Making music in memory of dad, a fallen Iraq War vet

Jackson Warren practices on his father's guitar at the Music Authority in Cumming. Jackson's father Charles was killed while serving with the military in Iraq two years ago. Charles was a guitarist and Jackson chose to learn to play his dad's guitar to stay close to him. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.
Caption
Jackson Warren practices on his father's guitar at the Music Authority in Cumming. Jackson's father Charles was killed while serving with the military in Iraq two years ago. Charles was a guitarist and Jackson chose to learn to play his dad's guitar to stay close to him. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Jackson Warren is the spitting image of his father, Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Warren, who was killed in Iraq in 2005. The resemblance is especially undeniable when Jackson strums a guitar.

Charles was deployed in May 2005 and killed that August when a car detonated at a checkpoint. Many soldiers were killed instantly. Charles was injured severely but was conscious for a while. He knew help was coming and he asked about the well-being of his fellow soldiers. He also spoke of how he’d never see his daughter, just 1 month old at the time, and he prayed. Charles lost consciousness in the helicopter and could not be revived.

Jackson, now 18, was just 22 months old when he lost his father, too young to remember him. He has relied on family and friends to tell him stories about his dad over the years. He’s learned his father was kind, funny, musical, and he especially loved to sit around and casually play his guitar. Jackson was in the first grade when he began begging his mother, Carol Warren, for guitar lessons.

“I caved when he was in the second grade,” said Carol. “He wanted to play because his dad played. I wondered if he was too young for lessons, but how could I say no? I work to be mom and dad to Jackson and his sister, Maddie, but I always want to make sure Charles still has his place in this family and that the kids know him in the best way I can provide. For Jackson, music was the perfect way.”

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Samantha Clark and Jackson Warren practice with fellow Eclipse band members at the Music Authority in Cumming.PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Samantha Clark and Jackson Warren practice with fellow Eclipse band members at the Music Authority in Cumming.PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.
Caption
Samantha Clark and Jackson Warren practice with fellow Eclipse band members at the Music Authority in Cumming.PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Carol registered Jackson for lessons at Music Authority in Cumming, where Jackson began weekly lessons for 30 minutes at a time.

“Learning how to play guitar at 8 years old was hard, but I stuck with it,” said Jackson. “Mom made me practice for 30 minutes a day and I think I began to find my groove by age 9. Music instantly makes me happier, and it makes me feel closer to my dad.”

Jackson owns about eight guitars, but he plays his dad’s honey-hued acoustic guitar at home all the time.

“I gave Charles that guitar for Christmas in 2003,” said Carol. “It was a really expensive purchase for us at the time, but he wanted it so badly. He was self-taught and he loved to play it. It was a Takamine guitar. I didn’t know anything about the brand back then, but now I know all about all kinds of guitars because of Jackson.”

Jackson, a senior at Lambert High School in Suwanee, now plays bass, guitar, and piano. Most of his free time is dedicated to music. He’s in the jazz band at school and he still goes to Music Authority, where he takes three lessons a week. It’s also where he works and where he performs with his student band, Eclipse.

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Jackson Warren (from left) practices with fellow Eclipse band members Samantha Clark, Dominic Perez and Tara McBride at the Music Authority in Cumming. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Jackson Warren (from left) practices with fellow Eclipse band members Samantha Clark, Dominic Perez and Tara McBride at the Music Authority in Cumming.  PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.
Caption
Jackson Warren (from left) practices with fellow Eclipse band members Samantha Clark, Dominic Perez and Tara McBride at the Music Authority in Cumming. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Music Authority opened in 2002 and has been owned by Andrew and Melissa Loggins, since 2004. They define it as a music destination that offers performances, lessons and repairs. They teach 600 students a week and host two to six shows a month, all student-based productions. Their students range from age 4 to senior citizens in their 80s. Melissa has been Jackson’s instructor for a decade and has come to know him and his passion for music very well.

“A couple years ago Jackson performed in a show we produced called ‘Gone,’” said Melissa. “It was a show about people who inspire us, who aren’t here anymore. Jackson spoke about his dad.

He’s talked about his dad publicly many times over the years, at his schools and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. It’s obvious that representing his dad is important to Jackson.”

Caption
Jackson Warren practices on his father's guitar at the Music Authority in Cumming. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Jackson Warren practices on his father's guitar at the Music Authority in Cumming. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.
Caption
Jackson Warren practices on his father's guitar at the Music Authority in Cumming. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Jackson honored his father at Music Authority’s Fall Festival on Oct. 16, a performance benefiting Any Soldier, a nonprofit that sends care packages to the military.

Jackson’s younger sister, Maddie, 16, also takes music lessons at Music Authority. Their mom said she loves that her home is filled with music. She knows it would make Charles smile.

“I greatly enjoy watching them play,” said Carol. “Jackson has always been a shier kid, but music brought his personality out and made him more outgoing. He lights up a stage and I know when he’s up there that he feels so connected to his dad. I think about that as I watch and I can imagine Charles, watching over him. I know he’s so proud.”


MORE DETAILS

Where to hear Jackson Warren and Eclipse

  • 6:30 p.m. Nov. 26 at Freedom Mill Brew and Shine in Cumming
  • 6 p.m. Dec. 31 at Music Authority’s New Year’s Eve Bash