Denise Jackson and her country star husband Alan Jackson have one of the most powerful love stories in country music, dating all the way back to a high school courtship. The couple has stuck with each other through thick and thin, acting as role models for how hard you need to work for true love in order to find a happy ending.
It was actually Denise who helped Alan get his start in country music. She ran into Glen Campbell while working as a flight attendant and told him about her musically ambitious husband. The country legend took an interest and helped a young Jackson land a record deal with Arista Records. Through it all — parenthood, country music superstardom and the highs and lows of life — Denise has been right beside the Country Music Hall of Famer every step of the way.
How Did Alan Jackson Meet His Wife?
The couple met when the were both high schoolers in Newnan, Ga. Denise was 16 and the future country superstar was 17.
"Alan was very attractive," Denise told TNN back in 1996. "Very cool guy, had a great car. Pretty much just went out with whoever he chose. I don't know if he just noticed me cheerleading or something like that. I do remember the first time he called me for a date. For some reason I just didn't want to go out with him so I said 'no.'...Probably a couple months after that first telephone conversation he called me back...I don't know what changed, but something changed in me."
When Denise was 18, Alan proposed by giving her a ring at Christmas.
"When he surprised me with that ring on Christmas Eve, 1978, I was stunned," she said. "I remember as I opened the box he said 'Denise will you marry me?'
The high school sweethearts married in their hometown of Newnan, Georgia in 1979 at the Newnan Baptist Church. After six years of marriage, the couple moved to Nashville so that Jackson could pursue his dreams.
In her 2007 book It's All About Him: Finding the Love of My Life, Denise shared that, in 1998, Alan Jackson had an affair, which rocked their marriage. The couple separated for a few months but soon reconciled. The even renewed their vows on their anniversary in December of 1998. They focused on therapy, a strong Christian foundation for their relationship and they bounced back from the painful situation that hurt their family.
"We were just kids when we started out," Jackson tells People. "We didn't ever have the chance to fall in love as adults and to learn who you are before making a commitment. I think we lost some of that original feeling. I did anyway."
It's All About Him: Finding the Love of My Life topped the New York Times bestseller list. Jackson even released a song for the book, "It's All About Him."
"The greatest blessings in my life have come out of my worst shattering," Denise told People in a separate interview discussing her book.
"His betrayal and our separation were what led to this new, passionate love relationship with God and also led to us being able to have the kind of marriage that we both always wanted but just didn't know how to have," Denise Jackson told People. "Couples and especially women can relate to my story - my fears, my insecurities, my self-esteem issues, marital issues that Alan and I had as a result of marrying so young."
The two are now together all the time, taking advantage of the time they have with each other when the country superstar isn't on the road.
Over the course of their nearly 43-year marriage, the couple has supported one another through life's greatest challenges, including Denise's cancer diagnosis in 2010. During her cancer battle, Jackson wrote a song for his wife, who's now cancer free.
My wife went through a tough time with cancer several years ago, and I wrote a song ['When I Saw You Leaving (For Nisey)']," Jackson told Essentials Radio on Apple Music Country (quote via Audacy). "It was almost just something to help me as much as her."
Alan Jackson Kids
The couple has three daughters, Mattie Denise, Dani Grace and Ali.
In 2021, Jackson shared "Racing in the Dark," a song which he wrote with his oldest daughter Mattie. The release of the song coincided with the announcement of Mattie's book Lemons on Friday: Trusting God Through My Greatest Heartbreak, in which she shared how faith pulled her through the 2018 death of her husband, Ben Selecman.
In 2021, Jackson paid tribute to each of his daughters with "You'll Always Be My Baby (Written For Daughters' Weddings)."
In July, it was announced that Jackson would become a grandfather for the first time. Jackson's daughter Ali and her husband Sam Bradshaw are expecting a baby boy.
This article was originally published in May of 2019. It was updated on Nov. 9, 2022.
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