I know we’re always saying, “Just sing the song the way it was written”, but this kid did a damn awesome rendition. I actually got, ya know, something in my eye— *eh-hemmm*.
Jackson Dean Nicholson, publicly, doesn’t use his last name. “Jack Nicholson” is taken. “Jackson Nicholson” is a mouthful, not to mention he found another musician already using it, a heavy-metal artist jamming in his room.
And Arundel’s “Jackson Dean” is anything but that.
He grew up on classic rock and country, a dead-end road with nothing but a gun-range and a swamp behind him.
“Spent more time in the woods than with actual people,” Nicholson said. “I was always drawn to music.”
It was there he eventually learned to play country music. His career first bud in his freshman year and now, as a senior, it’s blossoming.
Over a span of a little over three days, “Jackson Dean” became a national name.
Nicholson, a defensive end for Arundel football, stood before a microphone and a crowd of Wildcats parents and fans Friday before the team’s tilt against Chesapeake. It was the second time he’d played before a football crowd.
“I’m not really nervous when I have to sing in front of people. First five times you do it, the butterflies just go away. It’s all good after that,” Nicholson said. “We knew we were going to videotape it, and I think I was more anxious about that.”
The senior’s version of the anthem fits seamlessly into his entire brand of music. It’s smoky, more folksy and slow. He doesn’t want it to sound at all like the mainstream top 10 that cycles on country radio.
Internet fame isn’t Nicholson’s biggest platform to date either, although it’s close. He’s collaborated with producer Frank Green and already worked on a record, splitting time in Baltimore and Nashville studios, and has performed on stages in both cities as well.
“But that was … it was something people don’t normally get,” Nicholson said. “It was very cool. I probably knew 90 percent of the people sitting in those stands, and they had no idea I was doing it ‘til I brought my guitar out.”
Arundel (7-1) is playoffs-bound and in good standing after bringing down a formidable team. But for Nicholson, he’s adamantly certain this fall will be his last season with football. He’s not aiming to play ball in college; he’s not even planning for college.
“This is my last year, then I’m done. I’ve got until January, I’ll have all my credits done, and I only have to be enrolled for this semester,” he said. “I got a waive by my principal and she’s very supportive of what I do.
“I’m going to go for it.”
Nicholson has a blueprint laid out down in Nashville, as well as a few fruitful meetings he can’t disclose, though the thought of them spreads a smile across his face…
Keep an eye on this young man.