P.O. BOX 456 - WINCHESTER, VA 22604
1- 540-722-4625

 

 

BUDDY JEWELL

 

Buddy Jewell's voice is the voice of experience. It has a friendly, ''lived in'' quality because, as the old saying goes, he has ''been around.'' Born to a working-class family in Arkansas, Jewell has been singing for his supper since the age of 21, from Texas to Tennessee. He has also been a nightclub bouncer, worked as a door-to-door salesman, driven a beer truck, and labored on a loading dock. He is a husband, a father and a ''man's man''.

The year that followed his win on Nashville Star was truly a dream fulfilled for Buddy. He earned major award nominations from the ACM for Best New Artist, the CMA for the Horizon Award, a CMT Flameworthy Breakout Video nod and a Grammy nomination for his participation on the country gospel compilation album, Amazing Grace III. He also won critical acclaim from ABC Radio Network's for their 2003 Listener's Choice Award for New Artist of the Year and Music Row magazine's Critic's Pick Award. But, perhaps his proudest moment was in April 2005, when Buddy was honored by the National Fatherhood Initiative as a recipient of their annual Fatherhood Award. Recipients of this award are individuals who exemplify the ideals of involved, responsible and committed fatherhood.

Buddy was mainly raised in Osceola, Arkansas, a small agricultural/industrial community in Northeast Arkansas. . That's not far from Dyess, where his mother and father grew up with Johnny Cash. Conway Twitty hailed from nearby Helena, and Glen Campbell is a native of Delight. Both of his parents were musical, and there were stacks of classic country records around the house. His Uncle Clyde taught Jewell to play guitar around age 15.

Buddy Jewell was a natural athlete, playing baseball, basketball and football. He was team captain and quarterback of his high school team and played college football at Arkansas State University as well. But while in college, he began to perform in clubs and talent contests, igniting his passion for writing and singing country music.

Jewell's first son, Buddy III, came along in 1989 while living in Dallas. In 1990, he landed a job singing at Six Flags Over Texas. But that show wanted him to cut his hair, so he quickly took a role in the park's cowboy/gunfight production instead. At night, he continued to sing in clubs. In 1991 he entered a talent contest sponsored by the superstar group Alabama, which led to him opening for the band in concert. The following year he competed on TV's Star Search, winning Male Vocalist on several episodes. He was making progress, but finally realized that if he was going to get anywhere musically, the family would have to move to Nashville.

In between all those working-stiff jobs, Jewell began to make contacts on Music Row. His larger-than-life voice eventually made him one of Nashville's most popular ''demo'' singers. That's an anonymous vocalist who is hired to record a demonstration of a song that is then played for a star's consideration. George Strait's ''Write This Down,'' Lee Ann Womack's ''A Little Past Little Rock,'' Clay Walker's ''You're Beginning to Get to Me'' and Gary Allan's ''The One'' were all first sung as Buddy Jewell demos. He has recorded more than 4,000 such tapes. In 1997, alone, Jewell sang 663 song demos. But he yearned for something more. He wanted a shot at the big time.

Songwriters and music publishers loved him. The record companies did not. Buddy became increasingly frustrated as he was turned down for a recording contract by one label after another on Music Row. One offer evaporated when the interested label shut down. Another one vanished when the label was sold. He kept on patiently singing demos with dignity, slowly letting his recording-contract dream die. Daughter Lacey came along in 1993. Second son Joshua was born in 2000.

Encouraged by a church friend and his wife, Ten�, Buddy entered the USA Network's contest Nashville Star in 2003. More than 8,000 performers tried out for the show; 125 of them made it to the semi-finals; 12 were chosen for the nine-week series. The national television audience reacted powerfully to Jewell's heart-in-throat vocal performances and voted him the champion. Columbia Records rushed him into the studio with producer Clint Black, and within weeks Buddy Jewell delivered his superb debut CD.

''I had a little website. The first night I sang 'Help Pour Out the Rain' on the show, it had so many responses that it crashed the website and cost me $600. I didn't have a clue that the song would have that kind of impact. Ten� and I started printing out emails off the site. A lot of them were from parents whose children had died. I got hundreds of letters. We collected the print-outs and letters and put them in a binder. Not for public consumption. Just for ourselves. I'm honored that I had a hand in creating something that means so much to people. But it was bittersweet. You wish that it was for a happier reason.

''A week after I won on the show, I was getting offers to do concerts. I had to make decisions quickly. I had to make the record, chose a manager, find a booking agent, get an accountant, put together a band and hire a road manager. When you utter those words, 'I want a record deal,' you never realize what you're asking for!''

''I went from somebody who was home all the time to somebody that was doing 120 shows or more a year. When I leave on the bus, the kids sometimes get pretty teary-eyed about it. But all in all, I think we've adjusted pretty well.''

During the school year, sometimes the family travels with him if he's just going out for a weekend. In the summer months, the kids enjoy going to the various fairs where Jewell is booked, romping on the midways, riding rides and eating corn dogs and cotton candy Ever the fan, Jewell is thrilled that he's met such idols as George Jones, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton, in the past couple years.

''When I was nominated for the Horizon Award at the CMA's, I got to share a dressing room with Kris Kristofferson and Hank Williams Jr. At the BMI banquet, Loretta Lynn kissed me!''

Buddy Jewell has become one of Nashville's most visible charity volunteers. He has been the spokesperson for the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation, frequently does events for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, participates in the Angel Tree fund drive, performed on the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon, volunteered for Compassion International and is active in a number of other causes locally and nationally.

''I see this as an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives. And maybe that is really what my purpose as an artist is. If they want me, I'll do my best to be there to hopefully make a difference, especially if kids are involved''.

''I'm the same guy I've always been. Same house. Same car. But the car is paid off now, and hopefully in another year the house will be, too. We're doing little things, fixing it up one room at a time. Only one thing has changed: I'm having the time of my life.''