At a young age, J.R. (Jimmy Richard) McNutt 27 of Big Spring, TX, had a passion for music. Countless days, his mom would see him singing at the radio to the oldies and the top hits at the time. No one knew just what would come out of it, until now.
Growing up he resided in a family of 5. With his biological parents separated. He would strive to see his father throughout the years, but would finally establish a stable relationship with him at the age of 18.
"All my life I had one wish. To spend time with the man everyone called my father. He was a good Dad. He made due with the opportunities he had to spend time with all of his kids. It's unfortunate when life turns for the worse." -J.R. McNutt
In April of 2016 his world was turned upside down when receiving a phone call from his sister, Jenifer, when he was residing in Corpus Christi.
"When you get that phone call finding out a loved one is in ICU there's a gut feeling that we hope isn't the case. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. But it was, in this case."
Shortly from that phone call, J.R. had made his way back to his hometown to see his father. It was within a short timeframe that he had felt all hope felt lost.
"I walked into the ICU looking at my sisters and my brother. Jolene, who was holding his hand, had stepped away and had me approach his bedside. I grabbed his hand and just stared in fearful awe if that makes any sense. A sense of passing the torch had a strong presence in the room. I told him that I was sorry I didn't come home sooner; that I should have taken time off work just to be around, but that we were there and that we loved him. All I could say over and over in my head was God please. Not yet, not with so many unasked questions."
Jim McNutt passed away seconds after. Nurses circling J.R. and his father while unplugging machines. J.R., still holding his hand, holding hope.
"No one ever tells you what it's like to lose a parent, and no one ever can tell you how to handle it the way you need to. I can't say I wasn't afraid, it's like knowing your enemies are deadset in front of you, and you can't stop the inevitable. After making arrangements and playing at his funeral, I went back to Corpus. I felt heavy, like I was leaving from where I needed to be."
After debating, J.R. decided to make his way back to his hometown of Big Spring.
"My Dad, as much as he believed me, never heard me singing my music. After he had passed I felt led to prove him right. The days I would be working in Corpus Christi, he would call telling me how he told people that his son plays country music and is probably on the radio."
J.R. had no direction of how to start, but with the drive and the passion, Jolene began to see the potential of what was coming, and aided in any way she could.
"After about a month and a half, I had gotten to the point where I was regularly playing in the area and my sister told me about a competition called The Country Showdown that was held at the Howard County Fair."
With a show already booked for that night, J.R. had passed on the opportunity.
"I never really knew the potential I had! I just knew people liked what I was playing. It wasn't until my sister called a couple days before the competition that I had changed my mind. From there an interview from the news was set up and I began to sense this was bigger than I had anticipated!"
J.R. and Jolene at The Howard County Fair in a local news interview.
"Throughout the competition, there was a tie between myself and competitor, Kyler Jennings, and we had to play another song. Just by chance I decided to play a song I had written for my dad on Father's day called "Where Did You Go?". It's a song about a struggle of loss, and words left unsaid. "
J.R. had been announced the winner. He then was informed about the next round, back in South Texas in Rockport.
"This is a joke right? I had no idea or intentions to compete in an extended competition. I of course agreed, and was extremely excited. The next day I had an interview at KBEST. It was a talk show format and didn't get to play a song. Not yet, Dad." He smiles.
J.R. Makes it to Rockport, and wins 1st place again!
"Okay so what's the catch? I never would have thought the opportunity would reach this level! I never had the expectation of winning. Just the hope to, and was looking forward to meeting people on the same level."