In the two years following the release of his debut album Greenbroke, Jackson Dean has been on one hell of a rise. The 22-year-old Maryland native's rowdy song "Don't Come Lookin'" became the fastest debut to hit No. 1 in 2022. He's been named among Spotify's 2023 Hot Country Artists to Watch and a member of CMT's Listen Up Class of 2023 and Amazon Music's 2023 Breakthrough Artists to Watch. Last month, Dean accomplished another first: an ACM nomination for New Male Artist of the Year (Zach Bryan was named the winner in the category on May 10).
On top of all that, the singer-songwriter hit the road with country superstar Blake Shelton ("I watched a lot of shows from front of house and to get to watch him work a mic in real time....it was awesome to sit there and watch him. He ain't up there faking it," Dean says of the "God's Country" singer) and will join Parker McCollum and Eric Church on tour later this year.
But perhaps the most unexpected career win was watching Kelly Clarkson sing his hit song "Don't Come Lookin'" on The Kelly Clarkson Show. After all, it's not every day that a Grammy-winning vocalist covers your song on national television. Even more surprising? Dean had no idea it was happening until after Clarkson's performance aired.
"They didn't tell anybody. I had no idea," Dean tells Wide Open Country. "I was on a big travel day, as usual, and I had a layover somewhere and I was headed back to Nashville and I was getting in at like 7. Before I take off [my manager] texts me and he goes 'Oh, Kelly Clarkson played ['Don't Come Lookin']. And I was like, what? And then no service...We land... sit down, pour a drink, and we go 'oh sh*t!' We pull [the video] up and my God, they killed it."
Just a few weeks later, Dean performed his song "Fearless" on Clarkson's talk show.
"Don't Come Lookin'," which was previously featured on an episode of Yellowstone, was actually inspired by something Dean frequently said to his mom.
"My mother and I just like to be smart asses back to back and forth to each other. I grew up right on the edge of a whole bunch of state lane... it was all silt, marsh land...but I used to crawl up in there for a couple days at a time. There ain't nobody back there. To get in there, you have to want to get into somewhere nobody's seen in 80 to 100 years. So I used to go running around in there all the time. It picked up when I first got my license and a Bronco and all that. I would leave the house and she would say, 'Stay alive. No matter what occurs, I'll find you.' Eventually somewhere around the age of 11 or 12, I just started saying, 'Mama, if I don't come back, don't come looking for me.' It's just a thing between me and my mom."
Jackson Dean will perform at CMA Fest this June. For a full list of tour dates, visit here.
READ MORE: Rooted in Country: Jackson Dean on Eric Church's 'Lightning'
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