What can you tell me about country singer Jimmy Wayne?
—Rebecca P., New Mexico
Although the bachelor was recently included in People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue, his childhood was anything but pretty. Wayne, 31, weathered emotional abuse and violence while growing up in Kings Mountain, N.C., (pop. 9,693) and surrounding areas. “Every story I’ve got is a country song,” he says of his life. As young children, he and sister Patricia were shuttled from their mother to relatives and foster homes. By age 12, his mother was in prison and that’s when he began writing poems as an outlet for his emotions. At 13, he started writing rap songs, and at 17, he joined a rock band. “Around age 20, I realized I relate to country music the most—those people, those lyrics, that whole scene.” After earning an associate’s degree in criminal justice, he worked as a guard at the Gaston Correctional Facility for four years. He realized he could no longer deny his dream of pursuing country music, so he quit his job and moved to Nashville, Tenn. He spent three years honing his skills as a songwriter before signing a record deal with DreamWorks. Last year, he released his first CD, Jimmy Wayne, and scored his first hit with Stay Gone. “My responsibility in the past, when I was sleeping outside every night, was just to survive,” he says. “My responsibility now is to stay real, stay grounded and just tell the truth.”