Jimmy Rose has become a hero to Bell and Harlan counties, and the Appalachian coalfields. He exemplifies the triad of values held by the majority of people in our region — God, country and coal.
It should be of no surprise that he has become a hero to us, giving our region something visible to pull together for during what may well be becoming the most difficult economic conditions in modern time.
“America’s Got Talent” strongly recommends that the contestants wear flashy clothes and avoid original songs. Jimmy Rose bucked both of these recommendations on his first televised appearance. He performed his original song, “Coal Keeps the Lights On,” and explained the importance of coal to his hometown, fully aware that coal is a controversial topic in many parts of the country and even in our own state.
That took tremendous courage for him to step out and sing that song — winning him the hearts of coal families through the nation. He stated that one of his top priorities in the competition was to support his hometown and its industry — coal. As a former coal miner, Jimmy Rose captured the hearts of miners and their families throughout the country and the world. His simple attire focused all attention on his message presented through song.
The Appalachian region has always been over-represented as a percentage of the military, particularly in times of war. Our people truly appreciate the service of our soldiers. In fact, most comments to Jimmy Rose in person and online start with, “First, thank you for your service.”
It was no surprise to us that Jimmy Rose was the only contestant who honored the heroes of 9/11 when he was selected as one of the final six contestants on that anniversary. What else have we come to expect?
Jimmy Rose is quick to acknowledge his love for God. He started singing in church at an early age. He gives God credit for all his successes and believes God has a plan for him. Recently, he visited a terminally-ill woman at her home and sang “Amazing Grace” at her bedside. It was an act of love, not a publicity stunt. Jimmy Rose also performs regularly at local nursing homes, another service to God and his community.
Since gaining national recognition, Jimmy Rose spends as much time as possible when home meeting his supporters and providing motivation to our students. It is important for our children to see people they know from our region doing big things. He recognizes that his current fame is a strong motivation for students.
Jimmy Rose has held many “meet and greet” events throughout southeastern Kentucky and Tennessee. He stays as long as necessary to answer questions, take photos with fans and shake hands. Often, fans end up with a hug as well. Jimmy Rose has worked hard to get where he is today.
When his “America’s Got Talent” adventure is over, we are confident he will still be the same polite and humble man that he’s always been. That’s his nature, and that’s one of the many reasons why we love him. Our region needs a lot more people like Jimmy Rose.