Jay DeMarcus’ Mom Gave Up a Record Deal to Be a Wife and Mother
In his new memoir, Jay DeMarcus not only gives fans an intimate look into his own personal life, but also paints a picture of his parents and his family's genesis. In telling his parents' stories, just as he does when he tells his own, the country star doesn't shy away from the difficult times, including the moment when, early in his parents' relationship, his mom walked away from a Decca Records contract and an opening slot for Loretta Lynn.
DeMarcus' mom, Caron Eileen Kirk, dreamed of a career in country music all her life, and even was part of a small local band. In 1969, she entered a contest called Ohio's Country Music Queen, and won first place with her rendition of Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man."
However, DeMarcus' dad, Stanley Wayne DeMarcus, objected to his wife-to-be following that dream. A talented aspiring musician himself, he saw the record contract as a threat to their life together, and gave her an ultimatum: She could either pursue music and stardom or keep their relationship. She chose the latter.
The marriage that followed was far from perfect -- they divorced when DeMarcus was seven years old, remarried and then divorced again -- but the country star says that his mom never regretted her decision, especially because it led to the birth of DeMarcus and his sister, Tiffany.
"My mom is not the kind of person that looks back on things and goes, 'Boy, I wish I would have done this differently. I've never known her to sit around and sulk about something that did or didn't happen," DeMarcus reflects to The Boot. Plus, he adds, she got a chance to get a glimpse into that life of stardom later, when her son became a member of the superstar country group Rascal Flatts.
"[My parents] have sort of lived vicariously through me. So she's always said, 'I feel like I've gotten to experience it all anyway now, through you,'" DeMarcus relates. "And her main thing is, she's always said, 'If I'd taken that record deal and moved to Nashville, I wouldn't have had you and your sister.' So in a lot of ways, I think that she feels like that was God's providence in her own life."
PICS: See Jay DeMarcus + More Country Stars With Their Moms
As he wrote the portions of the book detailing his parents' life before he was born, DeMarcus knew he could never know with exact confidence what his mom and dad were feeling during that time. So, he explains, "What I tried to do, constantly, in my storytelling was to put myself in each of their shoes."
"I can't imagine in a million years having something in front of you that you've dreamed of your whole life, and going, 'No, I don't think so. I think I wanna stay here and become a wife and mother,'" he adds. "I'm thankful to have been able to tell their story, and I hope I've been gracious to both of them."
DeMarcus' mom has supported him through every aspect of his life and career, and that extends to his decision to write about his family's life in his memoir. "She's kind of the centerpiece of the story," he notes, "and a lot of her runs through the book." His dad's response to the project, however, was a slightly different story.
"I don't know if he's read it. And I didn't really talk to him a whole lot about it. We don't have the kind of relationship where we do a whole lot of deep conversations, but he loves me, and I'm sure he's supportive of me," DeMarcus says. "He's probably going to read some things and go, 'Well, why in the world would you tell that?!'"
In one instance, in his book, DeMarcus details an afternoon after his parents' first separation, when he, his mom and sister were living with his grandparents: While DeMarcus was outside playing in the yard, his dad drove by the house and scooped him up, taking him back to the family's former home. Once there, DeMarcus recalls, his dad loaded a shotgun and placed it by the front door, saying he would shoot anyone who tried to take his son away. The ordeal lasted a few days, but, ultimately, his dad called his mom and asked her to come and pick up their son.
Despite scary moments like these, however, DeMarcus never villainizes his father in the book. "The thing for me is that I love both of my folks, and I have great relationships with each of them," he explains. "My relationship with my dad was a little more complicated over the years -- I didn't live with him growing up -- but the one thing that I had a strong bond over him with was music."
With that bond in mind, DeMarcus tried to imagine what it must have been like for his dad seeing his mom, at the very beginning of their relationship, being pulled away from him and their life together and toward the very career at which he had strived to be successful for so long.
"[I tried to] put myself in my dad's shoes and imagine how he must have felt, to be losing that person that he loved -- the fear he probably had of her moving off and becoming a big star, and him never being in her life again," he says. "I tried to always be fair in the telling of these stories [and consider] their thought processes, what they were going through in these situations."
Although he knows some of the moments in the book might be painful for his dad to relive, they were an important part of DeMarcus' own life story. "I had to tell my truth and how my childhood affected me," he points out.
"I knew some people would probably have some other opinions," he concludes, "but I had to tell my side of the story."
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