Loving the Country Music Life

By on December 10, 2018
Hilton’s Josie Waverly was inducted into the New York State Country Music Hall of Fame in October. Photo by Karen Fien

Hilton’s Josie Waverly was inducted into the New York State Country Music Hall of Fame in October. Photo by Karen Fien

For the past 31 years, Hilton’s Josie Waverly has been doing what she loves, singing, writing and performing country music. In October 2018, Waverly was inducted into the New York State Country Music Hall of Fame, an honor that she says is very humbling. “A lot of people like what I do and they took the time to nominate me. It is a great feeling,” she said.

The Hall of Fame induction and awards ceremony was held at the Cortland Music Park at the New York State Country Music Hall of Fame in Cortland, New York. The process starts with 45 people being nominated each year. With voting the number is cut to seven nominees that attend the induction dinner, with three artists making it in the Hall of Fame each year. At the awards ceremony Josie said in her acceptance speech, “I won! Thanks to all of you. Thank you for your love and support over all these years. I accept this award on behalf of my very loving supportive husband, my treasured children, their beautiful wives, my adoring grandgems, my dearest extended family, all the musicians who I have had the privilege to work with over the years, all of you ‘the fans’ and most of all my good Lord who blessed me with talent and then told me to share it with the world. I love you all.”

Josie Waverly knew at a very early age that she wanted to sing. “As a child I was moved around quite a bit. I knew that when I had my own family and when I put down roots they would be deep,” she says. Growing up, Josie loved singing along with records, and at age 10 she began singing publicly in her church. It was a calling, she felt that the Lord had blessed her with a singing voice and that it would be wrong not to use it.

In 1989 she had a go with taking her talents to Nashville to pursue the next step in her career. She achieved moderate success in Nashville and recorded her first album “One Heart At Your Service” with the guidance of legendary singer and songwriter Razzy Bailey. She has performed all over the United States and has been the opening act for country music stars including Tim McGraw, Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn, Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban. She has played to huge audiences and to small gatherings. She has had huge successes and a few setbacks including a serious car accident in 2016 while on the way to perform a benefit show. “I am still working my way back from the accident, getting stronger each day,” she says.

josie by doorWaverly has also written a series of children’s books called “Josie the Singing Butterfly.” It is a four volume picture book series of 20 short stories about a singing butterfly that meets different animal characters along life’s way. Each animal she meets has a problem that Josie the Singing Butterfly helps to resolve. The stories contain lessons that help children understand friends, family and the complexities of life in a colorful and upbeat way. Waverly travels around to schools and libraries and reads her stories to children.

As far as success in a career in the music business Waverly says, “You define your own success. When people come up to me and say ‘too bad you didn’t make it big’ I look at them and think what do you mean? If I were working the big stages I wouldn’t be here locally to sing for you. As far as I am concerned, I have achieved personal success. I am doing what I love to do and have been able to make a career of it.” Her advice to those who are looking at a career in music is simple. She says, “They call it the music business for a reason. It is a business and there is a lot to deal with when you follow your dream. In order to make it, you need to know about all parts of the business, it isn’t just singing. I tell young singers to make sure they are college educated so they have something to back them up. But if you really want it, go after it, get involved, go where the music is and follow that dream.”

Waverly said early in her career she got some great advice from country music great Ricky Skaggs. She was opening for him at the Lilac Festival and he came up to her after she performed and advised her to “stay with it.” That meant a lot to her and she followed his advice. “I think my greatest accomplishment is being able to hold my family together while doing what I love to do. Real success is achieving an inner peace with what you are doing with your life, that is success. My joy comes from looking out at the crowd and seeing their joy and knowing that it is something I am bringing to them by my performance,” she says.

As far as her personal style Waverly says, “I guess you would call me down to earth. I am the type of girl who goes to the sound check with the Charlie Daniels Band with rollers in my hair. If it is raining I will sing in the rain, it is really about performing for the people, not about me.”

Waverly is also quick to point out that the success she has achieved is not all her own doing. “My husband Bob and two sons have always supported and encouraged me in all that I have done. I also give credit to all the musicians that I have played with over the years. Without them, there would be no Josie Waverly. Whenever I say Josie Waverly, it is a whole ball of people that I am talking about,” she says. Waverly is also the proud grandma to five grandchildren that she says brings her the greatest joy.

Currently, Josie Waverly performs in several different shows locally. My Gal Patsy is a 90-minute self-penned musical journey into what a night at a Patsy Cline concert would have been like. The performance includes over 20 Patsy Cline signature hit songs.

She also wrote and performs in Queens of Pure Country, a tribute to legendary ladies of Country Music. The show includes songs from Kitty Wells, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Dottie West, Reba McEntire and more. During the show, Josie portrays nine country singers complete with authentic costume changes for each of the star portrayals. She says, “It is really a challenge to get into each of the unique characters, costume changes and singing styles all within one show.”

Another show Waverly stars in is Cash & Cline: A Tribute to Johnny and Patsy. Waverly, as Patsy Cline, is joined onstage by Terry Lee Goffee as Johnny Cash. Waverly  also performs with The Josie Waverly Band which is described as a blend of classic to current country music. They also perform some of Josie’s original songs. The music is country, gospel, spiritual and patriotic songs all blended in.

Waverly is preparing a new show that will debut in February 2019. It is called America’s Sweetheart of Song – A Musical Tribute to Connie Francis. The show features a look back on the music of the 50s and 60s and features many of Connie Francis’ greatest hits including “Where the Boys Are,” “Lipstick On Your Collar,” and many more. “People have been asking me for years to sing Connie Francis. I always hesitated because of my language barrier, many of Connie’s songs are sung in Italian. So I have been learning Italian for the show. It has been a challenge, but one I am truly enjoying,” Waverly says.

For more information on Josie Waverly visit www.josiewaverly.com.