OC Local Breaking Through Country Ranks With Special Song ‘Superman’ Inspired By Cancer Patient

OC Local Breaking Through Country Ranks With Special Song ‘Superman’ Inspired By Cancer Patient
OC Local

OCEAN CITY – Rising country singer and former Ocean City local Jimmy Charles will always remember Sept. 1 as the day his wildest dreams came true.

That’s the day the video for his current single “Superman”, premiered on CMT (Country Music Television).

“My phone exploded,” recalls Charles. “They premiered it at 6 a.m., put it as the featured video on the website, and by the day’s end, it was the most watched video, and I was the fourth most searched for artist on the site behind names like Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan. I think all the notifications on my phone drained the battery twice.”

Earlier this week, the video premiered on GAC (Great American Country) to similarly big numbers, and it appears that the song could be, as they say in the industry, catching fire.

“Something absolutely special is happening right now with this song”, the Stephen Decatur High School graduate said. “I’m still an independent artist but I have a good team behind me pushing this song, and the more it blows up, the more of my dreams that are being fulfilled. This is the start of what could be an amazing ride.”

The Tune Inspires

“Superman” is a heartfelt country ballad inspired by a man named Phil Shulka, a Baltimore native whom doctors had given little hope to live after diagnosing him with stage 3 prostate cancer.

Charles met him while working as a volunteer with Chesapeake Urology in Baltimore. Shulka fought the cancer and became an inspirational mentor for men who have just been diagnosed with the disease that afflicts approximately 220,000 men annually in this country.

“Phil is just the most amazing guy, said Charles. “We flew him to Nashville and my co-writer Goose Gossett and I sat down with him in a studio on Music Row and just listened to him tell his story for about an hour.”

Charles, who also featured on season nine of the television show “American Idol,: admits some songs take months to finish, but “Superman” was different. He says it almost wrote itself.

“We wanted to tell what it was like to find out that you have cancer and you have to fight for your life,” said Charles, “but we wanted to make sure we conveyed that idea of ‘you are not alone’ as prostate cancer is a disease where many men suffer in silence.”

The song helped Charles become a national spokesperson for ZeroCancer.org, a national non-profit focused on ending prostate cancer, which also commissioned the professional recording and the video for “Superman.”

Charles has been touring around the country, playing the song, and speaking to crowds about the mission to end the disease.

“I’m not a doctor, but here I am spreading awareness about this disease through my music,” he said. “There is so much awareness about breast cancer in this country, but prostate cancer touches one in seven men, and that is terrifying because there is so little about it.”

Bittersweet Symphony

Folks familiar with Jimmy Charles will see that humble sincerity, his endless passion and that “local boy done good” charm in his performance on the “Superman” video, but he admits there is something else that he thinks about every time he sings it: his late father.

“Losing my dad to cancer [in 2014] was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with,” he said. “He bought me my first guitar, he ignited my passion for country music, and he, like so many other men, didn’t want to make a fuss about what he was struggling with. So singing this song each and every night for sometimes thousands of people has helped me turn an event in my life that made me want to curl up and cry into something positive for others.”

Charles says he can feel his father’s presence when he sings the tune, but laments the fact that his dad isn’t there to ‘high five’ and celebrate the recent success.

“I want this song to be like a George Strait tune, Charles says, ‘you touch people’s hearts and you stay there forever.’ I think this song will literally save lives, because men will hear this song and then go and get checked for this horrible disease that claims 30,000 lives every year.”

Paying His Dues

When Jimmy Charles moved to Nashville almost seven years ago, a friend told him that if he was going to “make it”, it was going to take at least seven to 10 years.

Like thousands of other hopeful songwriters who have driven up and down the infamous Music Row, Charles grinded out his early years in Nashville playing cover songs in local bars for little money and sometimes even less recognition.

“You have to plant seeds in Nashville, and it is frustrating how long it can take to watch them grow,” he said.

Perhaps ironically, Charles came across an old social media post recently from right around the time he moved to Nashville. The picture was of a CMT billboard. His post read: ‘no matter what happens, I am going to make it.’

“I think two people liked that post back then,” remember Charles.

Seven years and thousands of miles on the road later, Jimmy Charles and his song “Superman” might just be about ready to take flight.