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Katie Jackson Interview

Powerhouse singer and Baltimore, Maryland resident Katie Jackson is very highly regarded in the House of God, Keith Dominion.  Known as “the Mahalia Jackson (no relation) of the House of God,” she enjoys a reputation as a vocalist whose passionate delivery never fails to move a congregation.   Born in Columbus, Georgia, she is “Little Richard” Penniman’s first cousin.  “He was something else when we were growing up,” she recalled.  She moved to Baltimore in 1958 to sing lead with the Baltimore Echoes, a popular large gospel group.  She recorded and toured the United States and Europe with the Campbell Brothers for several years. 

– Robert L. Stone

The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive: Katie Jackson Interview

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  • The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive: Katie Jackson Interview 00:00
Interviewee: Katie Jackson
Interviewer: Robert Stone
Date: 10/1/1997
Location: phone interview
Language: English

For the archive overview:
The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission. info@arhoolie.org

Katie Jackson Interview Transcript:

Robert Stone:

So I’m talking to Katie Jackson. Katie, can you tell me when and where you were born for starters?

Katie Jackson:

I was born in Columbus, Georgia.

Robert Stone:

Columbus, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Katie Jackson:

Like a hundred miles from Atlanta, Georgia.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Katie Jackson:

90 miles from Macon.

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), and can you give me your date of birth?

Katie Jackson:

You want me to give you my date of birth?

Robert Stone:

Yeah. If you don’t mind, just for the record.

Katie Jackson:

Oh my goodness. Do you really want me to? I don’t want to give you my age.

Robert Stone:

Okay.

Katie Jackson:

Can’t give that out.

Robert Stone:

How about your birthday?

Katie Jackson:

Well, one thing I can say this, I’m not 16.

Robert Stone:

Neither am I. What day were you born on though?

Katie Jackson:

I was born in August-

Robert Stone:

August, okay.

Katie Jackson:

August 5th.

Robert Stone:

August 5th, okay, in Columbus, Georgia? How about your parents, what were their names?

Katie Jackson:

My mother’s name was Ella and my father’s name was Willie. And they were religious people.

Robert Stone:

Well, that’s the next question. How about the Keith Dominion, were you raised up in the Keith Dominion from beginning or?

Katie Jackson:

No, I wasn’t always in the Keith Dominion. I joined the Keith Dominion, I’ve been in that organization for, oh, I know it’s been over 30 years.

Robert Stone:

Okay. Speak up now.

Katie Jackson:

Can you hear me?

Robert Stone:

For over 30 years?

Katie Jackson:

30 years.

Robert Stone:

Now, was that, when did you move to Baltimore?

Katie Jackson:

I moved to Baltimore in 1958.

Robert Stone:

So that was not with your family, that was as an adult?

Katie Jackson:

Yes, I was an adult. I came here to sing with a Baltimore group. They needed a lead singer. And at that particular time, I was, had a little broadcast in Columbus for like three years. And when gospel artists would come through, I would like to have them on the show.

Robert Stone:

Oh you were a DJ?

Katie Jackson:

I wasn’t a DJ. I just had like a small, maybe 30 minutes, on Sundays.

Robert Stone:

But you were the host.

Katie Jackson:

I was the host.

Robert Stone:

On what station was that, do you remember?

Katie Jackson:

WCLS.

Robert Stone:

WCLS in Columbus?

Katie Jackson:

In Columbus.

Robert Stone:

And about what year was that?

Katie Jackson:

That was like in the year of, like. ’55.

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Katie Jackson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Robert Stone:

And so then you came up to Baltimore?

Katie Jackson:

I came to Baltimore, and did lead for the Baltimore Echoes.

Robert Stone:

The Baltimore Echoes.

Katie Jackson:

The Baltimore Echoes.

Robert Stone:

What kind of group was that?

Katie Jackson:

That was a gospel group.

Robert Stone:

Was it a quartet or?

Katie Jackson:

No, it was a gospel group.

Robert Stone:

Was it a mixed or all male or all female?

Katie Jackson:

It was mixed. You know, women and men.

Robert Stone:

And then when did you join the Keith Dominion? Well, you said about 30 years ago.

Katie Jackson:

About 30 years.

Robert Stone:

So that would be about 1967 or so?

Katie Jackson:

’61.

Robert Stone:

’61. And who was the leader at that time?

Katie Jackson:

The leader at that time was Bishop James Jenkins.

Robert Stone:

Jenkins. You know you’re still, your voice is still coming weak on the meter, if you could just speak up a little more.

Katie Jackson:

Okay. Is that better?

Robert Stone:

Yeah, much better.

Katie Jackson:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Katie Jackson:

Bishop James Jenkins.

Robert Stone:

And what, do you participate in services regularly there in Baltimore?

Katie Jackson:

Oh yes.

Robert Stone:

At which church?

Katie Jackson:

At the House of God Church No. 1, here in Baltimore.

Robert Stone:

Number one.

Katie Jackson:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

And where is that located?

Katie Jackson:

The 2600 block of Polk Street.

Robert Stone:

Polk Street.

Katie Jackson:

In East Baltimore. In the east, north west, you know.

Robert Stone:

And how long have you been there at that church?

Katie Jackson:

I’ve been at this particular church, it was still Keith Dominion, but I’ve been… We moved from West Baltimore, small location to a larger location. I know it’s been almost 20 years.

Robert Stone:

Just going back to Georgia for a minute. How long did you do that radio show?

Katie Jackson:

For about three years.

Robert Stone:

And you say it was a half hour or so?

Katie Jackson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Robert Stone:

On Sunday?

Katie Jackson:

Yes, every Sunday,

Robert Stone:

Sunday morning?

Katie Jackson:

They looked forward to the Katie, I was Jones then, I wasn’t Jackson. Like Katie Jones Inspirational Hour.

Robert Stone:

So how did you get started singing and how did you get started in the radio thing?

Katie Jackson:

Well I was, let’s see. My parents were, my mother was a singer. She wasn’t like an outgoing singer like I am. She kind of sang in the Methodist Church. And my family was just, with the church and just singing along.

Robert Stone:

How about the radio?

Katie Jackson:

Oh, … [inaudible 00:05:16] heard me sing, and in Columbus I used to like help a lot of the ministers there in the city. If they needed a soloist, like in the afternoon or something.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Katie Jackson:

I would always go and sing. And this particular guy from the radio station who was, I can’t think of his name now, he was the owner. And he asked me how would I like… In fact, he, I think they put me on a little record or something. It’s been a long time.

Robert Stone:

You did make a recording, huh?

Katie Jackson:

I can’t even remember now, Katie.

Robert Stone:

You don’t remember the name of the song?

Katie Jackson:

I don’t remember. He asked how would I like to go on the radio? And I said, “Are you talking about me? Radio, I can’t even talk good.” And he said, “Yes.” And he told me to come down and he had an interview and everything. He said, “You talk good enough, yeah.”

Robert Stone:

That’s great.

Katie Jackson:

I would get my records and things that I would play like on a Sunday morning. And people would call in and, oh my goodness.

Robert Stone:

Who were some of the artists that you liked to play back then?

Katie Jackson:

The singers were, back in that time, was the famous Davis Sisters, out of Philadelphia, do you remember?

Robert Stone:

Yeah, yeah. Willie Eason talks about them a lot.

Katie Jackson:

Oh my Lord. Let me see, a little short lady, her name was Edna Gallmon Cooke. She was very popular during that time. And let’s see, who else? The Dixie Hummingbirds.

Robert Stone:

Oh man.

Katie Jackson:

The Dixie Hummingbirds. And I’ll tell you another group who were very popular at that time. They were husband and wife, who were the Consolers.

Robert Stone:

Right. We have been talking to Sullivan Pugh. His wife has died, Iola, she passed.

Katie Jackson:

Sister Pugh passed?

Robert Stone:

Yeah, about three years ago. But Sullivan.

Katie Jackson:

For real.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. He’s doing quite well, but she passed.

Katie Jackson:

Oh my God.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, yeah, I’d say about three or four years ago. Three years ago.

Katie Jackson:

Well they were very popular during those years.

Robert Stone:

They were popular for a long time.

Katie Jackson:

Oh, they were good. They were real anointed singers.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Well, we’ve been working on a documentary video also. Right after we did the recording, that same week we went South and did some video. We did a video to service down at Glenn Lee’s church down in Perrine. And also videoed Aubrey Ghent, Aubrey and Lori, and Willie Eason and Sullivan Pugh.

Katie Jackson:

Oh, okay.

Robert Stone:

So he’s still around and still really rattling the rafters.

Katie Jackson:

Playing guitar?

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Yeah. And see he and Willie go way back.

Katie Jackson:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

But did you know, were you aware of Willie Eason, did you run into him?

Katie Jackson:

If I ran into to Willie Eason, it wasn’t that long, I can’t even remember what he looks like really.

Robert Stone:

Okay. I was just curious, because he traveled up and down the east coast.

Katie Jackson:

My mind goes back to a bishop-

Robert Stone:

How’s that?

Katie Jackson:

My mind goes back to a bishop by the name of Bishop, J. R. Lockley.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Katie Jackson:

And I think he used to work, play for him.

Robert Stone:

He did, yeah, when he was a teenager.

Katie Jackson:

Okay. So it’s somewhere, if I would see him walk up now, I wouldn’t know him, but I remember the name.

Robert Stone:

Well, you may see him over at Crescent City.

Katie Jackson:

Oh, okay.

Robert Stone:

I think he’s going to come by.

Katie Jackson:

Oh, okay.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. He’s 75 now.

Katie Jackson:

Is he really?

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Katie Jackson:

Oh my goodness.

Robert Stone:

He’s still full of it. He lives right over in St. Petersburg.

Katie Jackson:

Does he?

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Yeah.

Katie Jackson:

Well, let me ask this, how is your wife?

Robert Stone:

She’s fine. She’s fine.

Katie Jackson:

That’s good.

Robert Stone:

And she sends her best to you.

Katie Jackson:

Praise God.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. She won’t be here that weekend of Crescent City thing. She already had plans to visit her niece and grandnephews up in Chicago, so she’s going up there.

Katie Jackson:

Oh, okay. At least she going to get up there before it gets cold.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Katie Jackson:

I had a gentleman used to book me in Chicago every December, and I just couldn’t understand that cold weather.

Robert Stone:

You’re still-

Katie Jackson:

Every December.

Robert Stone:

You’re still a southerner at heart when it comes to that weather, huh?

Katie Jackson:

Oh, I just couldn’t stand it.

Robert Stone:

Oh Lord. So how about, can you, got anything to say about how you see the steel guitar, the role of that instrument in the Keith Dominion? How it’s?

Katie Jackson:

I’ll tell you what, I think everybody looks forward… In the House of God Church, Keith Dominion, they look forward to that Hawaiian guit- steel.

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Katie Jackson:

If you don’t have no steel, I mean, we ain’t got no service.

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), and some churches don’t have it. Yeah.

Katie Jackson:

It just gives you that pick up for what you need in that service. And another thing, it’s different, because most churches have like a piano, or organ, or keyboard or, that’s fine too. But that steel always look like it just tops, you know?

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Katie Jackson:

It just gives you that different feel about the instrument.

Robert Stone:

Right. So you think it makes the House of God’s services distinctive?

Katie Jackson:

Oh, yes it does, yes.

Robert Stone:

Did you run across, cross paths with Henry Nelson a lot over the years?

Katie Jackson:

I’m getting ready to go and visit Henry Nelson.

Robert Stone:

You are? Well please tell him I said hello.

Katie Jackson:

I sure will. I went to New York in the first week in September and I asked his daughter, how was he doing? And then she said he had not been doing too good, but he was better.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Katie Jackson:

And we’re making plans to go see Henry.

Robert Stone:

Well, good. That’s good.

Katie Jackson:

I liked Henry, he could play.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, he’s a great guy.

Katie Jackson:

Like a pattern, young ones coming up saying I want to play like him, you know?

Robert Stone:

Yeah. That one tune that Darick did on the CD, the Campbell Brothers CD?

Katie Jackson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Robert Stone:

That one right at the last, End of My Journey?

Katie Jackson:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

That sounds a lot like Henry Nelson.

Katie Jackson:

Yeah, you’re right.

Robert Stone:

Same sort of approach, yeah.

Katie Jackson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Robert Stone:

I actually, I’m talking like I know what I talk about, but see, I didn’t meet Henry or get to record him until he was already not doing too well. And everybody tells me that I’ve never really heard him, like he was never a 100%

Katie Jackson:

He could play.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, well, he must have, because he certainly was, got around for a long time.

Katie Jackson:

Yes he did, he really did.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Well, we’ve probably talked enough. I hope we can even talk some more when you, if you get down. I hope you do, I’m counting on it.

Katie Jackson:

I am so excited.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Katie Jackson:

And Bob, I certainly appreciate what you’re doing.

Robert Stone:

Well, it’s my pleasure all the way. And we’re not done yet. This might just be just the beginning. Let’s hope this record really goes.

Katie Jackson:

And I’m going to do my best wherever I am.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Okay. Well, great. Well, nice talking to you, Katie. And I’m so glad you got your recordings.

Katie Jackson:

And thank you very much. And we going to get the money together to you.

Robert Stone:

Oh yeah.

Katie Jackson:

All right.

Robert Stone:

Alrighty, take care.

Katie Jackson:

All right. Thanks for the call.

Robert Stone:

You bet.

Katie Jackson:

Bye bye.

Robert Stone:

Bye.

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