musicians and street musicians. And a lot of them had very, very unique styles with Piedmont. Even when I write my own songs, sometimes I'll use a Piedmont styling to float my lyrics on.$$Now do you have recordings?$$Yes, I do. I have six recordings in my discography. I'm on the Electro-Fi [Electro-Fi Records] label now, and I just completed my third recording with them. My current CD is entitled 'Blues 2.0.' It was nominated for best acoustic album by the Blues Foundation [Blues Heaven Foundation] for a Handy Award [W. C. Handy Awards], but I didn't win, but I had a chance to wear a tuxedo and eat finger sandwiches.$$(Laughs.)$$And I met Bonnie Raitt. So that's six in one hand, half a dozen in the other.$$Can we just get a little sample of something from your latest project?$$Here we go. All right. One of the places I play it at is on the casino. And I see gamblers come in the door all the time. And they come in wheelchairs, they have oxygen tanks, at fifty-five and (unclear); they love to gamble. So I decided to write a song from a gambler's point of view, okay. And I did it in a Piedmont ragtime style. (Playing guitar and singing 'A Gambler's View.')