Buddy Jewell Country Singer/Songwriter

He was the very first winner of USA Networks hit reality show “Nashville Star”.
He captured 65% of the nationwide voting, beating out all other contestants including Miranda Lambert by over 2 million votes on the final episode!
His self-titled Columbia Records debut release went to number one on the Billboard Top Country Album Charts and was certified Gold later that same year producing two back-to-back Top Five hits with “Sweet Southern Comfort” and “Help Pour Out The Rain (Lacey’s Song)”. Both songs were certified by the RIAA as having 1 million radio airplay’s.
He’s been recognized by the Grammys, ACM, CMA, ABC Radio Networks, ICMA, ICGMA and CMT with multiple awards and nominations.
In 2011, he won The International Country Gospel music Associations entertainer of the year and crossover artist of the year awards.
In 2015, he was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame.
In 2018, his number one Christian Country hit “I’m There” won the ICMA “Song Of The Year” and in April 2019 he won the ICMA “Male Vocalist Of The Year.”
Throughout his career he supported and entertained American troops at home and abroad. He did an extensive USO tour to promote remote operating bases on the front lines in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.
And, if all that isn’t enough he’s released a rebooted version of his 2003 hit “Sweet Southern Comfort” along with some help from his friends Clint Black. The Bellamy Brothers and Marty Raybon. The gentleman we are talking about is-Mr. Buddy Jewell.

Q – Buddy if you’re going to be a country singer, does it help if you’re born and raised in the South? If you’re from New Jersey or Rhode Island, you might have a problem. What you think?
A – (Laughs). I don’t know. You say that and I immediately think of Jo Dee Messina. I think Ray Benson is from Pennsylvania and he winds up down in Texas with “Asleep At The Wheel.” I don’t know. I don’t think it hurts any to be born in the South and kind of live that life coming up. It certainly helps writing the music as far as I’m concerned, writing from the point of view of life. Drawing off the experiences of living. It certainly doesn’t hurt any. As a kid my dad was a big influence on the kind of music that I grew up listening to and eventually learned how to play. He loved Marty Robbins and Johnny Horton. Guys like that. As a kid I remember he had a little like a suitcase. It was white it was an RCA Record Player and he pick it up and carry it around. I would stack like 33 1/3 LPs on it as high as I could and get him before they start falling down and listen to great country stuff. Mom and Dad grew up with Johnny Cash in a little town in Northeast Arkansas. I was born not too far from there. So, I was influenced by country music a lot, very early on.

Q – Did your parents know Johnny Cash?
A – Yeah, they did. This little town they lived in was called Dyess, Arkansas. The Cachs’ lived there in the 1930s if I’m not mistaken. My Dad’s older brother Hubert, was really good friends with Johnny. There were only about 500 people that lived in that town so everybody knew everybody. Tommy, Johnny’s brother, when dad was a senior, and Tommy was a sophomore, they played basketball together. Some of the girls used to go to Mom’s house to play the piano. It was a pretty small community. So, I heard about Johnny Cash early, early on.

Q – When did you know you could sing and write songs? At what age?
A – I was one of those guys that started playing in little church choirs, probably from the time, gosh, when I was in kindergarten. That’s my earliest recollection of singing. It took until probably high school. I was part of an ensemble at my church choir. There were four guys and four girls that went around singing doing little concerts. Our music director had picked us from all the other kids in the choir. I started playing guitar when I was 14. When I got into college, some of my buddies talked me into entering a talent contest at Arkansas State. I came in second. That was kind of when I thought maybe I can actually do this. I wouldn’t have come in second if I was really bad. That’s kind of the starting point for me. And of course I started getting noticed by the girls a little more after that. (Laughs.) At that age that’s a big influence, a big push for me.

Q – You’re saying that’s when you thought you should really pursue music as a profession.
A – Yes. I was going to school I walked on the football team. I had an academic scholarship to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I chose to go there because at that point in time because they had one of the best radio/TV programs in the country. I thought I wanted to get into maybe being a television news anchor or be on the other side of the microphone then where I wound up now. But, I met a guy when I was doing that little ensemble thing in my church. We went to do a little talk show in Memphis. I grew up about an hour north of Memphis. There was an a.m. radio station there, WHBQ and a guy by the name of Rick Dees was the morning guy there. Back in the 70s he had a song, when disco was coming out, he had this song called “Disco Duck.” I’ve never been inside of a radio or TV station. I was really fascinated by everything I was looking at. He’s in there brushing his teeth and I’m like, “Oh, Wow!” Rick Dees. To a 16-year-old kid at that point in time that was the most famous person I’d ever met. I heard him on the radio every morning. We got to talking. He said, “If you’re interested in this I’d go on to television because the money is better.” That’s when I started thinking about going to school to get into radio/TV broadcasting and that’s when I went to Arkansas state and the tacket contest. Life takes its twists and turns and I wound up singing country music for a living.

Q – If there was not a show like “Nashville Star” would it have been harder for you to get your career moving along?
A – I think it would have been impossible man. I moved to Nashville in 1993 and about a year later I started getting work as a demo singer. Back in the mid to late 90s I was told I was one of if not the most in demand make demo singer’s in town there for a few years. I sang on thousands of demos. I would have writers call and say, “Hey man, I played your stuff for the guy at RCA or Warner Bros. or whatever the other day and the guys stopped at that time the tape and say “That’s Buddy Jewell singing isn’t it?” The writer would say, “Yeah.” The guy would say, yeah, “He’s a great singer”. But, they never would say “Maybe I should sign him to a deal.” And I did that for 10 years. I got turned down by every major (label) two times at least and all the independents. Crazy stuff happened. I had a showcase from Mercury Records that they set up for me, a guy named Carson Chamberlain, he was an ANR guy over there and he was trying to get me signed. A tornado hit downtown Nashville that afternoon while we were rehearsing and knocked out the power so we couldn’t do the audition or showcase. And then by the time they got the showcase rescheduled several months later there’d been a big change in the upper level at Mercury and they weren’t interested anymore. Then I had another little label. I had actually signed a deal and sent the contract back and they went out of business (laughs), before they could countersign. Crazy stuff like that. If Nashville Star didn’t come along, man I might very well still be singing demos. I tell people all the time that God knows me enough that he would go out of his way to create a little confusion over my record deal because no one was going to give me one and they had to give me one if I won the TV show.

Q – You Persisted and here you are!
A- Yeah. I remember talking to Harlan Howard because worked for every great writer in town in the 90’s and the lawyer for Harlan who I was talking to one afternoon told me, “You just hang in there kid. You stay in the game long enough it’ll finally come back around.” And, it did in a sense with the T.V. Show.

Q – It almost seems like country artists seem to know each other and treat each other with respect. If you were in a bar or restaurant and you saw someone like Garth Brooks or Chris Stapleton or Jason Aldean would you be able to go over and say hello to them? Would they come over and say hello to you? Does everybody know everybody?
A – You know, I’d say back in the day, because it was 20 years ago when I kind of hit my stride. I think so of course Stapleton wasn’t around yet. Jason Aldean was probably the same time as me. But yeah everybody kind of knows each other. We would see each other at awards shows and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” In passing. In a restaurant situation, probably. I met Garth Brooks at George Jones’s funeral. I don’t know if Garth would’ve come and said hello or not. He seems like he’s a pretty cool guy so he might have. I know if I saw him, one thing for sure, I would’ve said hello! (Laughs). I would’ve introduced myself to him.

Q – You have Clint Black, the Bellamy Brothers and Marty Raybon on your CD. How did you get those people to help you out on your CD?
A – Well, I did two records for Sony. When I won the TV show part of the deal was Clint, who was my mentor on the TV show, was going to produce whoever won the TV show, the first record. We put together a great record. We work together really good. I really enjoyed working with him. I consider him a friend. We still talk or text every now and then. Not whole bunch. When it came up for the 20th anniversary of “Sweet Southern Comfort”, the release of it, the guy who kind of helped book and manage me said, “Hey, why don’t you do a rerelease of that song and see if you can get some of the other folks in the industry to get on it with you?” Clint was the first person I got in touch with. He immediately said, “Yeah, man, what do you need me to do?” I’ll play harp. Sing. Just give me the notes to do. And then a great friend of mine who plays bass for me and produced by last record Mitchell Brown who’s been in the business along time, knows like everybody. He’s got a guy named Donnie Allen of Shenandoah, who plays banjo for them, to play on my record. Mitchell produced the cut. He said, Donnie loves your music and he would go to Marty (Raybon) of Shenandoah and see if he wants to sing on it. I’ve met Marty a time or two and he’s a great guy. So, Donnie went and approached Marty for us and he came aboard. The crazy thing about the Bellamy’s is I probably met them in passing a time or two at award shows or doing CMA week. I guess they kind of knew who I was and I knew who they were. I’d open for them in late 2022. I opened for them in North Carolina. After the show I got invited to hang out on the bus a little bit and spend a little time with them. It was right about the time we were starting to put the record together and I thought well heck, all they can do is say no. So, we got in touch with David and Howard said, absolutely. We’d love to get on it. I was actually astounded that I got all three of those entities on the record with me so, I’m very proud of that. In fact, I didn’t even realize after everything was all kind of said and done in doing marketing stuff for it. I realized that they had like four decades of country music represented. The Bellamy’s were from the 70s Marty and Clint were from the 80s and 90s and I was from the 2000’s. So, it’s a real cool thing to happen.

Q – I notice you have Buddy Jewell III (the third) a studio musician who plays on your CD. I take it easier son. Would that be right?
A – Yeah that’s my oldest son buddy.

Q – Is he in your band?
A – He is, man. I’m tickled to death to have him. He’s been playing drums for me for seven or eight years now. Something like that. In fact, he’s a great singer and a songwriter on his own. He is not a country singer. He’s more of a John Mayer, Adam Levine. A beautiful, high voice. We’re not even close to his voice sound wise. He has his own group called “Grand Division” and he sings lead for them. He doesn’t play drums for them. He plays drums for me and sings a bit at my shows and I’m blessed to have my kid on the road with me.

Q – I see when you’re not singing or writing you minister to inmates and entertained troops. You must have had a great childhood.
A – Well, man, I’ve been blessed. My family I would say was lower middle class at best. I never remember my dad working two jobs. The family was always real close. My Mom and Dad are both from big families and a lot of them still live nearby. Kind of a picturesque way to grow up. Small town. About 7000 people It was mostly farming. A little bit of industry. An innocent age is the best way to put it. One of those situations where you grow up in a small town and everybody knows everybody. Run around the streets at night and not worry about everything kids have to worry about nowadays. I just always felt like God put me in that position not to just hold on to what I have, but one of those situations where you should share it, kind of spread the wealth for a lack of a better term. I realized some years ago he didn’t bring me to Nashville to become the next George Strait or Garth Brooks. It’s kind of my mission to be more of a one-on-one kind of guy and be a positive influence, a godly influence on the limo driver or the lady at the front desk of the hotel. I just kind of did it as a one on one thing. I’ve always really appreciated the military. I had several family members that served in the past. As far as giving back to charity, I’m involved in St. Jude because I had a cousin of mine that was a patient there back in the 80s. He passed away at 15 that he stayed around for a long time because of the folks at St. Jude. So, it’s kind of a natural thing for me to get involved with them to. It’s nothing that a lot of other people don’t do especially in the country music field. A lot of people are really generous with their time and try to make a difference and so I do too.

Q – I’m sure it’s appreciated
A – Well, I tell you it’s a blessing for me to do it. The stuff for the troops over in Afghanistan was probably one of the bigger highlights of my life; to go and be with those kids living with them on the bases and going out to remote operating bases in the daytime and doing shows for them. They said it means a lot to them that folks like me would come over and spend time over there. It blessed me as much as it blessed them.

Q – I think one of the strangest things that could happen to you, and maybe it has, is when someone will say “Hey, buddy, can you tell me where Main Street is?” And you say, “How did you know my name?”
A – (Laughs). Ever since I was a kid that would happen. I’d go, “How do you know my name?” For the most part it’s worked out good for me. My dad was nicknamed Buddy as a kid and that’s stuck and I came along and I was Little Buddy for a while and then my son buddy comes along and at one point in time it was Big Buddy, Middle Buddy and Little Buddy. We were all living in the house at the same time and it really confused us once someone hollered for buddy.

Q – The name Buddy served you well. It’s not a bad name. It’s a pretty good name.
A – Yeah. And Jewell is my real last name so it’s not a bad stage name so I hung with it.

Official website: buddyjewell.com

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