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By the end of 2001, Alan Jackson had carved out a successful career in country music. With a string of honky-tonk hits alongside the classic “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” it was hard to even think that he’d add another triumph to his already successful career.

But, he did. And we have his mother, Ruth Jackson, to thank for that.

On Feb. 27, 2006, Alan performed the hymn “This Old Rugged Cross” during a GAC live concert taping inside Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. The song was one of 15 to be featured on his “Precious Memories” gospel album. Considering the show took place in “The Mother Church of Country Music,” the stained glassed windows added just the right touch to his religious-themed set list.

Ruth, of course, was the driving force behind the whole thing. In fact, she coaxed him into making the no-frills album – which was originally intended to be a Christmas gift for her.

Turns out it became a hit. Selling nearly 200 million copies, the album was the only gospel recording to ever debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. In 2013, Alan followed up the album with “Precious Memories Volume II.”

And fans were left with nothing to do but rejoice.

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