Billy Gilman

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Billy Gilman was born William Wendell Gilman on May 24, 1988 in Westerly, Rhode Island and grew up in nearby Hope Valley. Exposed to many types of country music at a young age including artists like Pam Tillis, Tammy Wynette, George Jones and Eddy Arnold, Billy displayed a love of music and a talent for singing at a young age. Far from your typical stage-struck parents, Billy’s parents always delighted at their son’s gift and supported him in his efforts but never actively encouraged him to enter a career in music. However, thorough a series of introductions, Billy met the famous Ray Benson of the country swing band Asleep At The Wheel. Ray was instrumental in getting Billy exposure among Nashville music makers, recording a demo with him in Austin, Texas and featuring Billy’s singing in some of his shows. Before you knew it, Billy inked a deal with Epic Nashville and later sang live at the Academy of Country Music Awards, receiving a standing ovation. He was now a star at the age of eleven.

Billy’s first single, the title track from his debut album One Voice, hit the airwaves and made Billy the youngest artist since Brenda Lee to have a song on the country singles charts as the single climbed to the top 20. The follow up single “Oklahoma” reached the top 40 of the singles charts. His debut album was soon certified platinum, selling over a million copies a mere three weeks after its initial release in September 2000. Soon enough Billy’s face was all over television as the videos for “One Voice” and “Oklahoma” received heavy airplay on CMT (Country Music Television).

Following up the release of One Voice was a Christmas album titled Classic Christmas featuring a duet with Charlotte Church, herself a fellow teenage country singer. It was also a sales success, reaching number 4 on the country album charts and achieving certified gold status by the close of the year. Following that was Dare to Dream, which was released just weeks before Billy’s thirteenth birthday and hit number 6 on the country album charts. The album spawned the hits “She’s My Girl” and “Elisabeth,” the latter written about a girl battling a terminal illness. Sometime after this, Billy recorded the song “Count on Me,” which appeared on the Stuart Little 2 soundtrack.

“Elisabeth” proved somewhat prophetic for Billy’s career as he tackled his next project, a collaborative effort that saw Billy putting voice and song to the poems of Mattie T.J. Stepanek, a bestselling author of poetry and a sufferer of Muscular Dystrophy. The album, Music Through Heartsongs, was definitely a departure for Billy, and wasn’t the sales successes his predecessors were. The album also showcased Billy’s now deepened voice which had definitely “grown up” since One Voice. There was somewhat of a pall cast over it as well when Mattie Stepanek finally succumbed to his illness on June 22, 2004. Billy used this time to disappear from the public eye, taking a break from music and doing normal things like going to school.

His break was not entirely voluntary, though. In response to his voice changing, Billy was ordered by his doctors to rest his voice and not sing, for fear he would do damage to his vocal cords. He was also dropped by his record label, Epic Nashville. But, with the assistance of the talented staff of the Vanderbilt Voice Clinic in Nashville, Billy’s voice has changed, deepened, but is still as rich as ever. Showcasing his new vocal abilities, Billy issued the album Everything And More on the Image Entertainment label. It was the eventual answer to the question everyone asked upon Billy’s debut, “Will he just be a flash in the pan?” With this latest album, Billy shows that his voice is still as rich as ever, and he still has the ability to sing and entertain people well into his adulthood. We all hope he continues to do so.

In a video posted on November 20, 2014, Gilman came out as gay and stated that he had been with his current boyfriend for five months. Gilman said he was "scared to death" of the announcement and the implications it could have on his career. “It’s difficult for me to make this video, not because I'm ashamed of being a gay male artist, or a gay artist or a gay person, but it’s pretty silly to know that I'm ashamed of doing this knowing that I'm in a genre and an industry that’s ashamed of me for being me.”[1] [2]


Discography

See also

References

  1. "Country Singer Billy Gilman Comes Out As Gay", Instinct, instinctmagazine.com, November 20, 2014. Retrieved on November 20, 2014. 
  2. MY STORY BY BILLY GILMAN (YouTube Video)


External links