Heritage Award Recipient Henry Japheth Jackson, Ozark
African American Sacred Harp Singing


Henry Japheth Jackson  1988

Japheth JacksonHenry Japheth Jackson (1916-2010) of Ozark was a leader in the African-American Sacred Harp community of Southeast Alabama. He is the son of the famous Judge Jackson who authored The Colored Sacred Harp (1936) and was taught the art form by his father. Mr. Jackson recalls the family gathering in the kitchen to sing Sacred Harp music. Mr. Jackson who is a natural bass was asked to sing tenor by his father and this furthered his understanding of the music and its structure. In the 1960's, Mr. Jackson was contacted by folklorist Joe Dan Boyd who was researching his father's book. Boyd's research brought the small group of singers to the attention of other folklorists at the Smithsonian Institution and an invitation to perform at the Festival of American Folklife in 1970. Since then, the Wiregrass Sacred Harp Singers have performed all over the United States.

In recent years, he carried on the work of his father, including three reprints of his fathers hymnal. Along with elder statesman Dewey Williams, Mr. Jackson is responsible for keeping this community tradition alive through singing schools, as well as radio and TV programs.

Click >here to listen to an Alabama Folkways Radio Series program that includes an interview Mr. Jackson.