These are the things that country musician and Heber Valley resident Charley Jenkins wants his music to convey. For Jenkins, creating this type of music had to come from a real place. Home.
Jenkins grew up not too far from the Heber Valley in the small rural town of Roosevelt, Utah. Like most folks in his town, country living was just part of everyday life. His family ran a small cattle ranch. He wrestled and rodeoed in high school and just enjoyed the charm of living in a small town.
When it comes to writing songs about Western living, it doesn’t get much more authentic than living it. “Country is who and what I am,” says Jenkins. “It is only natural for me to sing the songs that I love to relate to.”
As most people in the music industry can attest, staying put doesn’t always come with the territory. As his passion and talent for music grew, Jenkins found himself leaving the quiet life of Roosevelt to get an education, both formally and through the school of experience.
During his time in college, he found that he really enjoyed singing and making people happy through song. Taking what he learned from his college courses in business, Jenkins took a leap and headed to the nation’s county music capital, Nashville, Tennessee, hoping to make music his career. There he soon realized that his education in music was just beginning.
“My advice for anyone heading out to Nashville is to look at it as an education and not a competition,” Jenkins says. “If you go out there comparing yourself to others, you’re going to have your heart broken. There is so much talent out there.”
He admits that he was a bit naïve heading out east, but the things he learned there helped him polish his craft and find his spot in country music. Watching and listening to the other artists taught Jenkins where he wanted his music to come from and the type of performer he wanted to be.
Country Boy Comes Home
After three years in Nashville, family called him back home. While he was gone, Jenkins’ dad started a battle with cancer that would eventually take his life. Jenkins left Tennessee without hesitation to come home and be with his dad and family before he passed — something he’d never regret.
Shortly after this experience, Jenkins released an album with a song titled “Hero at Home” as a tribute to his father. The song came from a very personal place within his heart.
“Country music is still about the lyric and the story and the reason behind it,” explains Jenkins. For him, songs like “Hero at Home” or “That Mountain,” about the people we love or the tough spots we go through, had to come from a place of experience in his life. Even songs about rodeo and country living find their inspiration from his past.
Telling a story through music is what country is all about. “I tell my band all the time that our job is to create moments for other people,” says Jenkins. “Music, of course, is our way of doing that.”
Life on the Road
Music has been a vehicle for Jenkins to meet many people, build long-lasting friendships and even create memories with his kids. Over the years, he has opened for many of the biggest names in country music — names like Reba McEntire, Allan Jackson, Neal McCoy and many others.
Jenkins and his Utah-based band travel around preforming between 50 and 60 shows every year. They mostly perform in the summer months and around Christmas time, which means Jenkins can be home with his kids — 13-year-old Preslee and six-year-old Kash — while they’re in school and take them on the road with him when he’s performing.
No matter where he’s performing or size of the audience, Jenkins always wants to convey his love for the music and hopes the message he shares touches someone to create those moments that last.
“I just want our songs to be effective, meaning that someone relates to it, that it adds value to other people,” he explains.
After all the performing, traveling and even his time back east in Tennessee, Jenkins still has country and small town living in his heart. Landing here in the Heber Valley has helped him create a balance of being on the road, spending quality time with his family and living in a rural setting close to his hometown — all while creating moments that last through song.
Jenkins has become a fan favorite at the Buckaroo Ball during the Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering. He and his band will be back this year during the Gathering’s 25th Anniversary. Don’t miss this great opportunity to see him perform locally, Friday October 25.