Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character. … Horace Greeley
You can tell a lot about a person by the things you find on their refrigerator door. Inside Jimmy Wayne’s comfortable Nashville home, you’ll find letters from people telling him just how much his songs have touched them, how HIS story is THEIR story too. His refrigerator also holds those words from Horace Greeley, an appropriate quote for a young man who embodies those words.
Character, creativity and an unbridled passion for life infuse Jimmy Wayne’s music and reverberate through every track on Do You Believe Me Now, his debut on The Valory Music Co. “It’s definitely a change,” Jimmy says of his new effort. “The record that I put together only has two ballads on it and that’s it. Everything else is up-tempo. I spent three years trying to find these songs that just really set me apart.”
Writing and finding songs that weren’t just good, but truly unique became Jimmy’s mission as he recorded his new project. He succeeds in crafting an album of songs that resonate strongly with audiences because of the honesty in the lyrics and the catchy melodies that make listeners immediately want to sing along. Each song on the project is brought vividly to life by Jimmy’s strong, soulful voice. It’s a potent instrument that conveys every nuance of a great lyric. In a few short years, Jimmy Wayne has developed a reputation as a “singer’s singer,” someone respected by his peers for his ability to deliver a song with an abundance of passion and personality that make each performance instantly memorable.
Yet when asked what has brought him this far, Jimmy doesn’t mention his voice or his energetic stage show, he brings it all back to the songs. “I think it’s just the fact that I tell the truth,” he says of his music’s appeal. “People love to hear somebody stand on the stage and sing something that’s real. I give the people that come with their hard earned money a hundred percent of everything that I could possibly give them. It’s clear to me that what I’ve experienced, I’ve experienced for a reason and maybe that’s my calling is to tell that story. This is it. I don’t have a Plan B.”
He doesn’t need a Plan B. Ever since a Nashville publishing executive first heard him in his home state of North Carolina and offered the young artist a deal with Opryland Music Group, Jimmy’s career has been on the fast track. He moved to Nashville and began getting cuts by artists like Tracy Byrd (“Put Your Hand in Mine”) and soon after landed a record deal with Dreamworks Records when music industry veteran Scott Borchetta signed him to the label.
His 2003 Dreamworks debut spawned four hits-- “I Love You This Much” “You Are,” and “Stay Gone,” with the latter tune peaking at No. 3 on Billboard’s Country Singles chart. The poignant “Paper Angels” spotlighted the plight of abused and abducted children and earned Jimmy the William Booth Award from the Salvation Army.
However, like many new artists on their way up, record company politics put a halt to his momentum. Dreamworks shut the doors. When the dust settled and Jimmy was no longer obligated to Universal Music Group, he got a call from Borchetta that simply said “Come home.” By this time, Borchetta had become Music Row’s latest success story with his new venture, Big Machine Records, and Jimmy had a new home with its sister label The Valory Music Company.
“I’ve always wanted to sing, write and play,” says Jimmy. “I played at cookouts and everything I could around my hometown. It didn’t matter what it was or if it was for two or three people, I would play anywhere and everywhere.”
It’s that passion for making music and that dedicated work ethic that fuel Jimmy’s career. Once signed to The Valory Music Co., he set about writing and searching for songs that would populate the next step on his musical journey. Jimmy’s first album was an amalgam of songs that reflected his turbulent youth and the emotional strength he gained from his experiences as a foster child and then later as a homeless teen. It was a portrait of a survivor that resonated strongly with country audiences hungry for real music that addressed both life’s toughest moments and most tender joys.
Do You Believe Me Now is the next step in Jimmy’s evolution as an artist. Time on the road has made his voice even stronger and more seasoned. Interaction with the fans has heightened his awareness of what an audience wants when they come to a show. Thus the new album is teeming with up tempo tracks. Jimmy has grown as a songwriter and with maturity comes a broader view of life that informs his music. While his first album was an intensely personal, almost cathartic collection, Jimmy’s new songs tend to explore more universal themes, yet still maintain inspiration from an intensely personal place.
Produced by Mark Bright, Joe West and Dave Pahanish, Jimmy’s new album, Do You Believe Me Now, features the hit single that has re-introduced him to a hungry country radio audience. The rest of the album runs the gamut from the summertime fun of “I’ll Be That” to the sensual “One on One” about a couple needing their alone time.
A standout track is certain to be Jimmy’s duet with Patty Loveless, titled “No Good For Me.” “I hold honesty in lyrics and in vocal performance above all else in my music,” he said. “For me, Patty represents the embodiment of honesty in music to which the rest of us can only aspire.”
“Didn’t Come Here to Lose” is a buoyant tune about not giving up on your musical dreams despite the challenges. “Where You’re Going” is an empowering anthem that features a guest vocal by John Oates of the legendary duo Hall & Oates. Jimmy will be a special guest on Oates’ forthcoming project.
One of the album’s highlights is the autobiographical “Kerosene Kid,” a song that holds special significance to Jimmy because of his extensive charity work with disadvantaged youth. “When you smell kerosene on a kid at school, you just know that they have a hard life,” says Jimmy. “Usually the kids who heat by a kerosene heater are poor kids. They live in trailers or old houses and that’s their only way of staying warm is to either use a kerosene or a wood heater. This song says ‘Don’t let them get you down, keep your head up and stay proud.’”
Jimmy Wayne believes in the power of music to inspire and entertain and he’s devoted his life to doing both. He still can’t believe he’s living a dream come true. “I remember the first time I heard ‘Stay Gone’ on the radio,” says Jimmy. “I was with WQYK’s Mike Culotta and we were going to get sushi. We were sitting at a traffic light and it came on the radio. I remember rolling the window down and screaming out the window as loud as I could. I couldn’t believe it was my song on the radio.”
He should believe it now because it only takes one listen to that powerful, soul-drenched voice and others become believers too.