Jimmy Wayne Biography
Review The Artist (25)
“My responsibility in the past, when I was sleeping outside every night, was just to survive.
My responsibility now is to stay real, stay grounded, and just tell the truth.”
— Jimmy Wayne
No one has more of a right to sing country music than Jimmy Wayne.
Country, they say, comes from real life; the richer that life, the more the singer can draw from the well. If that’s true, then it’s an ocean of hard times and triumph that feeds the music of this young man.
Jimmy Wayne has weathered emotional abuse and real violence. He has worked (as a child) to earn money for his mother while she was in prison. He has lived in the open and subsisted on his wits in order to eat from day to day.
None of this stopped him, and today, he looks toward a future full of hope. Because he’s also sung on the “Grand Ole Opry,” opened for Charlie Daniels before 7,000 new fans and delivered a debut album, Jimmy Wayne , that’s sure to inspire all who believe in the power of song.
He can’t remember the times that he thought
Does my daddy love me
— from “I Love You This Much”
Jimmy Wayne was born in Kings Mountain, N.C., but it’s hard to say whether he ever actually had a hometown. He passed his early years shuttling with his sister, Patricia, back and forth from their mother to the homes of other families to foster homes. When in their mother’s custody, they moved constantly, for reasons that were seldom clear to Jimmy.
Still, despite her difficulties, Jimmy’s mother loved to sing. A fan of country music and rockers like Bob Seger, she also sang in church. Jimmy, too, sang on Sunday morning. He says there were musicians on both sides of his family. “My dad, who I was never around, played guitar, harmonica and piano,” he notes. He recalls hearing a lot of country radio at the various homes he lived in. Songs about hard times particularly resonated for the youngster.
When he was nine years old, his mother married a man who only made things harder to bear. “He’d take the food stamps and sell them to buy drugs,” Jimmy says. “All my sister and I had to eat was our free lunch at school. Sometimes, we wouldn’t have eaten since Friday, and by Sunday, I was so hungry I couldn’t stand it. One morning, I could smell bacon cooking at the neighbors’ house. I went to their door and peeked inside. No one was at the table, so I went in, put every scrap of food inside my shirt, ran out behind the house and ate it all right there. I couldn’t help it.”
By the time he was 12, Jimmy’s mother was in prison and he was living with his grandfather. He earned money for her picking blackberries – two dollars per gallon – or digging golf balls out of the bushes. He also collected marijuana seeds from local dealers, mixed them with dried tomato leaves, rolled it all up and sold “joints” to unsuspecting customers.
Clearly, this was an exceptionally difficult period in Jimmy’s life, but the incarceration of his mother was also a catalyst for something good: “That’s when I started writing, sort of as therapy,” he says. “When my mom went to prison, it was hard, so I wrote. Though back then it was more like poetry than lyrics. It became a hobby and then it became a habit.” He even took a turn at rap, trying to write rhymes in the style of the old-school hip-hop artists he was hearing, including Run-DMC.
There was certainly no shortage of things to write about. When Jimmy was 13, his stepfather tried to resolve a quarrel with Jimmy’s brother by shooting into the house. “After that, my stepfather told me to get in the car and we drove away,” Jimmy recalls. “We parked somewhere, and he started punching me in the face. I was bleeding and crying. He made me reload the gun. Then he took it back and held it to my head. He started mumbling something, and when I saw him turn his head away, I knocked his arm away from me just as he pulled the trigger. He shot a hole in the front window.
“The next night, my brother came back for revenge. My stepfather grabs the gun again and says, ‘Get out of my yard.’ Then he points the gun at my sister-in-law and shoots her three times. He paralyzed her. We all saw it; it was right in front of us.”
This same man would later beat and stab Jimmy’s mother – on Mother’s Day – while Jimmy was visiting from a group home. Miraculously, she recovered. “My mom got me out of that group home, but then two months later she left again, and I had to go back there,” Jimmy says. Shortly after that, he ran away and moved into an abandoned trailer.
But on his 15th birthday, Jimmy was discovered and arrested. He was sent to a detention center as punishment for fleeing the group home. “I was very, very angry,” he confides. “I wanted to be left alone. I felt very dangerous, to myself and to the world. I kept asking, ‘God, if you’re real, why am I going through this?’ I didn’t know it at the time, but now I realize he was only preparing me for my future.”
You’re in my thoughts and prayers
No matter where you are right now
Remember God’s right there
— from “Paper Angels”
Eventually, something led Jimmy to a house he’d passed by a hundred times. For some reason on this day he walked through the door of a wood shop next to the house and asked the old man inside if he could do some work for him. “Ask the boss,” the man replied, pointing toward his wife, who then hired Jimmy to mow their lawn every couple of weeks. The summer wound down, and one day they invited him inside and made him an unexpected offer.
Their names were Russell and Beatrice Costner. “I’d never shared anything about my life with them,” Jimmy says, “but they invited me to move into a vacant bedroom they had. Their only conditions were that I cut my hair and go to church with them each week. I believe with all my heart that God was working through them.”
But just two months after Jimmy’s arrival, Russell died. Jimmy and Bea then bonded as a family of two. Jimmy attended school, never missing a day, and worked at the local textile mill. During the six years they had together before Bea also passed away, Jimmy’s world turned inside out – light spilled into spaces once shrouded by darkness.
Beatrice encouraged his musical aspirations. “When I could, I’d stay inside listening to CDs,” he says. “I wouldn’t just listen to them – I’d listen into them, dissect them. I lived vicariously through the singers; when I’d hear them, that was enough for me to escape. It just helped me. I loved Motown and a lot of the great ‘80s singers, like Lionel Richie and Hall & Oats, but I was also into Queensryche, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest … I started out singing in a rock band called Fantasyche. Beatrice went to every single show I sang at; she was very supportive. I had the love for music when I moved in there, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until then.”
It’s not surprising when Jimmy says he was one of those kids who sang around the house all the time – and apparently other places as well. He remembers when he was 15, a girl sitting in front of him on the school bus turned around and said, “Was that you singing? It sounded good.” Says Jimmy: “I was really struck by that. I went home and started thinking about it.”
His love of singers made him a “huge” fan of Alan Jackson and also of Steve Wariner and Ronnie Milsap. But it was a country singer closer to home that set him on his true path. Jimmy reveals: “When I was in 12th grade, an inmate at the prison I later worked at came to our school as part of this “Think Smart” program – you know, ‘Stay off drugs, don’t be like me, think smart.’ He got up with his guitar and told a story and sang a country song he’d written. I looked around the auditorium, and he had everybody there in the palm of his hand. I thought, ‘That’s it. That’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.’
“He really inspired me, because I was searching. I knew I wanted to sing, and I wanted to be the best I could be – I even wanted to be an opera singer at one point – but I wasn’t sure what I needed to do. About a week later, I bought a guitar for $30 at a yard sale and started teaching myself how to play. I’d already found myself singing one of my poems; pieces of melody started coming to me and I was, like, ‘Wow – that’s a song!’” Of his commitment to country songs, he says, “I wanted to share my stories, and you can’t do that if you’re screaming into a microphone with a heavy metal band.”
Later, during a visit to that same inmate, whom Jimmy consulted about songwriting, the prison supervisor took him aside and told him if he ever needed a job, he’d have one there. In fact, after earning an associate’s degree in criminal justice, Jimmy worked for four years as a guard at the Gaston Correctional Facility. But he knew his heart was in Nashville. Then, two days after quitting his job, he left North Carolina to hit the road to Music City.
It’s good to be back home
I waited way too long
— from “After You”
Unlike most who’d preceded him to Nashville, Jimmy didn’t rush into networking and playing everywhere there was a hat to pass. “I wasn’t ready,” he states. “Nashville can be an unforgiving town, so I wanted to make sure everything – my singing, my guitar playing and my writing – were up to par before I started making my move to get a record deal.” He says he is deeply indebted to guitar instructor Ellen Britton, remarking, “She took me to a whole different level.”
Through a connection with Mike Whelan, director of creative services for Acuff-Rose, Jimmy was invited into the legendary publishing house. For three years he worked alongside established writers like Dean Dillon and Whitey Shafer, polishing his writing skills and earning credit for co-writing (with Skip Ewing) Tracy Byrd’s Top 10 hit “Put Your Hand In Mine.”
DreamWorks Nashville staff songwriter Chris Lindsey brought Jimmy to DreamWorks, introducing him to Scott Borchetta, the label’s senior executive for promotion and artist development, and James Stroud, the company’s principal executive. After brief, enthusiastically received auditions, he was signed to a record deal. (Jimmy had met DreamWorks A&R exec Allison Jones by chance three years earlier. The two had struck up a conversation at a hair salon they both happened to patronize, and Jimmy ended up playing his music for Jones there.)
With Lindsey and Stroud co-producing, Jimmy began work on his debut album. Released June 24, 2003, Jimmy Wayne captures a foster child’s yearning for love on “Paper Angels”; an encounter with a foster brother who’d become an inmate in the prison where Jimmy worked on “Blue And Brown”; a revenge fantasy painted in cartoon images on “The Rabbit”; and a wish that trouble would just keep its distance on first radio track “Stay Gone” (a Billboard Hot Country hit).
Asked how he’s managed to come so far, Jimmy says: “It’s the power of one. Right now, right here, I’m living proof that it takes only one person to make a difference.” He’s talking about Bea Costner. But as listeners immerse themselves in Jimmy Wayne, they will sense that it’s never just the power of one. For from this moment, Jimmy Wayne is finally, fully in control of his life and his music. And in some ways, his journey is just beginning.
Birthday: October 23, 1972
Born: Cleveland County, NC
Hometown: Bessemer City, NC
Reside: Nashville, TN
Height: 5’9 ½”
Martial Status: single
Siblings: 3 sisters (Patricia, Rhonda & Kathy) & 2 brothers (Charlie & Kenny)
Musical Influences: Ronnie Milsap, Lionel Richie, Hall & Oates, Queensryche
Hobbies: work out, watch movies & take walks
Pet Peeve: people who are disrespectful
Boxers or briefs: both
I sleep in… boxers
I never leave home without… a guitar pic
Color: green & blue
Food: chicken & apples
Drink: sweet tea
Snack: goldfish crackers
Ice Cream: vanilla
Dessert: mixed fruit
Restaurant: Rendezvous Ribs (Memphis, TN)
Place: home in North Carolina
Book: “The Bridges of Madison County”
Movie: comedies (no specific movie)
TV Shows: news, geographic and historical programs & “America’s Most Wanted”
Cartoon: The Flintstones
Song: “Sara Smile” (Hall & Oates)
Actor: Jim Carrey
Actress: I don’t really have one
Musical Artist: Alan Jackson, Hall & Oates, Queensryche
Album of all time: I have too many favorites too list
Amusement Park Ride: water rides
I first realized I wanted to be an artist… when I was 14, I used to listen to the radio and pretend it was me singing.
I want to be a singer/songwriter because… singing is something that I love to do. I felt this was a good way to reach people and to give something back
The most exciting part of my career so far… signing my record deal with DreamWorks
Strangest gift I’ve received: when I was a kid my only Christmas gift one year was a deck of UNO cards
Most unusual thing I’ve been asked to do: autograph the back of an inmate’s mother’s picture Did I do it?: yes
Most unusual job: prison guard
First paying gig: a fundraiser in North Carolina
Job I would rather starve than do: doffing cloth in a textile mill
My hero is… my foster Mom, Beatrice, because of the way she treats people
Posters on my wall as a kid: heavy metal bands
First childhood crush on a star: Daisy Duke
Worst date: When I was 16 I dated a girl whose father was a retired Marine officer. He was very strict and wouldn’t let me take her out by myself. He would greet me at the door and would always make a point to show me his Marine uniform that hung on the wall in plastic. He insisted on driving us to the movies and would wait in the car until the movie was over. I went out with her four or five times.
Ideal date: something spontaneous
If I could tour with anyone it would be… Alan Jackson, Reba or Patty Loveless
“My music is country with a little bit of soul influences added to it. I want to write and sing songs that people can relate to, songs that have a real heartfelt message.”
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Where are you? We want more of your lovely music!!! | Reviewer: Misty La Rosa | 11/24/13
Where are you? What are you doing now? I love your music and want more! The world is being deprived of an awesome talent if you don't make some more music for us, or is it there and I haven't found it. We are waiting for more!!! I am a school counselor and a little girl's step dad was abusive. Her mother made him leave and she cried because he left and cried because she was afraid he would come back. I played her "Stay Gone" for her to help her through it. She hugs me every day. One of those hugs is for you for the song you sang that helped her that day.
Jimmy's story needs to go viral! | Reviewer: Wanda | 10/1/13
Just finished watching " I wonder how Jesus felt" on u tube. That song touched my soul and I really feel the world needs to hear it! Jimmy Wayne has a gift and a message for the world. Back in 2005 I knew he was special when he sang "I love you this much".
THANK GOD FOR BEATRICE AND RUSSELL | Reviewer: Anne | 3/8/13
Hi Sweet Jimmy,
I just heard your testimony and song for the first time. I want to encourage you to never stop loving God and serving HIM with that blessed voice HE gave you. He promised to never leave you or forsake you. His word never comes back void. He proved that by putting Bea and Russell into your life. HE wanted you to see the heart of Jesus so HE used those two precious saints with flesh on, but it was HIM inside! Very awesome the work of our Lord!
You matter to God! He created you for this purpose. Thank you Lord for my brother Jimmy! What a blessing it was to hear you. God bless you.
Many needy children in America | Reviewer: Michelle | 3/8/13
Hi mr. Wayne, I am a grandma like bea and appreciate your.work with
Foster kids....so needed! Inspires others and churches to cover their
Needs///come and speak to churches, show us how to be Gods hands
HE will lead you and use you....Forgiveness is key!
FORGIVENESS WITHOUT REGRETS | Reviewer: BETTY betty | 3/9/13
WOW WOW SAW YOU ON TBN PROGRAM. THIS GIVES ME THE COURGE TO CONTINUE TO PRAY AND ENCOURGE MY GRANDSON WHO IS STRUGGING TO FIND HIS PLACE IN THIS WORLD.GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU WITH FAVOR AND STAY GROUNDED.peace PEACE BE WITH YOU,.
God Bless You! | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/29/12
Saw you at the Grand Ole Opry on November 27th. Loved your music and the power of the words of your songs. You are a testimony to the power of our God! Keep up the work you are doing.
A soft place to land | Reviewer: Deb T | 11/15/12
I have always wanted to be part of establishing a home for needy children. Do you remember BoysTown? Now that I have given my son and daughter the tools they need to move on with their lives, I would like to try and help children who are in need of a loving home. I have never known where or how to start. Would u be intereted in working with me and my husband...Deb & Peter T
Blessed Man | Reviewer: l. c. johnson | 9/13/12
God knew Jimmy Wayne since before the beginning of the world and had a set plan for him the evil tried to eliminate. But when God has something for you nothing can take it from you no matter what evil tries to do to stop it. When you go through dark shadows of life you come out stronger and you see clearer. This is what took place in this singers' life. God never left him or forsaked him. He may have felt that way, but he came through it a champion. God and all heaven continues to smile at Jimmy Wayne. He was and will always be loved.
Pamela | Reviewer: Pam | 8/31/12
...just saw jimmy perform at grand ole opry, Nashville........he is an awesome singer and his songs are truly inspirational.....God Bless him....his life story amazing....not to mention he's a cutie !!!
Jimmy Wayne at the Grand Ole Opry...How Jesus Felt | Reviewer: Regina | 7/28/12
We just saw Jimmy Wayne at the Grand Ole Opry. The song How Jesus Felt moved me to tears. His story is incredible. He is truly one of God's messengers....my own daughter has leukemia and when people ask me how can you have faith? My answer is clear....How can we NOT! You touched my soul tonight Jimmy Wayne. Thank you. Isaiah 41:10 Fear not for I am your God. Do not be afraid Jimmy Wayne....He's got you.
Great performance at The Grand Ole Opry | Reviewer: Terri | 7/13/12
We just saw Jimmy Wayne at The Grand Ole Opry. He was amazing and received a standing ovation. Thank you for sharing your amazing story and for your passion for the foster care program and for kids not aging out of the system at the young age of 18. I wish you such success. Your voice is beautiful.
His song So Do You Believe Me Now is great! | Reviewer: Anonymous | 12/5/11
This artist is really different. I really loved the song do you believe me now. The song really touches my heart. I think a lot of folks can relate to it. If you have a gal, hold her tight and never let her get away. Most of all, never give her an excuse to look at another man.
your biography has put tears in my eyes | Reviewer: ALOK KUMAR | 4/23/11
hello Jimmy..I listened to your song "I love you this much" what a song & the video is just amazing.Its like everything is going so real..I got anxious to read your biography here and it shook my soul so violently tht it cant be expressed in words..You were brought in this world to be on top even when i read abt you ...the hard life you had ..no love from your parents ..a couple taking u as their own kid..the lady putting u before God to bless you and i feel you reached to this level just becoz of her and the blessings you had from God above...you had a mission in life..and you did it..I SALUTE YOU FOR EMERGING FROM SO MUCH OF HARDSHIPS AND CARVING YOURSELF TO BE SUCH A WONDERFUL SOUL ..Keep putting up nice songs for this world to hear and experience ..God bless you always I am a die hard fan of yours love u Jimmy...hope u conduct a tour for India too....so i could see u personally performing ....tc Alok
amaizing | Reviewer: Carol | 2/14/10
You have an amaizing story to tell. No mater where you are in life and what you have done there is a heavenly father watching and waiting to show you his true love. I love you this much tells it beautifully. May God use you. We all can learn from Russell and Beatrice on reach out and showing love to those that come into our lives.
Just Discovered Your Voice | Reviewer: Teresa Turner | 10/23/09
Just discovered your awesome voice and music in September 2009. Bought CD and oh my goodness!! One song is better than the other. Have told my Daughter, Son and Sister about you. All have your CD's now. Can't wait to see you in concert!!! and,
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