On a white board at WBOJ The Truth, Heath Jackson wrote “I love my job.” The message remains.
It reminds Brian Hite, the station’s general manager, of what his friend was about.
“With Heath, he really meant it. We knew each other through here, and we’d become really close,” Hite said. “We were always pushing each other. I miss that.”
Jackson was the morning DJ at the station.
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A concert Sunday at Calvary Baptist Church featuring Dave Barnes will celebrate the young musician. It’s also a fundraiser for The Truth, a station that went nonprofit and moved to a new signal two years ago. Because of a sponsorship that’s bringing Barnes, all proceeds will go to the station.
Heath Jackson was 25 when he died tragically on Sept. 7. After encountering an intruder in his Carter Avenue home, he was shot and killed. He died in his driveway. A concert featuring Barnes was scheduled for Sept. 10 but had to be canceled because of Jackson’s death. It turns out his funeral was that day.
Ricardo J. Strozier has been charged with the crime and remains in custody.
A Mississippi native, 32-year-old Barnes lives in Nashville. He’s a rock-R&B singer-songwriter. Luminaries such as Bonnie Raitt, Vince Gill and Marc Cohn, among others, have praised his work. He’s opened for John Mayer and Taylor Swift. To date, his four LP albums are “Brother, Bring the Sun,” “Chasing Mississippi,” “Me and You and the World” and “What We Want, What We Get.”
126F0600Outside the music scene, Barnes has performed stand-up comedy, and supports MochaClub, which aids Africa. In June, he appeared in an episode of “All My Children” in which he sang one of his hits.
Heath Jackson was a fan and helped secure him for the September concert.
Hite said Jackson, himself a singer and guitarist, had been playing secular gigs but had recently expanded his reach into churches and church groups. One was for Camp Joy in Harris County for underprivileged children.
Local acts who performed with Jackson, or knew him well, will fill the first half of the Sunday concert. After an intermission, Barnes will come on. If someone walks in off the street Sunday, having been a stranger to Jackson, he or she should get a good picture of him, Hite said.
“I think what people will take away from it is anyone has the ability impact a city. People really felt loved by him,” Hite said. “He always made you feel loved when you were with him.”
Angi Idel, the principal of Allen Elementary School, knew this. She’s his mother.
“I miss everything about Heath -- his wit, his smile,” she said.
He knew how to swim when he was 2, she said. In a photo, he’s standing confidently by his grandmother’s pool in his Power Ranger underwear.
As he grew, he seemed to connect with another world, Idel said.
“He was so in tune with spiritual things. He sensed evil,” Idel said. “As a child, he was afraid a lot, and I’d go in his room and we’d pray, pray, pray.
“He was such a little humble thing. He was always making sure the glory went to God. There are days I wake up and think it’s not real.”
Idel will sing Sunday, as well.
One of their last conversations about spiritual things was Aug. 31. He had come by Allen Elementary and told her he wanted to go to seminary. She told him the Lord would provide a way. They both agreed “we’ve all got to get closer to God. It was a wonderful visit.” She remembers he wore a Country’s Barbecue T-shirt. She bragged on him in front of the school children, calling him her baby.
“I know my baby’s in heaven, and I’m going to work every day to make sure I get there, too. God is being merciful to this grieving mother.”
She was in a bookstore recently when she heard a woman say she’d seen Heath the day he was killed. The woman didn’t know, until later in the conversation, that Idel was his mother. The woman described meeting a happy young man. Angi Idel craves stories like that.
Her mission now is to tell parents -- remind parents -- that their children are gifts and not possessions.
“I tell parents: ‘Our children are on loan to us,’ ” she said.
Jackson was born March 19, 1985, in Columbus. In addition to his mother, he is survived by his father, John David Jackson of Columbus, and siblings Hannah Elizabeth Jackson and John Hunter Jackson. Both live in Columbus.
Heath Jackson was a member of Evangel Temple Assembly of God.
Allison Kennedy, reporter, can be reached at 706-576-6237