Jimmy Wayne Barber (born October 23, 1972) is an American country music singer and songwriter. He released his self-titled debut album in 2003 on the DreamWorks Records label. Four singles were released from it, including "Stay Gone" and "I Love You This Much", which both reached Top Ten on the Billboard country charts. A second album, Do You Believe Me Now, was released in August 2008 via Big Machine Records subsidiary Valory Music Group, and its title track became his first Number One hit in late 2008. Sara Smile followed in 2009.
Jimmy Wayne (Barber) was born on October 23, 1972 in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. His biological father abandoned him at an early age. He and his sister were sometimes raised in foster homes or were left with other people when their mother would leave them or go to jail. She served four months in prison in 1985 when Wayne was 12. After entering a county home, Wayne ran away and lived with his mother for a brief time before living on the streets and with his sister, Patricia, for a short while. He eventually moved in with an elderly couple, Russell and Bea Costner, (just down the road from where his mother was living), after being hired to mow their lawn. After finishing high school, he worked as a guard at the Gaston Correctional Facility, where he took songwriting advice from an inmate. He earned an associate's degree in criminal justice at a community college. Afterwards he worked as a corrections officer for 4 years before moving to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue his musical interests.
In Nashville, Wayne worked as a songwriter for Acuff-Rose Music, collaborating with Dean Dillon, Sanger D. Shafer and others while practicing his guitar and songwriting skills. One of his first cuts as a songwriter was "Put Your Hand in Mine," released by Tracy Byrd in late 1999 from the album It's About Time. By 2001, Wayne had signed to a recording contract with DreamWorks Records' Nashville division.
Wayne released his debut single, "Stay Gone," in 2003. This song was inspired by his sister, Patricia, who explained her marital troubles to him by saying "everything would be better if her husband would just stay gone," according to CMT. This song went on to peak at No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts that year. It was also the first release from his self-titled debut album, produced by Chris Lindsey and James Stroud. "I Love You This Much," the next single, went on to peak at No. 6, followed by "You Are" and "Paper Angels," both at No. 18. The album also included the song "Blue and Brown," which Wayne wrote about a foster brother who ended up a prison inmate at the correctional facility Wayne worked. "Paper Angels", written about the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program, earned him a William Booth Award from the organization.
Big Machine and Valory (2006-2009):
After DreamWorks closed in 2005, Wayne was transferred to Big Machine Records. His first release for the label was "That's All I'll Ever Need," which he co-wrote with Mark Nesler and Tony Martin. This song was slated to be the lead-off single to a second album with a projected release date of early 2007.
Wayne later moved to Big Machine's sister label, Valory Music Group. His first single for Valory, "Do You Believe Me Now," entered the country charts in April 2008 and became his third Top Ten in August 2008. A second studio album, titled Do You Believe Me Now, was released on August 26. For the week of September 13, 2008, the title track became his first Number One hit on the Hot Country Songs chart. "I Will" was released in October 2008 as the second single from Do You Believe Me Now, and it peaked at No. 18. The next single, "I'll Be That", debuted at No. 56 in May 2009, reaching a peak of No. 46.
Sara Smile (2009-2010):
In September 2009, Wayne released a cover version of Hall & Oates' 1976 single "Sara Smile", with backing vocals from Hall & Oates. This cover is the lead-off single to his second album of the same name for Valory, released on November 23. The song has become Wayne's seventh Top 40 country single, as well as Hall & Oates' first Top 40 country single. The album's second single is "Just Knowing You Love Me," a duet with Whitney Duncan, which debuted and peaked at No. 59 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Wayne joined Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley on the American Saturday Night tour in mid-2009.
Wayne parted ways with Valory Music Co. in September 2010.
Meet Me Halfway:
On January 1, 2010, Wayne set out on a 1,660 miles (2,670 km) solo-hike from Nashville, Tennessee to Phoenix, Arizona to raise awareness about homeless youth and more specifically children aging out of the foster system. Called the "Meet Me Halfway" campaign, he walked 25 miles (40 km) a day, only coming off the walk for scheduled concerts and to go to the California State Capitol to speak in favor of a bill that would increase the age kids age of the foster system from 18 to 21.
He successfully arrived in Phoenix on August 1, 2010 after suffering a broken foot 4 days prior, having successfully walked 1,700 miles over seven months. Even after completing his walk, Wayne continues to advocate for foster children. He is a National Spokesperson for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a national network of volunteers who represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom and other settings. and says eventually his goal is to walk across all 50 states to bring awareness to the cause of foster kids who are aging out of the system.
He co-wrote Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way with Ken Abraham. The book is concerned with his life story and inspired by the "Meet Me Halfway" campaign.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license