Jason Isbell is an American musician who sings, writes songs, and plays the guitar. He is best-known for his solo career, much of which has seen him working with the band called The 400 Unit. However, Jason Isbell has been associated with other artists such as Amanda Shires and Drive-By Truckers as well. On the whole, he has been very successful, as shown by how he has won four Grammy Awards over the course of his career so far.
1. Born in Green Hill, AL
Isbell was born in Green Hill, which is a community situated very close to the state line between Alabama and Tennessee. It is the hometown of more than one artist of note. Besides Isbell himself, there are also the band Iron Horse Bluegrass and the band Secret Sisters.
2. His Parents Had Him When They Were Young
It is interesting to note that Isbell’s parents were very young when they had him. His mother was just 17 years old while his father was just 19 years old at the time. There are plenty of such couples that manage to make it in the long run. However, it is no secret that people who get together at younger ages have higher divorce rates, not least because they often lack a clear idea of what they want as well as a clear understanding of what they can expect. As such, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that Isbell’s parents got divorced, with the result that he has multiple half-siblings.
3. His Grandparents Often Looked After Him
Isbell grew up just down the road from his grandparents’ farm. Thanks to this, he was often entrusted to their care while his parents worked. In fact, Isbell’s grandfather did a great deal of the work teaching him how to play musical instruments, though to be fair, much of Isbell’s family was interested in music in one way or another. This can be seen in how they would meet up to play music together once or twice a week, which speaks of serious commitment on their part.
4. Grew Up Going to a Couple of Churches
When Isbell was a child, he went to a couple of churches. One was a Pentecostal church. This refers to a collection of churches that believe in the inerrancy of the Bible as well as the necessity of the New Birth. Both of these are characteristics of evangelical Protestantism as a whole. However, Pentecostal churches also stand out because of their emphasis on the personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. Something that is connected to their belief in spiritual gifts such as divine healing and speaking in tongues. Meanwhile, the other was a Church of Christ, which was stricter. For proof, look no further than the fact that the latter permitted singing but not the use of musical instruments.
5. Played at the Grand Ole Opry
By the time he was in his teens, Isbell started playing in a band. Eventually, the band performed at the Grand Ole Opry when he was still at the age of 16. For those who are curious, said event is a country music stage concert that happens in Nashville, TN on a weekly basis. The Grand Ole Opry is prestigious, not least because the fact that it has been around since 1925 means that it has had a huge impact on the country music scene in the city as well as the rest of the United States. As such, performing at it is often considered to be an honor.
6. Went to the University of Memphis
Education-wise, Isbell went to the University of Memphis. There, he studied English as well as creative writing. However, Isbell never graduated from the school. Instead, he left when he was still short of a single physical education credit.
7. Much Influenced By the Music of His Home State
Unsurprisingly, Isbell has stated that he was influenced by the music of his home state, so much so that he wouldn’t be who he is without it. In particular, he has commented upon the state’s soul music as well as the state’s soul music-influenced rock and roll plus country music that came out in the 1960s and 1970s. Besides this, Isbell has also spoken of his admiration for figures such as Ben Howard, Blake Mills, and Neil Young.
8. Had First Acting Role on Squidbillies
Isbell has shown an interest in acting as well. His first acting role happened on Squidbillies in 2016. In it, Isbell played the new reverend Kyle Nubbins, which was in addition to him being one of the numerous artists who have performed their own version of the show’s theme song. As for the show itself, Squidbillies is an animated series aimed at an older audience that is centered upon an impoverished family of so-called “Appalachian Mud Squids” who live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is rather surreal, but it is one of those shows that use their surreal nature to be surprisingly topical.
9. Will Be Having His Live-Action Debut Soon
On a related note, Isbell will be having his live-action debut soon. This is because he has been cast as a murder victim on Killers of the Flower Moon, which is an upcoming movie about the Osage Indian murders in the 1920s. Said events were connected to the discovery of oil on the Osage Indian Reservation in 1897, which had made said people very rich by the 1920s. Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress passed a law in 1921 that required courts to appoint guardians for every single Osage of half-blood or more in ancestry guardians until they had demonstrated competency, which was a requirement that created enormous incentive for criminality. Many of these guardians used legal means to either steal the rights or otherwise cheat their charges. Meanwhile, others are believed to have just straight-up murdered their charges.
10. His Band Is Named for a Psychiatric Ward
Isbell’s band The 400 Unit is named for the psychiatric ward of Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence, AL. Said ward was named thus because it was once housed in a separate building from the main hospital. However, that is no longer the case because the psychiatric ward was moved to the first floor of the main building after renovations in the 1980s.