(April 7, 2021 Issue)
By Loretta Cozart
A mural of Jimmy Wayne will soon grace the north side of the Joy Performance Theater, as work begins in April as part of the North Carolina Musician Murals project. The Kings Mountain native became a foster kid turned award-winning country recording artist and New York Times bestselling author, whose songs and story highlight his mission to raise awareness for children in foster care.
"Jimmy is a shining example of the power of music; but more than that, he's never forgotten where he came from and is always giving back," said Angela Padgett, Vice President of the Cleveland County Music Hall of Fame. "We're thrilled to have Jimmy, a true hometown hero, be part of our board of directors."
Having recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of finishing his walk halfway across America - Project Meet Me Halfway - to raise awareness to the plight of more than 30,000 children in foster care, Jimmy, a Cleveland County native, is a former foster kid turned award-winning country recording artist and New York Times bestselling author of 'Walk To Beautiful'. Jimmy's songs and story highlight his mission to raise awareness for these forgotten youth.
Jimmy's hits include "Stay Gone," "Paper Angels," "I Love You This Much" and "Do You Believe Me Now," which earned BMI's prestigious Million-Air Award for receiving more than one million radio spins in America. In 2009, Jimmy toured with Brad Paisley and recorded "Sara Smile" with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo Daryl Hall and John Oates.
In 2005, Jimmy became the youngest recipient of The William Booth Award, one of the highest honors that may be conferred upon an individual by The Salvation Army.
In 2012, Jimmy lobbied to pass legislative bills extending the age of foster care from 18 to 21 in California and Tennessee.
In 2013, Jimmy's first film, 'Paper Angels' (UPtv) became an instant holiday classic and in 2014 he released 'Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way' (Thomas Nelson/ Harper Collins) which became a three-time New York Times bestseller, crossing the 170,000 sales milestone, in early 2019, and becoming a #1 bestseller at Amazon.
In 2016 Jimmy received the prestigious Points of Light award from President George W. Bush (41), while simultaneously contributing to the extension of foster care services from age 18 to 21 in North Carolina and Ohio.
In 2017, Jimmy was honored with the inaugural Community Maker award by Verizon and received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from William Woods University. In 2018 he received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Cal State University San Marcos and most recently, (May 2019) he was honored by the National Council for Adoption with the Warren and Mary Alice Babineaux Award in recognition of his continued commitment to creating positive change in the lives of children in foster care who need permanent families.
Jimmy has shared his story - The Power of One - around the world as a keynote speaker and has performed on the Grand Ole Opry 224 times. He lives in Nashville and continues to give back through his non-profit awareness campaign, Project MeetMe Halfway. For more about Jimmy Wayne, visit www.jimmywayne.com
The North Carolina Musician Murals project describes how this project evolved. “The trail to the North Carolina Musician Murals begins in Chapel Hill, on a wall inside Pepper’s Pizza (pictured below), more than a decade ago. It’s where Scott Nurkin, owner of The Mural Shop, arranged portraits of renowned musicians from around the state, many of whom he idolized as a drummer growing up in Charlotte. The deal worked in his favor two ways: it showcased his work and, in exchange for the decor, he received ‘free pizza for life.’”
“When Pepper’s shuttered in 2013, Nurkin ate his last comped slice, but the art lived on, thanks to Mark Katz, then chair of UNC’s Department of Music, who purchased the lot and commissioned more to display in Hill Hall on campus. They remain there, a small piece of North Carolina music history preserved.”
“Today, the NCMM trail is coming together as Nurkin ultimately envisioned it—as large-scale murals in the hometowns of the musicians he originally honored at Pepper’s. In collaboration with Backdrop, a Raleigh-based consultancy, The Mural Shop is hitting the road; from John Coltrane on the historic Opera House in Hamlet to Earl Scruggs on Newgrass Brewing Co. in Shelby, the project reaches communities small and large, rural and urban, in every part of North Carolina. It’s our hope you visit, share with friends and family, and help us appreciate the legacy of some of the finest musicians the world has ever known.”
In the next few weeks, keep an eye on the Joy Performance Theater, as Kings Mountain’s Jimmy Wayne takes his place in history.