Lifelong Indiana Resident Malachi Jaggers Talks Music Success and Hoosier Roots
Writer / Amy Lant-Wenger
Imagine for a moment all of the exquisite things that make life as a Hoosier so wondrous. The magnificence and magic of the seasons. The bright and brilliant sunscapes and moon glow. The tranquility and peace of the open farmland and the friendly candor of the people.
Now imagine that all of this could be the inspiration for a soundtrack of life. This well describes the musical stylings of Malachi Jaggers, a singer-songwriter from rural central Indiana who has accomplished it all – the mission, the message and the music.
Jaggers is a lifelong resident of Indiana, and a self-taught musician, lyricist and composer. His music has been described as a blend of 1970s rock and country, and has often drawn comparisons to the sounds of James Taylor, the Eagles, Tom Petty, and fellow Midwestern rocker John Mellencamp. Jaggers released his first EP titled “Fearless” in July of 2021, which was followed by the singles “An American Hero” and “What Are You Waiting For?” The latter two tunes received Grammy Award nominations.
Most recently Jaggers has dropped a new song, which was unveiled on October 27, called “Too Soon.” For this latest release, Jaggers shares the co-writing credits with a close friend, Scott Greeson.
Jaggers scarcely remembers a time when music wasn’t an integral force of power and momentum in his life. “Growing up in the heartland countryside of Indiana, and being influenced by rock and country music, country-meets-‘70s-rock happened organically,” he says. “Music has always been like breathing to me, a natural extension of who I am.”
Before Jaggers even started school, he was becoming well-versed in how to play chords on his father’s collection of guitars, often practicing with such fervor that his small fingers would be blistered.
In fairly short order, he could simply hear a song and play along effortlessly, without the aid of any sort of sheet music.
As Jaggers grew older, he finessed his musical gifts in between the rigors and chores of farm life. “On summer days I’d pull a hay wagon into the driveway and use it as my stage,” he recalls. “Friends, whom I was in a band with, would come over to jam. Sometimes we’d set up and play in the garage too. We were surrounded by corn and bean fields, so no one minded how loud we were. My younger brothers and our howling beagle dogs were usually our audience, which was great.”
Jaggers sometimes borrowed vintage albums from his father to show off to his friends, explaining to them how he longed to emulate their vibe. Admittedly, Jaggers says, his friends were sometimes a little baffled. “I was an ’80s kid living in the ’60s and ’70s,” he jokes.
“During high school I started playing other instruments by ear, and picked up drums, bass guitar, harmonica and piano,” Jaggers says. “No matter the subject, if I had a project in school, I tried to incorporate music in some way.”
In one of his high school classes, Jaggers was given permission by his English teacher to transform a reading of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” into a musical, which he then had to perform in front of the class. He remembers well spending time at the Little Theatre at Delphi High School, perfecting his composition. Jaggers remains a resident of Delphi today with his wife, Leah.
Jaggers also incorporated a historic element into one of his early works, writing a song about the Whiskey Rebellion as an assignment for a history class. “I played it at a family get-together, and my nephew ran around the house singing, ‘Whiskey, whiskey,’” he says. “I guess it was effective.”
Recognizing that his son was a musical prodigy, Jaggers’ father transformed a modest 8-foot-by-10-foot shed into what Jaggers fondly calls his early jam space and recording studio. “He’d invite friends over and we’d all play music together,” Jaggers says. “I learned a lot from his friends. Those years were so valuable and taught me a great deal about how to work with a band.”
While Jaggers’s early sound was steeped in rock roots, it was Leah who convinced him to expand his interests toward country music.
It seemed serendipitous that Jaggers and a group of fellow musicians were able to gather in Nashville to begin laying down tracks. Jaggers and his accompanying band were set to begin recording “Fearless” at Blackbird Studios, which is owned by renowned country artist Martina McBride and her husband, John. Jaggers was fortunate to play with a wealth of distinguished artists, some of whom had collaborated with Joe Walsh, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Any hopes of traveling on the road to promote the new EP were quashed, however, because at the conclusion of recording “Fearless” in early 2020, the pandemic set in, and the East Nashville region was ravaged by a tornado. Jaggers began a campaign to promote his music via social media, sharing music from home with a variety of instruments he happened to have on hand. “It was nothing fancy, just something to encourage people going through a hard time,” Jaggers says. “It was also a vehicle to stay creative and keep the music going.”
Some of his newer material was later recorded back in Nashville, this time at Compass studio, which was once the recording studio of Waylon Jennings, and is now considered a legendary historic landmark on Music Row. Jaggers credits Matt Coles, a Grammy-nominated engineer and producer, for helping to fine-tune the recordings. Coles has since become a good friend of Jaggers.
With only a few weeks remaining in 2023, Jaggers will end the year with a jam-packed schedule, so to speak. He has been traveling and performing at venues around the state and is preparing for a string of shows in Florida this winter. One of his newer songs, “Look At It Go,” will soon air in the background of a scene on a Canadian television show called “Ruby and the Well.”
“My future goals are to release more music for my fans to enjoy, and to continue to tour regionally and nationally,” Jaggers says. “As a songwriter, it’s an honor to have this opportunity.”
Jaggers has a newsletter called the Jaggers Train, through which fans can stay apprised of new releases, stories, song previews, tour appearances and other information. He maintains several social media platforms including Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter/X. Check out his songs on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.
Visit malachijaggers.com for tour dates, reviews and booking contact information.