This video of "Without You" by Jemma Jacobs and Kevin Hankins, aka Back Roads, could be their ticket to the top. They were selected as one of six finalists for the Tom Thumb Texas Stampede Star search, and Internet votes would help them win the competition. The winner will take the stage in Dallas on the final night of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Championship benefiting Children's Medical Center. To see the video and cast a vote, click here.

Back roads of Hopkins County inspiration for duos' shot at fame

Cousins' homemade video could put them on same stage as Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert

By PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer

Oct. 30, 2008 - Cousins Jemma Jacobs and Kevin Hankins grew up on the back roads of Pickton and Pine Forest playing guitar and singing songs entertaining family members and friends on the front porches of their rural homes.

Not much has changed over the years, except the two have recently joined forces as the duo Back Roads, making it as one of six finalists on the Tom Thumb Texas Stampede Star search, and they are looking for hometown support by way of Internet votes to make it to the top three.

"We're just so excited to be doing what we love to do," said Jemma Jacobs, the 32-year-old daughter of Joe and Gina Murray.

The competition, sponsored in part by Fox 4 News, began Sept. 30. with participants having until Oct. 22 to bring in their DVD auditions.

"We heard about it and thought, 'Why not? Let's give it a shot. We're as good as anybody else,'" Jacobs said with a laugh.

Kevin grew up playing some Southern rock, but mostly rock n' roll. Jemma describes herself as singing more country blues. The two have lived side by side or across the street from each other their entire lives and continue to do so now with their own families. Jemma is the mother of three and Kevin the father of four.

Coming up with the name of their musical team was easy, according to Kevin, the son of Elizabeth and Gene Troutz and Butch Hankins.

"We've run up and down these back roads all our lives, even wrote a song about it. So we just thought it would make a cool name," he said.

According to Jemma, it was her mother who informed her late Monday night that their video had been posted on the Texas Stampede website. marking them as finalist along with five others.

"I was so excited," recalled Jemma. "I ran outside in my pajamas and bare feet; you know how cold it was that night, but I ran all the way over to Kevin's house to tell him.

"I was just shivering, but I don't really know if it was from the cold or my nerves and all the excitement," she added

The two immediately got online to see for themselves the video they made from the front porch of Jemma's mother's country home in Pickton.

"We were like, 'Can you believe this!' It's crazy, so exciting," Jemma exclaimed.

The cousins have only been playing together officially for about five months now, but things seem to be happening pretty quick for them.

Jemma said they have been asked to play live on 93.9 KOYN radio out of Paris and will also be performing Saturday at Pickton Tabernacle Church from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at a benefit for Art Foster, the proprietor of Foster's General Store, who was severely burned in an explosion behind his establishment just a few short weeks ago.

"He doesn't have any insurance and he was hurt pretty bad," Jemma explained. "That's what our music is really all about; using the gifts God gave us to touch the lives of others."

According to Jemma, music has been a part of both their lives since they were little.

"I've been singing since I was 3 and Kevin has played guitar for as long as I can remember. He's self taught and extremely talented," she said.

"It would be nice to play some big venues and be compensated for what we love to do and maybe one day end up on the CMA awards show," she added with a laugh.

But if Back Roads makes it to the Texas Stampede Top 3, that may not be so far-fetched, as they will be sharing the stage of the American Airlines Center with the likes of The Randy Rogers Band, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, all set to perform Nov. 7-9 after events of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Championship benefiting Children's Medical Center.

The Randy Rogers Band will take the stage Friday, Nov. 7, followed by Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton on Saturday, Nov. 8, with the Stampede Star's top 3 in the spotlight Sunday, Nov. 9.

"What we really want everybody to know is how much we love music and just want to share it with everybody else," Jemma said.

"That's why we do this; to share it with others," added Kevin. "We hope they enjoy listening to our music as much as we enjoy making it."

To show your hometown support for this local talent, log on to to view the duo's video and cast your vote. Deadline to vote is 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2.

Back Roads own website can be found at

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