Buddy Jewell: Sweet Southern Comfort
By Mia Evans-Saracual
The 700 Club
For Buddy Jewell, winning the country music singing competition Nashville Star came as a complete shock back in 2003.
Buddy Jewell: I truly believe if that if God really wanted to, He could create a little show like Nashville Star just to give me my break. I believe that’s how much He loves me too.
Mia Evans-Saracual: When they announced your name as the winner, what was going through your mind?
Jewell: I just knew there was no way I was gonna win. I thought every Saturday I was going to be voted off. Here I am this big guy I’m crying. I think the first words out of my mouth were, “Thank you Jesus,” and I meant it.
Buddy, the first “Nashville Star”, instantly topped the country music charts. His debut album went gold, with hits like "Sweet Southern Comfort" and pour out the rain.
Evans-Saracual: Have things calmed down yet?
Jewell: Yeah, they have. Sometimes a little too calm for me. I’ve had some incredible moments in my life, and I’ve been able to step back and go, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m getting to do this.’ It’s all because of God’s blessing.
Before his big break, Buddy recorded hundreds of demos for some of country’s biggest names. But after ten years of trying to make a name for himself in Nashville, Buddy hit a brick wall.
Evans-Saracual: You went to almost every major record label and got rejection after rejection.
Jewell: I went to everyone of ‘em!
Evans-Saracual: What kept you going instead of saying, ‘You know what, forget it’?
Jewell: God kept me here. But I would get to the point where they love my singing but ‘You don’t look like a star. You’re too fat. You’re too this, you’re too that.‘ You know something would come along where I thought I would get a record deal that would renew my fervor and keep me here. I tell people I thought I was coming to Nashville to be the next Garth Brooks. No, actually you’re coming to Nashville for God to sober you up and straighten your life out.
It’s easy now for Buddy to laugh off the old memories of his past. But when he was 17, his parents’ divorce nearly crushed him.
Jewell: It really broke my heart. I felt a lot of shame and guilt, and I don’t blame them for the decisions that I made because I made those decisions and it was all on me.
Buddy decided to start drinking.
Jewell: I started like a lot of kids do peer pressure, because of the things I was going through, medicating my feelings, pushing it all down. It worked for a while. Then one thing led to another and that led to marijuana. Marijuana led to cocaine and other drugs, just experimenting with anything you could imagine by the time I was 21 years old.
Buddy had a job, playing in a band and touring the south. But sadly he doesn’t remember much of it.
Jewell: Thirteen years of my life are a blur. That was all I lived for, and it wasn’t necessarily the drinking. It was the escape, whether it was the marijuana or other drugs or alcohol. I was just running from myself. I was running from God, too, I guess.
In his mind, Buddy rationalized the choices he made.
Jewell: “I can get high and go drink a six-pack of beer and get out and drive a car and I do great at it.” When, in reality, you’re lying to yourself.
One night after a show in Texas, his reckless behavior caught up with him.
Jewell: On my way home, the blue lights came on. I was drunk, and I had a little marijuana on me. So I went to jail. They put me in the orange suit. I don’t look good in orange, by the way. It finally helped me realize I had a problem. I wasn’t the man God created me to be.
Buddy was released the next morning. Two days later his family packed up and moved to Nashville. There, he joined alcoholics anonymous.
Jewell: For a good three years, I was really involved in the program and it saved my life and my marriage. I’m so grateful God put that there for people like me.
Buddy committed to live his life God’s way just as he had done at the age of seven when he first gave his life to Jesus.
Jewell: My walk got closer with Him. God just changed my heart. I don’t have that desire to live that kind of life and be that way anymore. I think that’s made all the difference.
Buddy sings about Jesus in his latest single, "Somebody Who Would Die For You", which has climbed the Christian country music charts. He launched his own label, diamond dust records and now he’s busy in the studio working on a new album.
Jewell: I’ve been praying about this a lot and I’ve had a lot of my fans ask me when are you going to do a Gospel album? I’d love to do that and I think that may be where God is leading me to go. That’s fine with me. Looking back on my life in my darkest moments and seeing all the times where I didn’t care if I saw another sunrise, God was there all along taking care of me. Even when I wasn’t taking care of me. I truly believe that as long as God is involved there is hope.
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