Author, Paper Angels (2010)
Hit songs include #1 Hit single “Do You Believe Me Now?”, "Stay Gone," "I Love You This Much" and "Paper Angels"
Created an organization, Project Meet Me Halfway
Youngest-ever recipient of the Salvation Army's William Booth Award
Associates degree in Criminal Justice from Gaston College in North Carolina
Jimmy Wayne: Paper Angels
The 700 Club
IT’S NOT HOW YOU START
Jimmy Wayne has had a steady career in country music since 1999. He started as a songwriter with country artist Tracy Byrd singing his first musical offering, “Put Your Hand in Mine.” Soon, Jimmy signed his first label deal, based on his performance of the pop classic "Sara Smile." His self-titled album was quickly released with the hit singles "Stay Gone," "I Love You This Much," and "Paper Angels." Then his most popular single to date, “Do You Believe Me Now?” had the #1 spot for three weeks. Jimmy has a natural gift of storytelling and has spoken about important issues through his music. Songs like "Where You're Going," "Kerosene Kid," and "Paper Angels" address issues faced by young people, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds. This is something Jimmy knows a lot about because he used to be one.
Jimmy grew up in Kings Mountain, NC. By the time he was 14, he had been in and out of the foster care system and attended twelve different schools in two years. Jimmy’s mother was in prison, and he had only his older sister, Patricia. When he was 15-years-old, he found himself in juvenile detention for running away from a group home.
At 16, he was still surviving by his wits and living on the streets. One day he went door-to-door looking for work and he met Bea and Russell Costner. The Costners were in their 70s when they met Jimmy. They gave him love, encouragement and a stable home. Along with these, he was able to complete his education. During this time with the Costners, he also learned how to play guitar and started to write songs. Jimmy had always been a writer so songwriting seemed to be a natural extension of what he was already doing.
FROM CRIMINAL JUSTICE TO COUNTRY MUSIC
Following high school graduation, Jimmy continued his education and earned a degree in Criminal Justice. He then went to work at the North Carolina Department of Corrections in Dallas, NC. Though it was a tough place to work, Jimmy received a lot of encouragement for his music from the inmates and some of the staff. He found out that there was a talent competition in the area that was being judged by a Nashville executive, Mike Whelan. Though Jimmy did not win, Mike Whelan encouraged him to move to Nashville and try songwriting. Soon, Jimmy signed to Acuff-Rose Publishing and shortly he had his first Top 10 hit single, “Put Your Hand in Mine,” which was recorded by Tracy Byrd. From there, his music career grew. He is currently working on a new music project that he feels may be his most definitive album.
MORE THAT WORDS
After putting his life experiences to music, Jimmy felt he had to do more. In December 2009, Jimmy was having a cup of coffee and comfortable in his Nashville house. He was recalling the tour he had completed earlier in the year with Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley and felt really blessed. Then, a guilty feeing came over him. He didn’t feel like he had done anything to make a difference. He got an idea…what if he walked halfway across the country to raise awareness about the youth who age out of the foster care system with nowhere to go? On January 1, 2010, he began a 1700-mile walk from Nashville to Phoenix, AZ to raise awareness of at risk youth in the Foster Care system who age out at 18, and without any support, often find themselves homeless. Ultimately, they would need to do their part as well by taking advantage of their opportunities and working to make their own lives better. He called his project "Meet Me Halfway" as a play on words. The walk would be halfway across the country, he would find supporters who would "meet him halfway" by volunteering and helping to spread the word, and he would interview with media outlets to generate publicity and awareness of the issue. Jimmy crossed the finish line in Phoenix on August 1, 2010.
He also joined politicians in capital cities and the Nation’s Capital to rally Representatives for support, and joined organizations like CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate Association – a nonprofit network supporting and promoting court appointed volunteer and advocacy for abused and neglected children so they can thrive in safe and permanent homes) and Foster Clubs of America to speak out for these kids.
“Paper Angels” is a hit song from Jimmy’s debut album. It is also the name of Jimmy’s latest book he wrote with co-author Travis Thrasher. Though the song is more about the experience and brings awareness to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, the book is more of an in-depth look at the program and is another way of raising awareness. Jimmy says it took a while to get to the final story of “Paper Angels.” Though there are a lot of themes in the book like faith, bullying, giving, the Angel Tree Program/Salvation Army, the key message of the book is to give back.
The story is about a husband and father, Kevin Morrell, whose life is changed one December by a simple act of kindness. Kevin runs a successful design and marketing firm. During the holidays, Kevin comes upon the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Project at the mall. His wife insists that he take one of the paper angels. The name on the ornament is Thomas Brandt, a fifteen-year-old whose mother, Lynn, has just left his abusive alcoholic father. It seems the only thing Thomas and his family have to hold onto is their faith. Together they learn the true meaning of Christmas.
Jimmy says the story is definitely inspired by his own life, but the characters are not based on who you might think they would be. The characters are a compilation of people in the authors’ lives. Contrary to the belief that the main character of “Thomas” is Jimmy, Jimmy says “Thomas” is really based on his sister, Patricia. He says the character of “Sarah” is more like him. Jimmy loves the character of “Kevin,” which he and co-author Travis wrote in Travis’ wife’s real-life pregnancy with twins into the story.
DO YOUR PART
If you want to start reaching out, Jimmy says you could get started by doing your part. This starts in your community. You could help at a local charitable house. You could donate money, time, anything… whatever resources you have. Whatever you have is good and there is plenty to do. People need to be open to giving. It can make a big difference. Jimmy says 30% of the population is children but they are 100% of the future. We have been focusing on the things we shouldn’t focus on and we have a lost generation. Though he has been successful and has experienced a lot, Jimmy says he doesn’t remember all of that. What he can remember is the kindness that was shown to him. He has a platform, he uses it to help people, God keeps giving him more, and he keeps giving back.
Jimmy encourages other people to give. He says continuing to get more is useless. Give to God. Give stuff away – somebody could need that…just do it…give.
Since an early age, Jimmy’s faith and relationship with God has been very dear and personal to him. Jesus has always been in his life. Jimmy has always believed in living his faith by example and few words. When Jimmy lived with the Costners, he says the love they showed him spoke volumes. He saw that this was how they lived their faith and it inspired him to live his life the same way. It is important for Jimmy to do his part with what God has given him.
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