He became serious about playing music professionally while a student at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and ultimately moved to Nashville, TN in 1977, where he landed his first professional job as a musician with Wilma Lee Cooper. He fast became a regular on the Grand Ole Opry. His work as a dobro player took him on the road and in the studio with numerous well known Bluegrass stars including the Osborne Brothers and Del and Ronnie McCoury. In 1994 he shared a Grammy Award with Jerry Douglas, Josh Graves, Rob Ickes, and others for his work on the all-star dobro album called The Great Dobro Sessions. He was also known as a member of the Country Gazette, and the Sidemen which were the house band of musicians at the famous Station Inn in Nashville, TN, a coveted position he held for more than ten years. For three years, he was named dobro player of the year by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass in America. He recorded one solo album. Late in his career he was best known for playing on Patty Loveless' award winning acoustic album, Mountain Soul.
Gene Wooten’s craftsmanship with wooden instruments of all kinds impressed his peers. He worked for various musical instrument manufacturers, repairing instruments for some of the world’s most famous Bluegrass musicians. He was especially appreciated for his ability to work on the dobro.