A portrait of Jackson Craig.


From the age of 10, Jackson Craig knew he wanted to write songs and play the guitar. At 12, he started a band that performed his songs around Philadelphia, his hometown. Then at 15, he began his solo career, writing and recording his own music and “putting it out there,” as he says. He mastered the recording technology by himself, which gave him all the background and material he needed to apply for and gain admission to the NYU Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Jackson’s songwriting process starts on an acoustic guitar. “I don’t usually write lyrics beforehand,” he says. “The lyrics come to me while I’m figuring out the chords and melodies.” In the past three years at NYU Clive Davis, Jackson, a rising sophomore, put out two digital albums. One, called The Scenic Route, was “stripped down, just acoustic guitar and singing,” he says. Next, his 2019 release, Secrets at the Bottom of the Pool, is “more rhythm and blues with a full-band sound.” The title song from that collection is his favorite. That is because its lyrics (see below) express longing for the past and a lost love.

But Jackson is not looking back anymore. After taking classes in music history, audio engineering, music business, music theory, and creative writing during his first year at NYU, plus performing with his five-piece band, Jackson Craig and the Walkdowns, three of whom are also NYU Clive Davis students, he is looking forward to his sophomore year. “It’s very encouraging to be in a class with people who are so talented and passionate about what they’re doing,” he says. “We went to see [NYU Clive Davis alum] Maggie Rogers perform, and afterward she talked about taking the time to absorb everything we’re learning and just enjoy the college experience, so that’s what I’m focusing on now.”

Jackson Craig performing on stage and singing into a microphone.

Hold my head above the rising blue
Nothing ever happens the way it used to

When we would line up on the edge of the water
Jump in the deep end, aim for the bottom
You hold your breath, while I count it out loud
And come up from the depths where your fears have been drowned

And I was so proud of you
Something I could never do
And I’ll live vicariously through you
Cause I could never dive into that pool
The blue, with you
The blue, with you

When we understood words without even speaking
March to the drum of our own hearts beating
You count it out, I’m nowhere to be found
But I know when you find me, we’re all safe and sound

Hold my head above the rising blue
No one ever loved you like I do