Jimmy Wayne was born Oct. 23, 1972, in Cleveland County, N.C. He endured a tumultuous childhood, as his father abandoned the family when Wayne was a toddler, and his mother was in and out of prison twice. Growing up in foster homes, Wayne became an avid journal-keeper, using writing as a way of therapy. Living on the streets at 16 and a high school dropout, he was hired by an elderly couple to cut their grass, and eventually, they invited him to move into their home.
With a stable home life, Wayne went back to high school and worked his way through community college, earning an associate's degree in criminal justice. After working in the North Carolina prison system, Wayne moved to Nashville, practiced guitar until becoming proficient and put his life experience to music. Tracy Byrd cut one of his songs, "Put Your Hand in Mine," in 1998.
Wayne's first single, "Stay Gone," was inspired by his sister Patricia, who was having marital troubles at the time. She told Wayne that everything would be better if her husband would just stay gone. Wayne released his self-titled debut album on DreamWorks Nashville in 2003.