Meet The New Faculty: Paul Jackson, Jr.

By Tyler Francischine

As part of a series highlighting faculty appointments, USC Thornton recognizes Paul Jackson, Jr.’s new position as an assistant professor of practice.

Paul Jackson, Jr. has been named an assistant professor of practice in the USC Thornton Popular Music Performance program. Jackson joined Thornton faculty as a visiting artist and later became an adjunct assistant professor. With his promotion this year, he becomes a full-time faculty member.

Jackson is a GRAMMY recognized composer, arranger, producer and guitarist. Born and raised in Los Angeles into a musical family, Jackson began nurturing his musical talent at an early age by performing with local bands, including a band composed of himself and his siblings. Jackson majored in music at the USC Thornton School of Music and became one of the most prolific guitarists of the 1970s and ’80s, recording with artists such as Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Quincy Jones, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, The Temptations, Luther Vandross, Patrice Rushen, Chicago, Whitney Houston, Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Ella Fitzgerald and others. He’s also recorded with some of today’s biggest stars including The Weeknd, Zendaya and Daft Punk.

“I’m very excited to be full time here at Thornton,” Jackson says. “My number one goal is to assist the students in being prepared for careers in the music industry — not competing but trend setting and bar raising.”

Popular Music Performance Program Chair and Associate Professor of Practice Patrice Rushen says she feels extremely fortunate to have Jackson on faculty, and popular music students benefit greatly from the breadth and depth of his skills and industry experience.

“There are few people as qualified as Paul to teach the body of repertoire and the skills required of students studying to be career-minded, working guitarists in the contemporary genres. There is a reason he is among the most recorded guitarists of all time,” Rushen says.

Paul Jackson Jr. appreciates a student recital for the USC Thornton Studio Guitar program in 2016. (Photo by Erin Offenhauser)

Jackson received a degree of honorary doctor of sacred music from the Next Dimension University. He has appeared in a special performance at the White House for President Barack and Michelle Obama, and he has appeared on many television shows and specials, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, American Idol, The Academy Awards, The Emmys and The Kennedy Center Honors. He has had multiple GRAMMY appearances with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Ne-Yo, Lionel Richie and Chance The Rapper. He has scored music for many successful television shows and movies and has performed on the soundtracks for major motion pictures such as “La La Land,” “Get On Up,” “Zootopia” and “The Color Purple.” Jackson is an accomplished recording artist in his own right, releasing eight albums as a solo artist and one as a member of contemporary supergroup JAZZ FUNK SOUL with keyboardist Jeff Lorber and saxophonist Everette Harp.

The New Cohort

As part of the series, here are more recently announced faculty of USC Thornton.

León F. García Corona

León F. García Corona joins the faculty as a music scholar whose work focuses on the intersections between music, race and social justice in Mexico and among its diasporic communities in the United States. He is the co-editor and a contributor of Voices of the Field: Pathways in Public Ethnomusicology (Oxford University Press), in which he and other contributors explore public engagement in ethnomusicology.

Photo of Jeanine Cowen

Jeanine Cowen

Jeanine Cowen joins the faculty as a professor of practice and the new chair of the USC Thornton Screen Scoring program. Cowen is an active media composer and educator who works as a freelance composer, music producer and sound designer focusing primarily on the intersection of audio and visual medias, with particular interest in the burgeoning VR/AR/XR worlds and video games. Formerly the vice president for curriculum and program innovation at Berklee College of Music, she was a professor in the game and interactive media scoring area at Berklee before joining the USC Thornton faculty.

Photo of Jonathan A. Gómez

Jonathan A. Gómez

Dr. Jonathan A. Gómez joins the faculty as an assistant professor of musicology. He is a musicologist who studies Black American musics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as musics of the African diaspora more broadly. Gómez is a jazz saxophonist who holds a master’s degree in musicology from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s in studio music and jazz from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. He is currently completing his doctoral degree in historical musicology with a secondary field in African and African American studies at Harvard University, where he is also a GSAS presidential scholar.

Photo of Candice D. Mattio

Candice D. Mattio

Candice D. Mattio joins the faculty as an assistant professor of music teaching and learning. Her research focuses on the intersections of musical creativity, social issues in contemporary and popular music education and technology-based music teaching and learning contexts. Before joining the Thornton faculty, she was an assistant professor and coordinator of music education at Florida International University and previously was chair of fine arts and taught secondary general music, electronic music, studio production and popular music ensembles in Chicago public schools.

Seth Parker Woods

Cellist Dr. Seth Parker Woods joins the faculty as an assistant professor of practice, string chamber music and cello. A recipient of the 2022 Chamber Music America Michael Jaffee Visionary Award and hailed by The Guardian as “a cellist of power and grace” who possesses “mature artistry and willingness to go to the brink,” Woods will direct the Thornton Strings Department’s chamber music program while teaching cello.

TAGS: Contemporary Music, Contemporary Music Division, Popular Music,

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