Ropers world wide gather at the Rose Palace outside San Antonio, Texas for the 29th annual George Strait Team Roping Classic’s and Grand Championship.
Celebrities and Rodeo stars were a huge part of the audience as they watch the 500 entries compete for the $600,000 in prize money during the three day event.
Amongst the competition included Eight time PRCA All Around Cowboy Champion Trevor Brazil, who also holds 11 World Team Roping Championships.
As the event opens, the American Flag displayed in the foreground, a true America Cowboy rides in to sing the national anthem.
As the young man removes his Resistol Cowboy Hat, you see it is no other than, John Wayne Schulz who recently appeared on the television show, American Idol last February.
Staff writer for TMZ.Com an AOL affiliate where Harvey Levin is managing editor immediately blasted the television broadcast with a story ‘American Idol’ -The Cowboy Deception stating John Wayne was nothing near the young man who just step off the ranch trying to make it in the music industry much due to a recorded album made when he was a mere 14 years old.
Although, John Wayne Schulz was fully eligible to audition with American Idol, this brought lots of questions to who this up and coming artist is along with what is John Wayne Schulz truly about.
There is no deception of this American Cowboy.
John Wayne Schulz, currently 23 years old was born on September 29, 1987, in Columbus, Montana while his dad conducted work with the Stillwater Mining Company, headquartered in Billings, Montana.
“John was the only child born outside Texas” states his mom.
Named after the famous movie star (Marion Robert Morrison) aka-John Wayne is the second youngest of six children to his parents Ken and Vicki Schulz.
The Schulz family heritage has been ranching in Texas since 1857.
John Wayne grew up working on the 800-acre ranch located near Karnes City, Texas where they manage a cow-calf operation raising Beef Master and Black Angus cattle.
His life of ranching included everything from helping his dad mend fences, repairing tractors, to animal breeding and loading hay in the barns.
“He’s all cowboy,” states his older sister Melanie who has taken the reins managing John’s future career in country singing providing booking contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
Like many young boys growing up in rural America, John participated in 4-H, Rodeo and played sports as a member of the Badger football and baseball teams where he graduated from Karnes City High School.
At home on the ranch, he trained horses, worked cattle and learned to rope.
Through participating with a 4-H talent show, his music began setting in.
His mother remembers how John sang George Strait songs from the bathroom tub when he was merely six years old.
Vicki Schulz who also taught piano helped John learn music and encouraged him to perform and that led to a winning performance in the 4-H talent show.
It wasn’t long after, that John began singing at many County Fairs and western events.
At one event, his voice was heard by country music artist Larry Butler who had been working with independent label BSW Records owned by Frank Wilson of San Antonio, Texas.
Larry had received the Entertainer of the Year award in 2000 for the CD release of “Memories of Hank Williams Sr” by BSW Records label featuring Larry Butler and Willie Nelson produced by Larry Butler and Dave Zettner.
Larry believed that young John Wayne Schulz should create an album, and so they did, titled “Ropin’ Dreams.”
The album cost was paid mostly by the Schulz family for production including 10 songs with John Wayne (vocals); Chris Gage (guitar); Ron Knuth (fiddle); Floyd Domino (piano); Glen Fukunaga (bass); Freddie Krc (drums); Larry Seyer and Gemma Cochran (background vocals).
The album included two previously recorded songs, “Playboy” formerly recorded by artist Buck Owens and also later recorded by Alan Jackson, the other song “My Girl” first recorded by the Temptations under the Gordy (Motown) label which became a number one hit in 1965 was written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White.
The other works on Ropin’ Dreams included, (Don’t Threatin’ Me With a Good Time), (Love On Our Side, (I Couldn’t Care More), (The Queen of My Soul), (Texas Man), (Put a Little Love on That Hurt), (Rockin’ Horse), and (Angel Things.)
Rockin’ Horse did receive some attention for the young 14 year old John Wayne Schulz and was reviewed in seven categories for Grammy Awards but never received enough votes for final nomination.
John continued to sing across mostly south Texas at various country events promoting his Album “Ropin’ Dreams” along with participating in Rodeo’s performing team roping as a header.
While his album never hit the top charts across the nation, he did manage to rake in several Rodeo Trophy Buckles that today he proudly wears one of them.
John’s Dad, Ken Wayne in mid 2000s was working away from the Karnes City ranch in Zapata, Texas for an oil company as a chemical engineer.
Due to the extended length of time away from home, his wife and younger children joined him there.
Due to the many dangers over the last ten years along the Texas-Mexico bordered, Vicki Schulz decided to temporarily home school her children until they returned home on the Karnes City ranch.
One major event John performed at was the Texas Miss Rodeo Pageant directed by Marjorie Murphy. Former Miss Texas Rodeo 1990 and Miss Rodeo USA 1992 Lana Grubb Hickok, was coordinating the coronation of the pageant seeing his name on the list of performers during the early 2000’s.
“I thought with a name like John Wayne, wow - that is a mighty big name to carry around – especially in the western industry. In walked this young teenager! I was shocked – I was expecting a man. I really thought we were stumped but John held his own and didn’t even let those 22 year old girls intimidate him! He was as cute as a button and we all wished we were a lot younger! Boy, could that little guy sing!”
John took two years off from performing and working on the ranch after High School graduation.
A strong believer in God with utmost moral character, it was his duty to perform mission work through the church.
Adhering to the highest dress code wearing dark slacks, white shirt and simple neck tie, John traveled to Nebraska and Iowa devoting his Mormon missionary duties during those two years.
Missionaries are admonished to avoid all forms of worldly entertainment.
Additionally, while encouraged to write home weekly, they are generally only authorized to telephone their parents only on Christmas Day, and one other day of the year, usually Mother’s Day.
Mentally, this came easy for John since he was raised to follow the moral code of the west, the polite mannerism and well behaved characteristic that comes from a strong loving family which he lives daily on the family ranch.
Arriving home, it didn’t take long for the young cowboy to squeeze back into his boots and begin working the herd rotation and cutting of coastal hay to store in the barn for winter.
He also came home learning his mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.
“It was a very hard thing to accept for all of us,” John said.
He promised his mother that he would do anything for her.
Her dream was to see her son John reach his musical dreams suggesting he try out for American Idol.
Waiting for his audition, John got back into public performances and was asked to perform again with the Texas Miss Rodeo Pageant.
Lana Grubb Hickok remembered him from previous years.
“WOW! He has grown up! And so has his talent! Not only was he handsome but he was really great to listen to.” stated Lana comparing him to a young George Strait she remembered listening in Lubbock, Texas.
She continued, “This past year after the pageant coronation was over, Gabe Garcia, the Nashville Star finalists and John Wayne Schulz joined us for brunch. They were so much fun to be around as we all sat laughing together in our conversations, then they both sang to us. They didn’t even care when some of us sang with the two of them. John was the same in that room as he is on stage – just a great guy with a huge talent!”
John also appeared during the USA Miss Rodeo Pageant in Las Vegas where Celesta Harvey representing Texas during the pageant also compared his talent stating, “He’s like a younger George Strait.”
Audition finally came greeting the judges of American Idol.
Randy Jackson welcomed the new contestant “Come on in Cowboy, what’s your name?”
As John Wayne stated his name, Randy insisted for him to swear to it and John Wayne Schulz replied, “Yes sir, it’s John Wayne Schulz.”
Jennifer Lopez questioned, “Are you a real cowboy?”
In John’s modest mannerism, he replied, “I hope so.”
Jennifer replaced last year season nine judges, Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres and American singer Steven Tyler replaced Simon Cowell.
In his a-cappella vocal resonation, John Wayne Schulz sang “Believe” by Brooks and Dunn and quickly warmed the hearts of the judges landing him his ticket to Hollywood.
After a few days in Hollywood, he began making many new friends from different backgrounds, life styles and music genres.
Each day rapidly eliminated groups of singers as John discovered another young man who sings country music, wears jeans and boots, and is named Scotty McCreery from Garner, North Carolina who performed his audition in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They too struck up a good friendship reaching the final 40 top performers.
19 Entertainment, based in Los Angeles, California, is the creator and producer of entertainment properties based around the areas of Music, Television and Film, including American Idol.
They announced that they never have had 40 more talented individuals during any other season.
Each member competing on American Idol is under contract until the season ends where they can extend recording contracts.
John was cut during the final 24 selection finding his new country music friend Scott McCreery moving forward.
I asked John what he thought of Scott’s performance?
“Scotty is a really nice guy. He has a really good voice that is unusually deep for a 16 year old and seems to be doing really great. I hope he does well,” John said. “I’ve made so many friends in Hollywood, that I stay tuned watching how each one is doing from show to show, hoping all of them the best.”
What did you think of the judges and your experience?
“Wow, I’ve gained so much from being able to be apart of American Idol. The judges are really wonderful people. Jennifer often had her baby twins and husband at the set taking time to spend with them and Steven Tyler often talked to his family from his cell phone. You get to see, they are just normal people who reached their dreams. They also offered great advice and made you feel comfortable being around them.”
Would you do anything differently or change anything, such as song choices?
“You know, song choice is everything, it either makes you or breaks you. I feel like I wouldn’t change a thing.”
His songs during the American Idol Performance included “Believe” by Brooks and Dunn, “It’s getting better all the time” also by Brooks and Dunn. “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, “Get Ready” group song by the Temptations, “Anymore” by Travis Tritt, “Need A Little Help from my Friends” by The Beatles, and “Red Light” by David Nail.
John hopes to land a contract by the end of the year.
He filled his promise he made to his mother that he would audition with America Idol.
While he has the drive, desire and talent... sometimes you have got to have something else which American Idol has been successful for many artist.
Chris Daughtry was an unknown with his high school band Cadence.
They too, produced one album, “All Eyes on You” (1999) but like John, it’s difficult to sell what people can not see and once Daughtry was on season five of American Idol, his visibility landed him a contract with RCA records after coming in forth place on the show.
No doubt, American Idol can bring artists some visibility too, since they are as of January 2011, the most-watched TV series in the Nielsen ratings and is the only program to have been number one for six consecutive seasons, surpassing All in the Family and The Cosby Show, which were both number one for five consecutive seasons.
The show has also helped launch careers with Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kellie Pickler, and Bucky Covington.
However, many artist often go undiscovered.
Willie Nelson had to leave Nashville to become successful even when his song writing music for artist Pasty Cline “Crazy” was a number one hit.
The music business is about fans but getting there is often one gig after another hoping your great song lands some where on the charts with the radio audience.
Charis Thorsell recorded a CD with the same hopes when her production label filled bankruptcy finding herself stuck without the copyrights to her CD titled “Hard Knock Blues” nearly ending her career as a country artist, although she is springing back.
George Strait also played several years before his music career launched.
Raised as the roping cowboy born in Poteet, Texas just a few miles north of the Schulz Ranch, he answered a flyer while attending college in San Marcos joining the country band Stoney Ridge.
Shortly later, Strait renamed the group to Ace in the Hole and quickly became the lead where they began to perform at many different honky tonks across Texas.
Even with several single recordings in the late 70s, the songs never achieved wide recognition.
It wasn’t until Strait became friends with Erv Woolsey who convinced contacts he had at MCA to come listen to him play.
He landed that contract and today with more than 30 years of recording with MCA Records, he’s delivered 57 Number 1 songs on all country charts and has more #1 hits than any other artist in any genre.
He also holds more gold and platinum records over any other country artist, only 3rd to Elvis and the Beatles.
John Wayne Schulz is an American Cowboy.
Performing his Team Roping Event at the George Strait Classic, he did well heading while his partner heeling snatched merely one leg for a penalty.
John Wayne is a true team player indicating the front man (Header) in the team roping event needs to get the calf around making the heelers job easier.
John with his friendly smile shares no blame on others nor ever replies an unkind word.
He also mentors young kids about the Gospel through church and has worked with high school teens through a program that helps prepare students for college at Runge, High School.
John has attended Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas taking preliminary courses with future plans to attend Texas A&M, College Station.
John got to meet his mentor in country music, George Strait during the Classic team roping event.
Both on horseback, George rode up to John welcoming him to his event.
George asked John if he had ever been to Nashville.
John replied, “No sir, but I have been to Hollywood.”
I asked John how his mom is doing since the airing of American Idol.
“She’s in great spirits” John said, explaining that his mothers’ breast cancer which had been in remission for several years returned.
“She now is undertaking chemotherapy,” he said.
His younger brother Garret helped shave the remaining hair during a family party making the best of the situation where John said to his mother, “You look beautiful Mom.”
John has filled his promise. His future music career and momma will be in the hearts and prayers of many.
Lana Grubb Hickok said it best saying, “John Wayne Schulz is true to his name – a gentleman who is kind and very good to his momma! Something we hope all our son’s grow up to be! An American Cowboy, a gentleman in every sense of the word and the rising Idol of country music.”