Toriano Adaryll “Tito” Jackson, American singer-songwriter and guitarist, member of the Jackson 5 and Music Hall Of Famer, didn’t achieve success easily. He and his brothers—the legendary Jackson 5 worked hard every step of the way to glory. When they practiced in their Gary, Indiana home, neighbors made fun of them, complained about the “noise” and said they weren’t going anywhere. Managers told them they could sing but couldn’t write songs. And as they grew into men and their voices changed, record moguls said they were washed up. Under the tutelage of their father, the Jackson brothers—Tito, Michael, Jermaine, Marlon, and Jackie—refused to take no for an answer, and the rest is history.
Now continuing on the path set for Tito Jackson when he broke into the music business as an original member of the Jackson 5, Tito continues to grow as a musician and performer, with “Under Your Spell” as the extraordinary present he has bestowed on the listening public. I sat down with Jackson and asked him about his enduring musical career, his new blues-infused album, “Under Your Spell,” and one song on the album that is particularly relevant for the times, “Love One Another.” He shared with me his own personal secret to career success relevant to anyone climbing the corporate ladder.
Robinson: So many people have been inspired by you and your music helps us get through rough times. There’s resiliency in music.
Jackson: Yes, and I thought of that in one of the songs on the album, “Love One Another.” With the unrest in the world like the pandemic, Black Lives Matter and the attack on the Capitol, we need to be reminded to love one another. The Jackson family has always tried to include that in our music and remind the world that we’re all the same. The world would be a much better place if you know that your fellow man loves you. We need to be there and help one another. In the song, I’m trying to remind the world of this.
Robinson: Given the hard times we’re living in, what advice would you give people to overcome hardships and find resilience?
Jackson: Believe in you, no matter what the obstacles are because if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will.
Robinson: Do you have a bucket list?
Jackson: To win a Grammy while my mom is on this Earth and win it for her. I know she’s proud of all her children, including myself, but I would like to see her proud. I dedicated this new album to my mom.
Robinson: How do you balance everything out? Fame, work, your personal life?
Jackson: I just take it as it comes. When I was a young man, I was told how great me and my brothers’ band was but there was stress not to get the big head and to stay away from drugs. My father knew we would be men much longer than children. But with all that stress, having balance and a clear mental state is important for success, no matter what you’re doing.
Robinson: What keeps you balanced?
Jackson: I love working on antique cars. When I’m not performing, I’m usually under the hood of a car where it’s quiet and just relax. And I go fishing. Some people think fishing is boring but I need that space to ease my mind.
Robinson: That sounds like meditation. When your mind’s at ease do you ever think about what really matters in life? What do you think about?
Jackson: Catching that fish.
(We both chuckled)
Robinson: That sounds like meditation.
Jackson: I think about the path that was carved out for my family and me, all my friends and the countries I’ve visited and people I’ve met. There’s a lot to be thankful for.
Robinson: What about the people who are so busy building their careers they forget about the more important things in life?
Jackson: Take a break sometime to re-balance yourself to move forward. We can get wrapped up so much in trying to get ahead that we actually hurt ourselves. Sometimes it’s about getting away from a project for a day or two or even longer and think about where you’re going with it. And new ideas and pathways will come from that. If you don’t, the quality won’t be as good. You have to take time for yourself. That’s how you progress.
Robinson: What do you think about the critics?
Jackson: My father told me once, “The opinions of critics is like everybody has an a—hole, so everybody has an opinion, but the most important opinion is your own.” He was very kind but could be very strict. He made us work when we were young. I have a good work ethic and it comes from him. He taught us to have the instinct to win and that we have to work hard to get it.
Robinson: You’ve been incredibly successful, but what about workers going to their jobs everyday trying to climb the career ladder and people telling them they can’t do it?
Jackson: You can’t listen to other people’s negativity. You have to believe in yourself, see yourself doing it and work at it. Growing up in Gary, Indiana, we rehearsed all the time in the house, and the neighbors would say, “Shut up making all that noise. Ya’ll ain’t going nowhere.” And little did they know we would create some of the best art around. In my music career with my brothers, we always felt we could do things. And there were other people who thought we couldn’t. People that counted us out said, “Your voices are changing, and Michael’s voice is changing. You guys are finished.” We had companies tell us we couldn’t write songs and not to reinvent the wheel. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken. We never listened to them because our father taught us we could do what we want, but we had to go get it. That’s when we went from The Jackson 5 to the Jacksons.
Robinson: Do you miss Michael?
Jackson: I miss him terribly every day. It’s hard because every day I hear, “Sorry about your brother,” and I hear his music on the radio or things about him on television. I’m reminded all the time.
Robinson: You’re carrying on the legacy, and I hope you win that Grammy.
Jackson: Love and peace.
Tito Jackson will appear at Resiliency 2021 on Thursday September 9, 2021.