Born and raised in rough-and-tumble Phenix City, Alabama, where he still resides today, Ralph “Soul” Jackson” grew up in a musical household. After a childhood spent tinkering with the piano while other boys played ball, Jackson penned an original called “Don’t Tear Yourself Down” during his senior year in high school and sent a demo of it off to Rick Hall in Muscle Shoals. The next thing he knew, Ralph was recording at Hall’s Fame Studio with the same band that backed the likes of Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett and Arthur Conley.
In 1975 he cut a single for Neal Hemphill’s Birmingham-based Black Kat label, “Set Me Free” b/w “Take Me Back.” Considered a “Northern Soul” classic, it has been released on the CD “The Birmingham Sound: The Soul of Neal Hemphill” by Rabbit Factory as well as reissued on a Dusty Groove 45.
“Soul” will be appearing Thursday, July 8th, from 6pm-8pm at the Ogden Museum After Hours in collaboration with the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation for a performance and interview.
Ralph Soul Jackson, Set Me Free