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Woody is a dear friend of mine. I’ve been a fan for years. Experience his comedy and the man, and you’ll be a fan too. Although he calls himself the “World Wide Unknown Poet,” he is truly anything but. He’s a devout Christian, husband, father and a friend. Woody Woodruff is a poet, a philanthropist, a comedian—and an honest to goodness cowboy with a really big cowboy hat! Woody’s won the coveted Cowboy Poet of the Year award—yes, that’s a real award!
He’s starred in several movies (including Class of 91 and Pure Country 2: The Gift ) and performed his poetry all over this country. Woody Woodruff is often the first person to offer his time and talent for any charity or person in need and the last to complain. His raspy yet gentle voice captivates audiences.
Woody’s not just a one-liner, he’s a story teller. He appears to be as tough and intimidating as John Wayne, but he’s as meek and mild as Santa Claus. He’s also an author of poetry books; not to mention he was one of legendary George Jones’ employee and friends for many years.
I caught up with Woody on location at a movie shoot (soon to be announced) and managed to wrangle an interview:
Why are you called the “World Wide Unknown Poet”?
Because at the time I made that claim, I was new to the business and was indeed “World-Wide Unknown.” I was looking for something catchy too.
Are you currently working on any projects?
At the present I’m working with some folks about being part of a reality show. It’s not a done deal as of yet on the show itself, and I’d just be a small part. I have been asked about working in the upcoming movie Patsy about Patsy Cline but that too is only talk for now.
My favorite Poem by you is “That Faithful Day.” What inspired that poem?
It started as a poem about a cowboy friend, but as I drove and wrote—which I do a lot—God just kind had me change directions, leading me to what it is.
As you know, the ending of the poem has the cowboy saying, “And ever since that faithful day, me and the Lord, we stay in touch.”
Well at the time I had fallen away from attending church regularly. You know, work and etc. got in the way—so I thought. Anyway I read the poem to my youngest daughter, and when I got to the end where me and the Lord stay in touch, she looked at me and said, “Do you?”
I said, “Do I what?”
She said, “Stay in touch.”
Which I didn’t.
After that I got to thinking and turned things around and ever since He has been in my life. Shoot, I’ve even preached three sermons. But I am very active in church now.
You have won Cowboy Poet of the Year! Tell us more about that and how it felt when you won?
In 2003, after I had written “That Faithful Day”—even though I’d never recorded anything—I just felt the piece was good enough someone should record it. I tried to get it demoed but had no luck. Friends said I should record it, saying I sounded fine, so I did.
I sent it to a small western station in Cyril, Oklahoma, to Jo Hargrave and her Keepin’ It Cowboy show. I apologized for it being a demo saying I’d never done anything like this before. About a week later I received a call from Jo asking to talk to Woody. I said, “You are.” She told me who she was and that she had received the tape and for me not to apologize as it about made her husband cry. It had made her cry and would be on her show the next day. Then she asked if I had more. I said yes, but not recorded. At her insistence, I recorded the full CD and sent it to several western stations around the country. Jo also told me I should join the Academy of Western Artists and the WMA (Western Music Association), but at the time the AWA supported poets more.
Next it came time for nominations and someone nominated my CD for Poetry CD of the Year for 2004 and nominated me for Cowboy Poet. My CD made it to the top 5, and I made it to top 10. In 2005 I was nominated again for Cowboy Poet and won. Honestly, I don’t know how I won. I just thank God for letting me.
You had a personal relationship with the late George Jones. Would you share some fond memories of him?
Yes. I worked for him as farm manager for thirteen years. The one memory that comes to mind was he was going to let me open for him at Loretta Lynn’s ranch. At the time I’d only been on stage once and I wasn’t used to a big production and crowd. I started with the crowd yelling, “We want George! We want George!” Nervous, I started, but about the second verse into my first poem I forgot what I was saying. So I started again, still hearing, “We want George! we want George!” I forgot again, so I gave them George.
How does God reflect in your poetry and as an artist?
A lot of my poetry has God in it, and He is in my life each and every day. Both as an artist and as a simple person, I do everything to try to keep family friendly and to not be one bit ashamed or afraid to share God with folks during a show. “Ashamed” is a poor choice of words, but I think you know what I mean.
If you could act in a movie with any actor, dead or alive, who would it be and what kind of movie would it be?
Oh there are so many, but John Wayne, Ben Johnson and Jimmy Stewart all come to mind. I’d love to do a Christian/family western.