Some of you know me and the journey that I have been on in this crazy music industry that I've been a part of for over 26 years. Some only know the highlights and most do not know much at all. You see, for most of my career and life, I've been this quite, hard working guy that is very comfortable living in the background just doing his job to the best of his abilities and never caring about the "Lime Light" or having all the awards and accolades my peers have had throughout their careers. I'm perfectly fine with all that too. Why you might ask? Well... you see for me it's about providing for my family and living life on my terms. I'm happier than I've ever been, have a beautiful family and the best job in our industry. I get to perform in front of thousands of people daily with all different kinds of backgrounds and beliefs and that is awesome! So yeah... life is good!
Now it could have turned out much different for me if I would have listened to the naysayers and so here is where it all started. Sit down, take a break for a while as I share my story. My journey from beginning to right now in this very moment.
1970 was the year I was born into a musical family. My Mom and Dad sang and could play the piano and guitar and my brother and sister could sing as well. I guess you could say that I was born to sing and perform. It's in my blood, heart, and soul. At a very young age (2 years old to be exact), I found myself singing on stage as an added bonus with the band my Mom and Dad were a part of during that time. The Tide Water Quartet based out of the Virginia Beach area was where it all started for me. They traveled up and down the coast from the late 60's to early 70's until we moved back to my Dad's homeplace in Bladenboro, North Carolina. From there I got into church and started singing here and there for different functions. At the age of 9, I recorded my very first album. It was on 8 track tape (yeah that was the tech back then). No overdubs like in today's recording world. It was just straight singing. So I started singing more and more and I loved it. I knew at a very early age that this was what I wanted to do. During this time though, I was picked on, bullied, and told that it wasn't really me singing. Hearing this from kids that I admired and wanted to be like devastated me! It made me feel like I wasn't any good and that I would never be good enough to pursue my dreams of becoming a professional singer, and touring the world. So, one day, my Mom took me to sing for some prominent, well-respected men in the music business in town. I sang, they heard me and what they told me was that I didn't have what it took to be in the music business. That I would never "make it". There I was again, just devastated. Bullied by so-called friends and then told that I would never make it in the music business by the powers that be. Shew! What a blow! So after that, I stopped singing. Not one note I would utter throughout my teenage years. Although I still had the dream and loved music. All I did was listen and dream.
After my teenage years, I went to college and then found myself running heavy machinery for a nuclear power plant in Southport, North Carolina. I was okay with that job. I learned how to run just about everything from bulldozers, backhoes, forklifts, tractors, and cranes. But I still had the dream. It was put away in the back somewhere but it was still there. At some point, I got a call from a local band that somehow heard about me even though I hadn't sung in years. It happened to be for a favorite local band of mine that needed someone to fill in for their tenor who was having some vocal issues. So I thought about it and after about a day, I called them back and said I would go for the audition. Nervous as could be, I stepped up and did the audition. To my surprise, they were all smiling and they talked amongst themselves for a few minutes. Then turned to me and said well Jerry... would you like the job? I was flabbergasted and excited, to say the least. Here I came from being bullied and told I didn't have what it took to now being offered a job singing. I didn't have to think twice about it although in the back of my mind there was still doubt. I said yes and from there we were off to the races! Still nervous and only relying on what knowledge I had, which was basically "open up and let her fly", I started listening to many of my favorite singers and really absorbing what they were doing and had to offer. I soaked it up like a sponge! I was determined that I wouldn't let anyone ever tell me or make me feel like I didn't belong in the music industry again. I guess that is where I really hungered for the knowledge and to get all the experience I could to hone my craft and make my voice the best it could possibly be. I studied my mentors! From the voices of Steve Perry, Brian Free, Gary Sheppard throughout the many different genres of music, I wanted to see how every phenomenal singer that I gravitated towards sang the way they did and how they did it.
From there I discovered how to sing correctly and all the inner workings that made the voice do what it does and how to create incredible music from the instrument that God gave me... my voice. I worked hard on placements, breathing, tones, as well as how to tell a story just by using the voice in a certain way. I studied under some of the greatest vocal teachers in the country and still seek out more from different vocal coaches. Why? Because when you think you don't have anything else to learn, you miss out on all of the hidden secrets of the voice that you can apply. I told myself I would never be complacent and always strive to learn, implement and elevate my skills. What this has done for me now has led me through a 26-year career of singing professionally. I did, in fact, get awards, accolades, and recognition that comes with the drive, determination and overall discipline to your craft, skills, and talents. I've had multiple #1 songs on the charts, #1 debut records, and a Hall of Fame induction in the year 2000. I've toured all across the United States and into several other countries singing in arenas and into some of the biggest auditoriums. I say all of this to let you know that if I had still been listening to those naysayers, doubters, and bullies, I wouldn't be where I am today. Instead, I worked hard and had the right mindset to persevere to get to where I am right now. I now have a unique opportunity to give back to others who may have the same dream of "making it" in the music industry.
Today I perform with an incredible band on a daily basis, I am a Vocal Coach and own my own recording studio with my wife Tabitha. I am now able to teach my students what I have learned throughout my experiences in my career and the knowledge of performing and singing. To help them one day reach their goals and dreams. I always want to instill in my students a top-level work ethic, and the three D's - Drive, Determination, and Discipline that I live by.
These things will take you farther in life than you could ever imagine. I stand before you today just an ordinary person who had a dream. Through adversity, I conquered and made my dream a reality.
This is my story and it will only get better from here.
and on that Note...