Buddy Jewell Interview

Buddy Jewell Interview

By Big Al Weekley for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Buddy Jewell burst onto the country music scene after winning the inaugural season of the USA Network’s hit television series “Nashville Star.” After Buddy’s win, Columbia Records released his self-titled debut album “Buddy Jewell” which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Album charts as well as #13 on the Top 100 Pop Album Charts. The album was certified Gold later that same year, selling over ½ million copies. Buddy’s first two singles, “Sweet Southern Comfort” and “Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey’s Song)” both landed in the top 5 on the singles chart. Jewell has since followed up with 5 more albums, “Times Like These,” “Country Enough” , “I Surrender All”, “Wanted : LIVE “and his newest release, “My Father’s Country.”

After living throughout the Arkansas Delta in Dyess, Helena-West Helena and Forrest City, Buddy’s family finally settled in Osceola. That’s not far from Dyess, where his mother and father grew up with the Cash family…as in Johnny Cash. Conway Twitty hailed from nearby Helena, and Glen Campbell is a native of Delight. Jewell was influenced by the music of all three. Both of his parents were musical, and there were stacks of classic country records around the house. His uncles Clyde and Hubert taught Jewell to play guitar. Enthralled with the instrument, he began performing publicly, mainly in church, at age 15.

Buddy Jewell was also 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. While in college, he began to perform in clubs and talent contests, igniting his passion for performing and country music.

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 coast to coast. He has also driven a beer truck and worked as a nightclub bouncer. Buddy knows the meaning of hard work and perseverance.

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In 1985, Jewell became the lead singer of the country band White Oak based in Camden, Arkansas. The group signed up with a booking agency that also represented Canyon, Lariat and Bayou Speak Easy, the last of which was fronted by the then-unknown Trace Atkins. Buddy was making progress, but finally realized that if he was going to get anywhere musically, the family would have to move to Nashville. In January of 1993, Buddy, his wife Tené and their 3 year old son, Buddy III, took that giant leap of faith.

Songwriters and music publishers loved him. The record companies did not. Buddy Jewell 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. And believe it or not, he missed out on another opportunity because a tornado struck blocks away from a label showcase, knocking out the power! Buddy 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.

Fast forward two years…encouraged by his wife, Tené, Buddy entered the USA Network’s contest Nashville Star in 2003. Thousands of performers tried out for the show; 125 of them made it to the semi-finals; 12 were chosen for the nine-week series. Buddy was the true viewer favorite from the premiere episode, capturing 65% of the nationwide voting among the 12 contestants and beating out, most notably, a young Miranda Lambert, by over 2 million votes on the final episode. TV audiences and critics alike fell in love with Buddy Jewell’s gentility, enthusiasm and true musical passion. Columbia Records rushed him into the studio with producer Clint Black, and within two weeks Buddy Jewell delivered his superb debut CD.

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, their version of the Best New Artist of the Year and a Grammy nomination for his participation in Amazing Grace III, a special gospel project. He was also named “New Artist of the Year” by the prestigious ABC Radio Networks.

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