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Jimmy Wayne Takes a ‘Halfway’ Break for Midnite Jamboree

Jimmy Wayne traded in his hiking shoes and sportswear this weekend for cowboy boots and jeans, as he was the special guest on the Midnite Jamboree. The post-Grand Ole Opry radio program at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop’s Troubadour Theatre in Nashville drew Jimmy’s followers from surrounding states, with the singer taking a break from his ‘Meet Me Halfway‘ walk which he began on Jan. 1. The walk was designed to raise awareness for at-risk teens, in hopes of preventing them from becoming homeless — a situation the singer himself experienced as a young man.

Jimmy took the stage, looking fit from having already logged over 600 miles in the cross-country trek. Throughout the evening, he shared his thoughts on the ‘Meet Me Halfway’ project, telling the audience about where the idea for launching the campaign originated.

“Last year I was very lucky to have the opportunity to open the American Saturday Night tour for Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley,” Jimmy said. “In December, when the tour was over, I was at home. I was stirring a cup of coffee, and I was thinking about the tour. I was thinking about what I accomplished last year, but I was also thinking about what I didn’t do. I didn’t take time out last year to give back. That was truly the way I felt. I wanted to do something. I wanted to make up for it. I thought, ‘Well, what can I do? Maybe I could go outside and sleep outside one night in downtown Nashville to raise awareness for these homeless teens.’ Then I thought, ‘Well, that’s not going to do anything because it’s not that big of a deal’ … because a lot of us songwriters are sleeping outside anyway,” he added with a chuckle. “[Then I thought], ‘Maybe I’ll walk halfway across America … no, that’s crazy. There’s no way I could do that … wait a minute … that is crazy. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to do something on a grand scale. Something that’s going to raise some awareness because nobody would expect that of me … until you get to know me! If we don’t speak up for [these at risk teens], who else is going to speak up for them?”

The audience at the Troubadour Theatre helped raise funds for the campaign, with Jimmy suggesting the donations raised during his appearance go to local Nashville youth center Monroe Harding, where he started his walk nearly two months ago. He then launched into the song that put him on the map, ‘Stay Gone,’ telling the crowd, “When you’re walking down the road, you’re really not singing … if you are, then you really look homeless! So I really haven’t had a chance to sing and play much. I’m going to try to remember the lyrics!”

Jimmy continued with several of his familiar tunes, including ‘Things I Believe,’ ‘After You,’ ‘I Love You This Much,’ his current single, ‘Just Knowing You Love Me,’ and the title track of his latest album, ‘Sara Smile.’ He also tossed tour t-shirts to fans and posed for pictures between songs, then closed out the evening with a sincere thank-you to the audience and the final song of the evening, ‘Where You’re Going,’ which he explained has not only been significant in his own life, but also relevant to the ‘Meet Me Halfway’ project.

“This is a very important song to me because it kind of ties in to what I’m out here doing,” he explained. “I started walking to raise awareness for these teens who are aging out of the system. When I was 15 years old, I was taken to a detention center. I was a teenage runaway. The night I went in, I will never forget. It was my 15th birthday, to be exact. When I went into this facility, there was this guy who walked out. It wasn’t the strip-searching that they had to do to check you in, it was the things he said that I will always remember the most. You never forget those things — especially when you’re a kid.

“[Years later], I went onto college,” he continued. “When I was in college, my course instructor said, ‘Monday we’re going to visit the dentition center.’ Of course I didn’t need to go; I’d already been. I knew what it was like, but I went anyway. I was standing in the back of the room, and this staff member came out. His introduction went just like this: ‘Good morning. This is the Dallas [North Carolina] Detention Center. In here we have all kinds of trash.’ I wanted to say something, but I didn’t right away. I finally raised my hand and said, ‘Sir, you may not remember me, but my door was the last one on the right.’ All the students turned around and looked at me because I wasn’t this guy they thought I was. I was different. I didn’t share my story with anyone because I thought it would turn people away. I said, ‘These kids … some of them have been let down by their own family and turned away. We all make mistakes. Some of us get caught, some of us don’t, but one thing these kids are not is trash.’ I’ll never forget that day. This song is the moral of the whole story and the whole walk. The whole message is it’s not where you’ve been, it’s where you’re going.”

Visit Jimmy’s Ustream page to see his Midnite Jamboree performance in its entirety.

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