Buddy Jewell Joined by Clint Black, Marty Raybon and the Bellamy Brothers on New Recording of “Sweet Southern Comfort”

by Preshias Harris / 426 days ago / Comments
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Buddy Jewell ‘Rocks the Coast’ with Texas Country at Sea

Imagine singing and recording five thousand songs, none of which were ever released with your name on them.  That’s exactly what Buddy Jewell did for many years as one of Nashville’s most in-demand demo singers. He was singing demos – or demonstration recordings – for publishers and songwriters to pitch to record labels and recording artists. It was during his early days in Nashville that I first got to know Buddy Jewell.

Buddy’s voice was recognized up and down Music Row for his ability to interpret the emotion and appeal of a wide variety of musical genres and capture it in just one or two takes. Many of the demos that Buddy sang became hits for artists such as George Strait, Lee Ann Womack, Clay Walker and Gary Allan, to name a few.  One thing eluded this masterful vocalist: his own success as a recording artist.

That all changed when Buddy’s wife Tené persuaded him to enter Nashville Star, a talent contest set to be televised on the USA Network. Buddy was one of thousands who tried out for the show and the 125 hopefuls who made it to the semi-finals. He was selected as one of twelve finalists to appear in the nine-week run of the show and quickly became a viewer favorite. Eventually he was voted the winner of Nashville Star’s inaugural season – two million votes ahead of the second-placed contestant, a young Miranda Lambert. 

Soon after, he was in a recording studio again. But this time, the record would have his name on it, thanks to a record deal with Columbia Records. Produced by Clint Black, the self-titled album quickly earned Gold certification, and the debut single, “Help Pour Out the Rain,” became the highest-debuting single by a new country artist since Nielsen SoundScan began tabulating charts.

I sat down with Buddy Jewell at Country Radio Seminar (CRS) in March and I asked him to tell me what winning Nashville Star meant to him. 

“Well, Preshias, I tell you what, it meant the world to me,” he said.  “I’d been in Nashville for ten years at the time.  Everybody in town, as you well know, had passed on me about a dozen times.  There was no way I was getting a record deal unless God got involved and I tell people all the time, that He loves me enough to create a television show to get me my record deal!  It was a long time to wait but was His timing not mine.  It was one of the most amazing moments of my life.”

I asked Buddy if recording literally thousands of demos over the years shaped his experience in recording his own debut album.

“Experience-wise, when Clint Black and I went into the studio to do that record, I think we set a record for getting an album done fast,” he revealed. “We were done in two weeks. In fact, he made me take a day off. I wanted to keep singing but Clint said, ‘Take a day off,’ and I said, ‘No I’m good. I can record ten songs a day when I’m working. We can do this. I can do all this in two days!’ So singing all those demos really helped a lot.  Every time I could stick a pair of headphones on get behind a mic, I did. I encourage young singers: any time you get a chance to record, do it. You get better every time you do it. And I did it, like you said, five thousand times, so I knew what I was doing by the time I got to record my own album.”

In addition to “Help Pour Out the Rain,” another hit single from that first album was “Sweet Southern Comfort.” And now, Buddy has released a new version of “Sweet Southern Comfort” featuring some very special guests. (Find it at Spotify here.)  We talked abut the original version and the new version of the song that celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the original.

“The one thing they both have in common is Clint Black,” noted Buddy.  “When I was on Nashville Star, Clint was a mentor on that first season and he was going to produce an album for whoever won. So he was the first person I called when we were ready to do the re-record of ‘Sweet Southern Comfort’ because it wouldn’t have been a hit without Clint the first time.” 

Buddy said that Clint Black was so gracious to agree to sing and play harmonica on the new recording. Referring to the other stars who are featured on the new recording, he said, “I’ve always been a huge Marty Raybon fan ever since Shenandoah’s first Number One song, ‘Church on Cumberland Road,’ and of course I’m a fan of the Bellamy Brothers.  I remember being in eighth grade and being on the bus and someone’s got a transistor radio and hearing, ‘Let Your Love Flow.’ I loved their singing from Day One.”

It was only when he was beginning the recording of the new version of “Sweet Southern Comfort” that he suddenly noticed something unique about the project. 

“I didn’t even realize I’d done this, but it shows you how God works,” he admitted. “I’ve got four decades of country music on this song. The Bellamys from the ‘70s, Marty from the ‘80s, Clint’s the ‘90s and I’m the 2,000s.”

It’s apparent that Buddy’s faith has played a major role in his life. He has received numerous awards from Contemporary Christian and Gospel organizations.  I asked him how faith affects his music.

“I think the better question is how could my faith not play a role in my music?” he noted.  “Someone got on me early on, online, saying, ‘why are you always talking about your faith when people ask you questions.’ I’m like, well, that’s because it’s a big part of who I am. If I don’t talk about that, I’m leaving a lot of the story out. I mean, God has seen me through some really tough times.  A lot of them were things that I caused and, praise God, I’ve come out stronger on the other end.”

Buddy has some words of advice for people going through tough times like he did. He says, “I always tell people, ‘God makes great lemonade. Give God your lemons and He’ll make lemonade.’  But He also wants us to share those experiences with other people who might be going through the same things so they can see there’s hope on the other end.”

Buddy continues to tour and will be out at sea on a music cruise in April. I asked him about that fun event.

“It’s called ‘Rock the Coast: Texas Country At Sea’ with a whole lot of Texas, Red Dirt and Americana acts. There’s Sunny Sweeney, Mark Wills, David Adam Byrne, Kin Faux, William Michael Morgan, Curtis Grimes, there’s myself and a bunch of great Texas artists on it. We’re doing that April 15th through the 20th.”

As for new music, Buddy said he’s writing for a new record, in between tour dates. 

“I haven’t decided if I’m going to do all new music,” he told me about his next album.  “I might re-record some of my earlier songs and I’ve got some stuff in the can that I’ve recorded already that nobody’s heard yet and I’m putting all that together.”

Buddy Jewell is philosophical about where he and his music are at this stage of his career: “The great thing about being in the position that I’m at, twenty years down the road, I can do whatever I want to and no one’s gonna fuss at me about it.”

Some of Buddy’s recordings have been RIAA certified for one million radio air plays and he has 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 Association's “Entertainer of the Year'' and “Crossover Artist of the Year” awards. In 2015, he was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, just to name a few of his accolades.  

There’s more about Buddy at his website, his Facebook page and Instagram. Details and ticket info about the ‘Rock the Coast’ Cruise are here and find Buddy Jewell’s music at Spotify here.

 

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Buddy Jewell Tour Dates


06/22/2024 : Truck Stop Festival: Hadsund,
06/28/2024 : CJ's Sports Bar: Kingsport, TN
06/29/2024 : Franklin High School: Franklin, NC
07/09/2024 : Manistee Middle / High School: Manistee, MI
07/10/2024 : Cadillac High School: Cadillac, MI
07/11/2024 : Cheboygan High School: Cheboygan, MI
07/13/2024 : Wind Vineyards: Tappahannock, VA
07/20/2024 : Old Washington Music Fest 2024: Old Washington, OH
08/03/2024 : Camp Margaritaville RV Resort : Auburndale, FL
08/16/2024 : The Griffin Opera House: Griffin, GA
10/01/2024 : RailHead Smokehouse Barbeque: Willow Park, TX
10/19/2024 : 48 West: Wedowee, AL
10/27/2024 : The Josie Awards: Nashville, TN

About Preshias Harris

Preshias Harris Journalist

Preshias Harris is a music journalist who has interviewed everyone from Alabama to ZZ Top for articles and stories published in numerous music magazines. She is the author of longest-running monthly country music column in America and authored The College of Songology™ 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s ‘Need To Know’ Reference Handbook. As a music career development consultant with special emphasis on emerging and aspiring artists and songwriters, she focuses on ‘chasing the dream’ while understanding the realities of the music industry. She maintains a writers’ room on Music Row – named The Sangtuary – for her clients and their co-writers. She is a member of ASCAP (as a publisher), BMI, The Country Music Association (CMA), The Recording Academy, The National Association of Talent Directors (NATD) and a life member of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).

You can find out more about Preshias at https://www.collegeofsongology.com and find her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com