Buddy Jewell: Life After Nashville Star

I never watched Nashville Star, but I was pretty loyal about becoming instantly obsessed with the debut singles from the show’s top contestants. Two songs I especially loved were “Me and Charlie Talking” and “Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey’s Song).”

The first one was by that blond girl who took third place — Miranda Lambert. The other was by that guy with three kids who was the ultimate winner — Buddy Jewell.

I even went down to Louisiana to see a rookie Jewell perform at Tim McGraw‘s Swampstock in September 2003. I just knew Jewell and Lambert were destined for greatness. But I didn’t know about the donuts.

That’s what Jewell’s been doing since his music career is on the back burner and his Peace, Love & Little Donuts shop in downtown Nashville has become his new career path. They make all kinds of Groovy, Far Out, and Funkadelic varieties. They even make a French toast donut and a S’mores donut.

Jewell told the Nashville Scene publication all about his tiny, hippie-inspired bakery and talked about what reality-show life was like. Right after he auditioned for the show, he was moved into a house near Music Row with the other contestants. Eventually, he was named the show’s very first champion.

“Only people who win those kinds of shows get to have that experience,” he said. “To go from walking in Walmart and nobody cares, to walking in and your kid says, ‘Dad, there’s a lady who’s been following us for six aisles!’ It’s a weird thing. It’s cool, I mean, it definitely fed my ego. I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t.”

But things started to change.

“I wasn’t as enamored with [the music business] after I got in the middle of it as I was before the show,” Jewell said. “As it is with Nashville, you’re only as good as your last project. I’ve actually had to pray to God to give me the willingness to forgive some people for making some bad decisions about my career.”

After his breakout hit, Jewell released some singles that didn’t do nearly as well. He had to face those three little words no artist wants to hear — “failed to chart.”

It’s been 10 years since Jewell won Nashville Star and 10 years since Lambert came in third. It makes you wonder how their careers would’ve turned out if she’d won and he’d come in third. There’s that theory that winning a talent competition show can be a curse, but I’m not sure if it’s the show that causes it or the realities of life.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.