So much more than simply the culmination of his lifelong musical dreams, Strong Medicine, singer/songwriter Jimbeau Hinson’s highly anticipated debut on Wrinkled Records, is the poignant, heartfelt and inspirational story of his life. Showcasing the veteran country hitmaker’s edgy yet intimate vocals, hard-hitting, poetic lyrics, and pop, rock, folk and blues influences, the multi-faceted 11-track collection features songs that run the gamut of emotions--resolve in the face of life’s toughest challenges, forgiveness, love, emotional and physical survival, the importance of monogamy, and fortitude. Hinson began penning these pieces as part of his emotional therapy, but over the course of several decades, the project has blossomed into a deeply felt universal expression of hope.
Happily married to his wife Brenda for 36 years, Hinson—renowned for writing hits for Brenda Lee, Patti Loveless, Steve Earle and the Oak Ridge Boys--is unabashed about sharing the realities of a formerly open bisexual existence which resulted in his being diagnosed as HIV positive. It was a truth kept painfully secret for personal and professional reasons for many years. Two of Strong Medicine’s most powerful tracks are the moody rocker “Scratch,” written in 1983 shortly after the CDC announced that AIDS was sexually transmitted (chronicling their transition from an open relationship to monogamy); and “Strong Medicine,” penned in 1984 before a blood test was widely available. “I wrote this when love was the only medicine,” says Hinson. “It’s still the strongest.”
The philosophy behind “When You Give Up, You’re Gone” proved prescient a decade later, when Hinson’s system eventually crashed resulting in a near death experience.
It happened during a peak in his career, after “Party Crowd,” the Country hit he co-wrote with artist David Lee Murphy, was named the “Airplay Record” of 1995. Experiencing a warm, enlightening taste of the hereafter—what he calls “The All of Everything”—proved the ultimate life-changing experience.
In line with the concept of “Stones,” which chronicles the passage of time via life’s key moments, many of the album’s tunes emerged from important milestones along his journey. Hinson wrote “Not You Again” after he found out he was HIV-positive; the song thinly compares the virus to a bad relationship that kept showing up on his doorstep. The Motown inspired ballad “Distant Vision” finds him pondering the larger, eternal picture while witnessing the wasting away of the first of his many dear friends.
Perhaps the most hopeful song is the gospel flavored “Now,” a plea to live in the moment and enjoy the time we have.
Hinson opens Strong Medicine with “Dance of Life,” an exuberant new song about life
and the many stages we go through along the journey—from making love with the one you love to having kids, growing old and beyond. “Positive,” co-written recently with producer Kim Tribble, underlines the importance of remaining positive in the face of life’s most difficult moments. Though it was the most negative thing the singer had ever experienced, he lived to sing about how he survived being positive…by being positive. The reflective “Remember,” emerged from his surviving beyond the six months to two years his doctor first gave him. “It was to be my swan song,” the singer says, “but I’m still swimming.” The closing track, “Waiting At the Gate,” is inspired by his love for Brenda and how a man is usually waiting on a woman…whether at the airport or the gates of heaven. Because, as he sees it, “love waits patiently.”
“As grand as it sounds, I want this album to be the soundtrack of my life, and the book I am currently working on will fill in the rest of the story,” he says. “I’m just grateful I’m here to do it. All I want to do is more of this – live, love, write, sing, cook, eat, all of it. Be a friend indeed to those not yet befriending me, and through it all be forgiving to myself as well as to others. I want people to hear and see themselves in my music…to know they are not alone…that we are all in this together.”
Some of his hits include:
FANCY FREE for the Oak Ridge Boys
PARTY CROWD with David Lee Murphy
HILLBILLY HIGHWAY with Steve Earle
AFTER ALL by Patty Loveless
TRAIN OF MEMORIES by Kathy Mattea
BROKEN TRUST by Brenda Lee
HARMONY By John Conlee
COLORS by the Oak Ridge Boys (Gramny Nominated)