Cody Wayne has chased the neon lights of Nashville from Leverett’s Chapel, but because the tiny area doesn’t have a population sign, he just tells everyone his hometown is Henderson.
“That’s where I grew up, and it comes out in the music as well. It is the sound of things I love,” he said.
Wayne, who will perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 18 at Lone Star Ice House in Longview, continues to live where his roots are because so much business these days can be done by phone or computer, he said.
In July, he won Entertainer of the Year and Band of the Year at the Big Star Music Awards. That success hasn’t made him forget about first learning how to play the guitar. A roommate from his time in the Marines taught him when they were stationed in Iwakuni, Japan, and later Wayne cut his musical teeth in Nacogdoches, playing at Banita Creek Hall.
“I would open with the local bands and then moved to playing with the Texas country guys and then opening up for the national guys. Then I went out and did my own thing,” Wayne said. “I was always working there, playing there, deejaying before they would open, then go do the lights, and then play some more.”
Wayne won New Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2018 Texas Regional Radio Annual Music Awards, and Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year in 2017 at the Texas Country Music Awards. This April, Wayne signed a management deal with Nashville-based Vision Entertainment.
Wayne is now on the road in support of his new single “Good Ole Country Song,” which will be featured on his new studio album set for release in January. The song was written while he sat with his friend Neal Laney, who was hospitalized and not expected to live. Laney, of Kilgore, previously owned Neal’s Guitars and More and had given Wayne a guitar for a wedding present.
“I asked him what he wanted me to play, and he said he always had been the lover of an ol’ country song. The song was written in about 15 minutes. We had the nurses singing and dancing,” Wayne said. Laney survived but had to close his shop.
Wayne’s recent accolades have provided him a sense of satisfaction, after some people along the way told him he wouldn’t make it in the business. He said the Marines taught him how to prepare for opportunities as they arise. However, Wayne said he owes much of his success to his wife, Tamra McClendon Wayne.
“She knew how to take a hobby and make it into a career,” Wayne said.
Wayne continues his personal tradition of giving back to the military brotherhood to which he said he is proud to belong. Most recently Wayne met up with The Boot Campaign for his official “boot shoot.” The nonprofit organization serves military veterans by providing life-improving programs for veterans and military families nationwide. The famous combat boot photos feature celebrities, musicians and others sporting combat boots to show their support for the military.