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Country Music Stars Trades Brokenness for Worship

Beloved singer-songwriter Jessi Colter opens up about standing by her husband, Wayland Jennings, and her journey back to her Christian roots. Read Transcript


NARRATOR: Jessi Colter, a name etched

in country music history.

A singer and songwriter, Jessi's first big hit

came in 1975 with "I'm not Lisa" that topped both country

and pop music charts.

She's also known for her rocky marriage

to the late country music legend, Waylon Jennings

and for standing by him as he fought

his own demons of addiction.

We met with Jessi at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

in Nashville where she talked about her new memoir, An Outlaw

and a Lady, a book about her marriage to Waylon

and her journey to a lasting faith in Jesus.

Born Mirriam Johnson in Phoenix, Jessie's faith

was shaped by her mother, a Pentecostal evangelist.

It was her faith, her faith in God, her staying attached

to God in prayer, in praise.

A heritage of faith is what I'm talking about.

It is better than money, celebrity.

It's a marvelous something that's implanted in you,

you know, that can't be forsaken for long.

NARRATOR: At 18, she met and married producer and pop

star, Dwayne Eddy.

Intrigued by his philosophy on life of intellectualism

and objectivism, she began to question her Christian beliefs.

I had looked into Buddhism.

I was into this [INAUDIBLE] book.

I had accepted [INAUDIBLE], existence

exists, there is no big universe, Father,

all this stuff.

I thought, well maybe Christ came as Krishna, maybe

he came as Buddha.

The places I walked are not places that I would recommend.

I thought this is really intellectual,

this is really smart.

I was looking in all the places and not finding what I needed.

NARRATOR: As Jessi drifted further from God,

her marriage started unraveling.

After six years, the couple divorced.

By then, Jessi and Waylon had collaborated

on several projects.

As the two continued sharing their mutual love for music,

they became inseparable.

They married in 1969, forming a country music power duo

that achieved rapid success.

We were kind of surprised and happy.

It was just that simple.

We didn't know the impact of what

it was going to do until Waylon went down to Texas

and found the young people were really discovering our music.

NARRATOR: The couple released two top 40 singles, "Suspicious

Minds" and "Under Your Spell".

Then in 1975, Jessi released her breakthrough

single, "I'm Not Lisa".

The following year, she and Waylon

were featured on the groundbreaking album, Wanted!

The Outlaws with country legends Willie Nelson

and Tompall Glasser.

Both had children from previous marriages

and Jessi says Waylon loved all of them.

But his growing addiction to cocaine

was tearing their marriage apart.

And Waylon was so much fun and so celebrative and so creative

that he was great to be around.

But I came to a point where I feel like it was

getting physically destructive.

And I just had to make a decision.

And one day I was opening the door to this little house

we lived in and I said, well there's always God.

All you can do is pray.

At certain points, that's all you can do.

NARRATOR: In 1976, Jessi turned her heart, her marriage,

and her husband over to God.

I had good reason to leave the marriage

and I had a day in my life, on my knees, after fasting.

I said, I know you'd bless me.

If I leave you bless me, if I stay.

No matter what I want, what do you want?

And those points of submission are amazing what happens.

And I stayed.

And so from that time on, I knew that, you know,

my spiritual Father was my partner.

And I was there for Waylon and I was there for Him.

NARRATOR: She says only then was she

able to love Waylon with the love of God

and pray for her husband.

Then in 1979, they had a son, Waylon Shooter Jennings.

Five years later, Waylon got over his addiction to cocaine.

He quit cold turkey, as Jessi poured

his last stash of the drug in the toilet and flushed it away.

In that moment, she shouted Hallelujah.

But one prayer had yet to be answered.

I was so excited when I came back into my faith

and wanted so for him to share that.

But he wasn't there.

And so I had to learn through trial and error

to just live it.

And I did.

NARRATOR: By 2001, Waylon's health

had been deteriorating for years.

On Thanksgiving Day, he gave his life to Jesus.

He said, the rest of my life is going

to be a mark for the good.

He made that decision.

NARRATOR: A few months later, in 2002, he

passed away due to complications from diabetes.

Jessi found peace in knowing he had

accepted Jesus in his heart.

Jessi recently released an album called, The Psalms.

She says she sees traces of her own life

through the story of the biblical character, David.

You know, David so speaks to our human condition.

He gets so mad, he gets so troubled.

And yet he always comes to worship.

If you read the Psalms you just can't miss yourself.

It will show you yourself.

NARRATOR: Through that, Jessi hopes

people discover how God's love can restore the broken parts

of their lives.

And if we just say, you know, I just need you.

I need you to be in this.

He knows me better than I do.

He's been truly the lover of my soul.

I'm hoping that it gives people some direction.

And, you know, acknowledging the power of prayer

because I'm a prayer answered.

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