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Episode 46

Country Music & Inclusivity featuring Billy Gilman

Episode  46
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Billy Gilman’s story is as American and as moving and inspiring as the lyrics of any country music song. Signed to a record deal at age 11, Billy’s smash hit One Voice captured hearts and fans but Billy’s awareness of his truth was moving faster than Nashville’s ability to accept it. Billy came out as gay in 2014 and moved into the power pop lane for his season on The Voice where he placed second. Only now is he turning back towards his country roots, collaborating with the acapella group Home Free for a reimagining of his first hit. Billy is here to talk about all of it.

Plus Fritz and Weezy are recommending David Attenborough’s Life in Color on Netflix, Framing John DeLorean on Amazon Prime, documentaries on the Dixie Chicks’ and the Chely Wright, Shut Up and Sing and Wish Me Away and Ken Burns’ Country Music series on PBS.

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Louise Palanker (00:00:04):

Welcome to Media Path. I am Louise Palanker

Fritz Coleman (00:00:07):

And I'm Fritz Coleman.

Louise Palanker (00:00:08):

Our guest coming up is Billy Gillman, who began his music career as a remarkably gifted preschooler from Rhode Island, who was signed to Epic Records Nashville in the year 2000 at the age of 11. Unbelievable. Yes. And he has grown and evolved into a brilliant artist who placed second on season 11 of The Voice. Is that correct, Billy? Do we have the season? Season? Okay.

Fritz Coleman (00:00:32):

And he has lived a life that most adults haven't lived, just in what he's had to, uh, rise above. And it's gonna be a great conversation.

Louise Palanker (00:00:40):

Inspirational. And Billy has recently dropped a hot acapella re-imagining of his huge single one voice, which will grab your heart and stir your soul. Billy joins us shortly, but first, Fritz, what are you recommending for us this week?

Fritz Coleman (00:00:51):

I have a couple of streamings, and the first one's Netflix. And, you know, I hope people aren't bored with me trying to call attention to David Attenborough again, but his <laugh>, go ahead. His nature documentaries are so incredible. Here's one I absolutely can't avoid mentioning to you, if you haven't heard about it. It's currently streaming on Netflix. It's a life in color. It is amazing. This one explores nature from a fresh perspective as animals use color to survive and thrive. His photographic team uses the latest technology to replicate what colors various animals can and cannot see. They have lenses that give you the perspective of various animals really cool, and how they react to certain colors and certain colors that represent a threat. How animals have the ability to change their colors, to blend into a natural environment, how they exhibit bright displays of color to get a mate, how they changed their colors, to appear to be another species of animal, really spectacular.


David Attenborough, you know, he was in his eighties and he treks through the wildlands jungles and forests and the, uh, outback to weave these great narratives. This is a perfect show to watch with the kids or a family member of any age. Great lessons in the miracles of nature. Jaw dropping photography, highly recommended for everybody. And my second pick for people of a certain age, Weezy. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Framing, John DeLorean. Mm. This is on Prime video right now. There, there's several reasons I think to watch this documentary. This is the story of John DeLorean, who was a brilliant designer and marketer of cars at General Motors during their heyday in the seventies and eighties. It's the story of an American auto industry at the peak of its power. It's the story of a brilliant guy who beat the odds, straining, uh, striking out on his own to design and manufacture a futuristic sports car called the DeLorean.


It's ultimately the story of the downfall of this brilliant movie star, handsome man who crashed and burned when he tries to sell cocaine to keep his car company solvent, even though it's a documentary for the most part, there's some really interesting devices used. Alec Baldwin plays the role of John DeLorean in various scenes from his life. And then he also steps out of character and breaks the fourth wall to give his thoughts on the psychology of DeLorean, like what he's thinking at certain parts of his life. It's a really interesting way to do a movie. Other actors played key roles like his wife Christina Ferrari, who, full disclosure I did a Perry Mason episode with. We were both Suspects in a Murderer. And I will tell you that n neither of us did it. In case you ever wanna watch that episode. Howard Weitzman, his attorney, is played by another actor.


Now, this is a commentary, uh, also from the real son of DeLorean, Zach DeLorean. And, and this part of it is depressing, but interesting to say the least, from his shame at what his father did as a downfall to the tainting of the family name, to currently spending his life in a rundown apartment. It's really interesting. This story was headline news for a long time when it was happening in real time. It gives great insight into another, uh, aspect of the story. And it teases us, and this is the fun part with a theory held by some people that the drug bust itself, that everybody remembers from the, uh, security camera video was all a setup. If you're old enough to remember this story dominating the Nightly News, you'll enjoy this movie framing. John DeLorean, we,

Louise Palanker (00:04:35):

That sounds like the craziest movie I've ever heard described, but I love the genre bending movies where they have like part documentary and then part reenactment and everything in between, just, yeah.

Fritz Coleman (00:04:45):

And I think the, the reason for that was there has always been, uh, a, a desire to make a John DeLorean movie, and nobody's ever figured out how to do it properly so they would care enough. So this blended the documentary aspect of it, which is great, cuz it's got all the footage and then, and, and then the, the Alec Baldwin aspect obviously is a big draw. It's, it's really cool.

Louise Palanker (00:05:06):

Yes. That sounds amazing. All right. So if you are like me and you are obsessed with country music, or even if you are mildly curious about the origins and the history of this uniquely American art form, then dive into Ken Burn's eight part documentary series on country music. Ken Burns tells stories as rich and colorful as those in the lyrics of the songs that create the threads and patterns of country music. But in the country quilt, there have historically been some missing patches. Country artists have been expected to look and think and feel a certain type of way. The community can be as warm and friendly as it can be restrictive and exclusionary. Take for example, the Dixie Chicks. In 2003, after the start of the Iraq War, the chicks Natalie Mains said on stage in London that she felt ashamed to be from Texas.


This one comment shut down their careers. The ensuing events were documented in a film called Shut Up and Sing, which follows the Dixie Chicks over a three year period of intense public scrutiny, fan backlash, physical threats, and record burnings and pressure from both corporate and conservative political elements in the us. Can we talk about cancel culture? Cuz they kind of invented it. In 2010, Shelley Wright realized that she could no longer live as a closeted country artist. So she released a memoir like Me, confessions of a Heartland Country Singer. And the album lifted off the ground. Both projects were centered around her coming out process and her acceptance of herself. During this period, she moved to New York City and released a documentary chronicling her coming out journey called Wish Me Away. She would later establish a charity like me, which helped provide assistance to L G B T Q Youth.


She has since been a spokesperson for programs such as gl, s e N I'm not sure if there's a, a quicker way to say that, and other activism related programs. Shelly also got married and she has two children in her music stylings. She has transitioned to the Americana and folk genres. So those are some interesting documentaries to, to take a look at if you're interested in the history of, of country music. And I'm gonna begin introducing our guest, Billy, which we're, I'm really looking forward to. Yes, we talked to him before the show in the Green room. Lovely guy, <laugh>. The the green room is in the cloud. <laugh>, we're in the studio. Billy's somewhere on Zoom, but, uh, he's with us. Trust me. As a child, Billy Gillman was drawn to country music at age 11. He became the youngest artist to ever score a top 40 hit on the country charts with his smash One voice. Growing up, he was the darling of the national community. And after maturing into his adult voice, he has become an exceptional artist who is using the power of his voice for good. Billy is an advocate for muscular dystrophy and souls for souls. In 2016, after fully growing into his true self, Billy auditioned for the Voice. He was a four chair turn and he finished the season as the runner up scoring over 31 million views on YouTube for his performances. Welcome Billy.

Billy Gilman  (00:08:00):

Hi Billy. Hey, where are you right now? You can hear me? Yeah. I am home in my home state of Rhode Island. I was supposed to, I lived in Nashville for many years, was supposed to remove, and then the pandemic happened. So I said, I'm not gonna move now, I'm gonna stay close to my family. And it's, it's been, it's been fun. Yeah,

Louise Palanker (00:08:17):


Billy Gilman  (00:08:18):

It's been great

Louise Palanker (00:08:19):

Outta here. No, it's like everyone's kind of like, uh, finding their pandemic blessings and learning something or relearning something. And what, how, what has it been like for you?

Billy Gilman  (00:08:31):

Well, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm on my own, you know, on my own, my own place. So it's not like confined, which is great. So you can see them when you choose kind of like grandchildren, <laugh>,

Louise Palanker (00:08:39):


Billy Gilman  (00:08:41):

Uh, but you know, the, the beauty of it is there's no beauty in loss of life. Um, you know, it's been horrific for the world and what's, um, what I'm seeing going on in India, it just, I'm such an advocate for people that I can't watch it. I, you know, which is so not the right thing to say. Mm-hmm. I understand. But I just, it's so guts wrenching Yeah. To see these poor people just acting as their brother's doctor pounding on their chest cuz they can't get any, Ugh. It's just mind blowing. Um, but the beauty for me personally was of course time with, with family literally stopping. But I didn't stop. Like, I saw so many interviews on like Kelly and Michael and thanks, and they were interviewing some big artist and they took up knitting <laugh>. Now that's great. But I said, no, if I can't do, if I can't do singing in, in front of someone, I can find a way to do singing in other ways.


And so I, you know, switched everything to virtual. I mean, I've done over 70 charity events, um, via, you know, singing, uh, or talking, hosting. Uh, and then I do a nightly quarantines, not quarantine, but quarantines, uh, Friday nights on my, uh, Facebook. And because of that, I only had like 60, 70,000 followers on Facebook. And now, 13, 14 months later, we're honing in on 300,000. So, wow. It just, you know, it, it's, it's, it's, it's been an interesting journey. I took up a software editing thing to make music videos. I mean, you, you do what you gotta do. Absolutely. But,

Fritz Coleman (00:10:14):

But you, even from a very young age, have been aware of your social responsibilities. When you were 15 years old, you recorded music through Heart songs, which was a really interesting album of work by a child poet, Maddy Stefanik, who died of muscular dystrophy at 14. And so you, you, you were aware enough to see the value in that at 15 talk about that album. But what a great story. Uh, talk, just talk about that coming to your awareness and how you made the album.

Billy Gilman  (00:10:45):

Yeah. So, um, it's just funny how the muscular DYS dystrophy, I was supposed to be in that family. I just, it's just was, I did the telethon, uh, ooh, four years before that. And I just saw, and I, I, I've been with Marlo Thomas, I've done the Jimmy Fund in Boston, Massachusetts. I've, I've done all these things. And when I got involved with the M B A, just as a simple performer show up, sing goodbye, I felt so connected. And it became something where I said, I, in the back of my head, I really hope that I can be involved with this organization more. And fast forward four years after that, I was on Larry King. And if you're really famous, uh, r i p Larry. But, um, if you're really famous, you get the whole hour. Well, I got the half hour <laugh>. Um, and so we talked about what I've done so far, what I planned to do.


Y you know, the whole thing. And I sang, and then the, I was wondering who they would have as a second guest. And it was Maddy. And he had already been on New York Times Bestseller list at 12 years old. That instantly I was in the kitchen because my parent, I was living at home with my parents. I was only, you know, what, what, whatever I was 14 mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, um, I, they always made a point to watch these interviews, meaning, I, I, it's so embarrassing to sit and watch yourself with now at this point 14 with Acme. And your voice is kind of sounding like et on track. <laugh> <laugh>. It's very, very interesting. Very interesting. So I'm like, kind of like one eyeing interview. So I didn't know who they had on. So Maddy starts to speak, and when they said New York Times bestseller at 12, I went, that's like me on the chart at 12.


What? Wait. So I walk in the living room and here he is in his wheelchair and his oc you know, you know, his breathing treat his breathing tubes and all of that. And you would never have known that he was a patient with, uh, mitochondrial myopathy, which is one of 120,000 people in the world that have this type of md uh, and muscular dystrophy umbrellas 40 diseases. Um, but he's this miraculous godsend. And he started to read his poems. This is what he went on the New York Times bestseller list for. He was a poet, and he was talking about how it's gone from battlefields to backyards. We need to stop before the world. We're all a mosaic of gifts thinking this is music, this is not, you know, and I go for the, you know, art Romeo, this is like, you know, this, this is real musical.


It needs, it needs to have another avenue rather than just on paper. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So we were actually, uh, gathering songs, just normal singles, you know, like a normal record for the fourth installment of, of my obligation with Epic. And I said, no, we gotta throw all that to the wind. I have an idea and I really think it'll touch a lot of lives. You know, I, I think it's early in my career, but I wanna do, uh, you know, a kind of record that's not a commercial record. I, I wanna do a, a, a story record. And they, they fought me. No, this is gonna be, this is gonna be horrific. You're not gonna sell 20,000 copies. You're, this is, and I said, I need to do this for this child. You know, you know, who knows how long he has left, hopefully years and years and years, but these poems need to be heard rather than just red.


And they finally gave me the green light. Um, and I went to his mother and, you know, my team went to his mother, who was his manager. S you know, mama dog over watching his, his rights and his copywriting and all of that with the, with the publishing. And we brought forth some I ideas. I got together some of the best writers in Nashville to create the melodies cuz the lyrics were still there. You know, they're there, they're already there. Right. And, um, yeah, I was so happy it went to the top 10 of the charts and for, you know, it did so well for him. And, and apparently they had a lot of bigger artists than myself come forward and wanna do a record of these poems. But I guess they said to me, the heart wasn't there. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we felt that you needed to do this not to be seen, but on behalf of the, uh, on behalf of the, the content.

Fritz Coleman (00:14:59):

Also, the fact that you were similar ages Yeah. Probably put you in. Yeah. That helped in his mindset a

Louise Palanker (00:15:05):

Little bit. What did, what did you learn from Maddie? He, you know, he was only here almost 15 years, but, so there's not a lot of people that have even been able to spend time with him. What, what have you learned from him?

Billy Gilman  (00:15:17):

I learned not, so, I, I learned, first of all, in a very, in a, in an obvious way. I learned not to sweat the small stuff, number one. But number two, we were sitting, it was me, president Carter <laugh>, whoa, um,

Fritz Coleman (00:15:33):

<laugh> name Dropper

Billy Gilman  (00:15:35):

La Larry, cuz he was the one that kind of got this whole thing started. Bruce Roberts, who's a producer for Barbara Streisand and all these people, uh, and Ed McMahon most random table, uh, it's like the Last Supper celebrity style. Right. <laugh> and <laugh>. And it's on behalf of Madie. This is his heart song gala. And he's sitting there and I have to get up and speak before I'm singing. I only have to speak maybe 20 seconds, and I am a wreck. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like I, I, I have my whole script plus breathe. Like I have literally, and breathe pause. Right. I'm so thorough like that. And this kid gets up and does a whole 10 minute speech off the top of his head. Wow. And I'm just sitting there so embarrassed. And he comes back down, he sits back down the beside me and I said, Maddy, I just gotta be honest. You see what I'm doing here? Lamenting over the script, <laugh>, how do you do that? And he says, if it comes from the heart, you never have to think about it. Aw. And that, where

Fritz Coleman (00:16:33):

Does that wisdom come from at 14?

Billy Gilman  (00:16:34):

That, that was a wi that was such a, a, a teaching lesson for me in 10 seconds. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, you know, there many, many layers of lessons I learned from him, but never dial it in was a major, major, major lesson.

Louise Palanker (00:16:47):

I love that. Can you talk a little bit about your journey in the context of Nashville's journey towards diversity and inclusion? Because you kind of grew up with Nashville, at least in terms of that, and they, they seem to be doing better or working at it, but what are, what are your thoughts regarding how it impacted your childhood?

Billy Gilman  (00:17:07):

Well, I wasn't the normal, like when I, when I'm with other younger artists that either are growing up or have grown up, Erin Carters all those kids, Hillary Duff, you know, well, she's different. She's, she's fine. Um, I was pushing my parents, you're we're gonna do this. Come on, let's go. Rather than having a stage mom mm-hmm. <affirmative> at, at three years old, I heard Pam Tillis. There was a, a, a Sea World. Well, first of all, they have me at 18 months old singing the Jeopardy theme in my highchair <laugh>. Um, it's just, it shows me, it, it, there's no other way to, it's

Louise Palanker (00:17:43):

All about Song Choice,

Billy Gilman  (00:17:44):

Billy around them. That's it. Hey, listen, <laugh>, it's all about singing. Um, and then all of a, and then at three years old, um, there was a SeaWorld celebration, you know, because we had a little TV with Rabbit Is, and you dialed it in, you know, we didn't have many options. And it was on a, B, c or whatever local channel and celebrating the dolphins in the whale. And me being a child, my mother thought, oh, this will be great for him to watch. You'll love that. Well, Pam Tillis, a country icon was on singing one of her songs. And that was it. Um, the following year I was packing a suitcase, God knows where I got it, saying, I'm moving to Nashville to see Pam Tillis. <laugh>. I mean, it's, did

Fritz Coleman (00:18:23):

You write back to your folks?

Billy Gilman  (00:18:25):

I did. I, they, they wished me, well, they packed my diapers,

Fritz Coleman (00:18:29):

<laugh>. You know, just speaking about that and the point that Wheezy made, I want to ask you a question while we're talking about that. You made an interesting comment somewhere about your talent maturing. So you're that age and you're growing into an, an adult singer, you said, I finally discovered what it is I wanted to sing, which I thought was really interesting. You, you had, you had things when you were very young that made you happy or types of music, and then you had to find out where your talent was and what you really enjoyed singing. Talk about that transition at that age.

Billy Gilman  (00:19:06):

It's still a transition to be completely transparent. Um, I, I lo all right. So at, at that very early age, but say I'm a say it's a quote unquote normal childhood, meaning I go to school and then I have summer break, and then you get ready to go back to school in Aug late August, September, and your parents get you ready. Meaning they pick out what they think is cute for jeans. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, or a sweatshirt, or a backpack or a shoe type. And you're like, oh, great. Thanks, bye. <laugh>. Well, that was my mu well, that was my musical taste. I listened to what was in front of me. Right. Which was country music. So naturally that's what they like. That's what I like. So I just had a, a natural sense of, I love this genre. Every Friday night on t n n, when t n n was still around mm-hmm. <affirmative>,


I'd watch the, uh, grand Old Opry with my grandmother and I'd, you know, see, you know, Jeanie Sealy and <laugh>, you know, whispering Bill Anderson, and then Pam Tills would come on and all, you know, that's all I knew. So naturally that's where I was gonna go. Then as I got older, 13, 14, 15, I'm being thrown into singing with Michael Jackson and Madison Square Garden, and I'm seeing Liza Minnelli sing, and I'm seeing NSYNC sing, and I'm going, whoa. Why is this really, why, why do I wanna do that? Why am I not not happy? I'm always happy with music and singing, but why do I wanna be like that? So you shift a little bit mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so my favorite artist to this day is, is Barbara Streisand. Number one, her voice is just un not of this earth. I will tell you. So in my opinion mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I always would go do my one voices in my country stuff, and then I'd get on the tour bus or the hotel, and I'd sing people, people who need people. Right. I just loved that kind of music. Maybe because I was told not to do it. Hmm. So that's in my head, brewing it, an adolescence mentality and all of that. That

Louise Palanker (00:21:04):

Was your rebellion. Barbara Streisand, <laugh>, or Pop. You, you were a rough kid.

Billy Gilman  (00:21:08):

You that kind, that kind of thing. You were

Louise Palanker (00:21:10):

A rough kid to raise.

Billy Gilman  (00:21:12):

Oh yeah. Totally.

Fritz Coleman (00:21:14):

<laugh>. So did your parents, did your parents give you pushback when you wanted to do other genres of music?

Billy Gilman  (00:21:19):

No. It was all industry worry. No, it was all like, I, I wanted to add strings to a song. Cause I thought they were beautiful. Or a horn or a harp, you know, kind of, there's a, a, a lane that you don't cross, if you will. You keep with the guitars and the steel and the fiddle, and that's, you know, whatever. Uh, but all in my mind, I'm going, they think they can pull out the wool over me. In 1963, Eddie Arnold recorded a record with the Nashville Sound, which was a 13 piece orchestra.

Louise Palanker (00:21:47):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm.

Billy Gilman  (00:21:48):

<affirmative>. So I'm, I know my knowledge, we can do this. It's just Right. You're not allowing your artist to do this. Anyway. That's all.

Louise Palanker (00:21:55):

And you were always thinking like an arranger.

Billy Gilman  (00:21:58):

Yeah. Right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that was always pent up in me, you know. So I, I would always do my, after the hits were there and I was touring, I would always kind of go this way. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So in my show, I would do my country and then I would do A, B, C, and Rock and Robin, or I would do Roy Orbison's crying as pretty country. But I made it very dramatic and a very big ballad. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, so I was always kind of crossing that wave. And, um, when my voice changed, that was, took a forever. And that gave me a, a minute to sit and think. And at that point, I wanted to go do that Celine Dion stuff. If God willing, my voice was supposed to come back. Because before it was huge. It was big and it was belty. And I could do that. And that's kind of what set me apart. And then it was gone, of course, for a while. I grabbed myself to sleep many nights because I thought it would never come back. Cuz when I would tell, when I tell you guys I would go to sing and I'd go, Hey, I'll do, and I would go and it just, the vocal chords would not work. So I thought I damaged it. I had to go under voice rest for six weeks at a time. It was a mess. Well,

Louise Palanker (00:23:03):

I have a question about that, because most, yeah. Most boys are not professional singers, so it's not that urgent. Right. But, uh, I watched a movie, a Disney movie, about the Vienna Boys choir and like, you know, as soon as your voice breaks, you're, you're, you're benched. But how much concern is there that it's not coming back? Or did the doctor say, oh, it will come back. You, you sang at 10, you are a singer, you will sing. You just have to give it time. Was there any worry that, or is there any worry with boy singers that I, if you sing through the change, you might break something for life?

Billy Gilman  (00:23:40):

So that's exactly what happened to me. Stephen Brown was my doctor. I don't know, he's still there. I haven't been, and I go to other doctors now, but Steven Brown was the doctor that brought us through these steps of the voice change. He was part of Vanderbilt's, uh, Nashville, Tennessee Clinic Voice Clinic. And we went to him in the, something felt off. I was on the road, I thought I was tired, do seven shows a week. Um, when, and he's like, well, I think you might be starting the voice change. I can already just tell by the way you're speaking. I'm like, oh God, not me. Billy thinking, poor me. I'm thinking, well, there's seven band members, three trucks, two buses, all these poor people are going outta work because Mother Nature decides to, you know, show up. And I just had a, I had a breakdown.


So in my head I turned it off. Nope. If I keep singing, it will never leave <laugh>. So I just kept, I just kept going and almost did it in, we went back to him, Dr. Brown, and he said, obviously you have not listened and if you want a career, a career outside of your youth, you've got to stop. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, so I, I stopped and, um, yeah, it took a long time. And then it took a long time. So there was a day that all of a sudden, after all of this wonder, cuz you still don't know what it's gonna, it could be an awful sounding singing voice. You don't know what it's gonna settle into. I could have gone from that beautiful little angelic voice to, you know, digging up. I mean, who knows who's what could have happened. Right. <laugh>. So, and that's fine too. But it, it could have been a totally different picture

Fritz Coleman (00:25:13):

In return to a beautiful high tenor voice. Your your voice is spectacular even. Thank you. In the later stuff.

Louise Palanker (00:25:19):

Yeah. No, you have, you have one of the great voices in, in the world.

Billy Gilman  (00:25:23):

And well, oh, I don't know about that, but thank you. No, I, but anyway, but it, it took me a year and a half to retrain it. It's not like I just started up again. You know, it was, it took a long, it took many years of this to come back to where it was safe to really belt hit it like I used it. Right, right.

Fritz Coleman (00:25:39):

Let me ask you something. When you were 11, which was the first version of One Voice when it was a hit the first time. Is that right? 11 years old.

Billy Gilman  (00:25:47):

Yeah. 12 was the Yes, 11 was the single. 12 was the record.

Fritz Coleman (00:25:50):

Yeah. So did you do the Road to Back that song and do all the things that adults do and go in 25 cities in 30 days and do that whole routine?

Billy Gilman  (00:26:01):

I don't think we did 25, but in the initial, well, no, that's not true. So the initial part was, um, we recorded the song. We recorded the record. The record was done. They picked one Voices, the record, they did the video. We hit certain spots. Cincinnati, I remember going to Kansas City, Nashville, of course, Memphis, kz LA and Los Angeles. Um, Florida. And Miami was one of the, so we hit key spots. But then I was on the road with Riva for six weeks. Cool. We did, we did a number of spots. She gave me the opening act. It was myself and Brad Paisley. And we just switched off. Ah. And then I went on a spotty tour with Martina McBride. I did before, before any of this ever happened. Before one Voice was even recorded, I did the whole George Strait Stadium tour with Ray Benson and sleep at the Wheel. Wow.

Louise Palanker (00:26:51):


Billy Gilman  (00:26:52):

Cow. Um, so from George Strait to Reba, to Martina to Tricia. And then I did my own 90 city tour. Um, so yeah, we worked and then it off that you're doing Regis. Well, it was, what's her name? Kelly. Uh, you know, you're doing all these Oprahs and you see, so when you are resting, you're not really resting. Right. You're rehearsal for a new record or a photo shoot or saying hi to Oprah or whatever. Um, so yeah, we did the, we did the whole thing. I remember waking up at four o'clock in the morning and then worrying, okay, I got an eight o'clock show, but I hate napping because when you napped, your voice gets tired.

Louise Palanker (00:27:29):

Oh my gosh.

Billy Gilman  (00:27:30):

Yeah. It's, it was, it's a whole thing. So

Fritz Coleman (00:27:32):

You, you said your career was your choice, but do you feel like there were several large pieces of your childhood missing, having to live a life like that at 12 years old?

Billy Gilman  (00:27:43):

Nope. <laugh>, I'm one of the rare ones who love every bit of it.

Louise Palanker (00:27:47):

I mean, you were learning from the greats. Mm-hmm.

Billy Gilman  (00:27:50):

<affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And yeah, I just, there was never a moment of, I don't wanna do this. I mean, I, I, I'd sit down and do 65 radio interviews right in a row. I, I loved it. I loved every people. Would the record ex go, we have 40 year old superstars that call us names cuz they hate to do this. Yeah. I've, I've, I've always loved it. Every facet I've loved because I realize that it's a rare thing. And the more I'm getting older and the struggles with it, cuz you know, careers go like this sometimes they stay down for a while. They go, the more gratification comes from it, in my opinion. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:28:25):

So let's talk, let's go back to, uh, Nashville's journey as towards more inclusion. How do you, how do you feel, I know you're kind of turning away from country music in terms of your stylings, but how do you feel they're doing? Cuz I could, I can feel them, I can feel them attempting to, to grow.

Billy Gilman  (00:28:42):

Well, it's funny you say that. So when I was on The Voice, I, I knew that, first of all, I wanted to try my hand at adult contemporary pop music. Just as in my head say I did it. It's like, you might be a comedy actor and that's what you do, but you have it in your head. You wanna do this dramatic role cuz you wanna prove it, that you can dig deep. Which comedy is harder than drama. Mind you. Yep. Um, um, I, in my head, when this opportunity fell in my lap, they had been calling for three years. And I kept saying, I don't, I started out with a, without a reality show, I'm gonna, I'm gonna start again without a reality show, <laugh>. I don't want it. And, you know, the, the fourth time they called, I went silent on the phone and I said, you know what, this is a huge opportunity.


In today's day and age, people do not get artist development deals anymore. That does not happen. Uh, how are people gonna see me grow week after week? Know that I'm alive, know that I'm okay in that 11 million a night spot. That's not, that's a very rare honor. Yeah. Um, but I was also nervous. What if I saw many artists on that show where they didn't turn, they just wanted to quit r you know, rating for the, for the opening weekend. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I was, I, I was very perplexed, but I said, you know what? I know my worth and what I can do that's gotta be heard from one of these judges. I, I think it could be. Okay. So I did the, I did the show, but I said, I, I'm not gonna go back saying I'm a I'm a country artist. I was a con and then sing a country song.


I think it would've been instantly comparable. Ah, I, I needed to go full throttle and do these big Adele songs and just totally have people forget a little bit about that. You know, the beginning. And it worked. So after the Voice, um, I did not go to a record labels and hunt for one. I went on the road to thank the people that voted. And I'm glad I did cuz that cool. You know, those audiences stick with you. Touring life is very important in today's day and age. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, for, for your livelihood, for fans, for just all around. And the one thing I was realizing after being singing those great big pop songs, which people loved, it was the country music that was totally who I am. Hmm. Coming back at it. And so that is what started this whole coming back to country, which opened the door for this one voice with the country band home free.


Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, it's just what's in my bones, the stories, the family aspect, the, you know, there is a rock and roll, you know, beer on a Thursday night kind of theme, two on one lane, but on the other lane you have the Rascal Flats and you have so many great, beautiful hits that are still being produced, you know, that are, that is kind of, you know, what country was, is and ki you know, will always be. And that's why I felt I just got a, I know I can ma make it in this genre. Again, even being in the inclusivity part of it, you know, being a certain type of person that might not be the norm for them. I do not, I advocate, but I advocate in a way that creates normality. Meaning I will do a show that that does benefit my life too, in many ways.


Like, there's a beautiful, beautiful, uh, show called The Love and Acceptance Show. Uh, they have a great thing called fanfare, C m A Music Fest Week. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that's where all artists come together. There's 300,000 people in Nashville and they sing and, you know, everybody sings. It's a lineup. And they, after that, and that's the big show from Thursday to Sunday every night you look forward to that big show. But in the meantime, during the day, offshoots, there are little different concerts going on. Fan club meetups, blah, blah, blah, blah. And there's a show called Love and Acceptance. Ty Herndon started it who came out the same year I did mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's a wonderful thing. And, and so many more artists are jumping on the bandwagon, which is fantastic. But like I always say, I say, you know, I am a artist who happens to be gay, not a gay artist.


Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I look forward to the day where we don't have to have a love and acceptance show. Like I say, I look for the day where we don't have to have a telephone to make money for kids in wheelchairs. That there's, there'll be a cure, there'll be equality. We, if the road's long, then we'll keep fighting. But I do it in a way where it's not so in your face. Maybe that would help the situation. I'm, I'm living my life, I will advocate for it, but the music is the music and there should be a separation. And that's how I've started to really live my life and not go, I'm been hurt. I, I we need to do, live your life, push through, stand your ground on what you believe in and what you need and deserve. But let the music speak. Right. And whoever listens, listens, meaning a record exec, a agent at this or that, I think they're getting much better.


And, uh, how I've formulated my career path with my L G B T <laugh> hat on, I've just pushed forth like Billy Gillman coming as a child star out of it, would, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative> and releasing the songs and showing the record execs that wanna listen to my material, if they believe in it, they they will. And there's been a few interesting turns and for the better. Yeah. Yeah. Which tells me that they're, they're, they are changing. Cuz maybe, maybe five years ago that wouldn't have even been in my head. Who knows? Maybe it would've been such a tough road. I don't know. But it is getting better, I think, which is very exciting. Not only for me, but for other people that feel trapped. Yeah.

Fritz Coleman (00:34:19):

Yeah. So you and Ty, I don't know if it was the same day, but in the same period of time came out,

Billy Gilman  (00:34:26):

It was the same day.

Fritz Coleman (00:34:27):

<laugh>. Wow. So totally coincidental. Was there any, um, soulful connection between you two because you had one another to sort of experience all that that is at the same time. Was there any, uh, simpatico between you two? And, and another question. Country is a very, I I, I mean not all of it, but, but country was born out of a sort of a macho frame of mind. So what's the lady's name that came out with the album? Shelly. Shelly Wright. Shelly Wright. So Shelly comes out, she's a gay female, was the

Billy Gilman  (00:35:05):


Fritz Coleman (00:35:05):

Shelly. What, what was the perception different when a gay male came out? Because, uh, country is so unspoken, Lee macho in its roots. What, what I'm trying to ask you in a roundabout way is do you think it, it is harder for gay men in the country universe than it is for gay females in the country universe? And maybe it doesn't matter, but I just thought about that, that you might get more pushback than she might have.

Billy Gilman  (00:35:34):

I don't know. Uh, I, I don't, I don't, don't, I don't let those questions in, um, I don't honor them. Meaning I, me meaning if I were to say that to a record executive or say that to someone, it, it automatically I have to be on the defense. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> I have to let in to be accepted. Like all the others. I don't even allow that in there. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. However, um, I, that is a great thought. And that's what brought me back to country because Ty is a, is a wonder for, to answer your first part, Ty and I were on the same record label funny enough. And we, I've known Ty since my very beginnings. And, um, he's a great human being. And, um, he seems to be very happy and fruitful and prosperous, which that's all you want. And, uh, I love the fact that he's created this fantastic love and acceptance show that Reba has now come on board on.


And Tim and Faith and Hunter Hayes and fantastic country artists. Um, but with the title of gay country artists, I'm sure there are people that there's a macho image, but there are, there have been tons of artists that are not gay, that are very tender. Kenny Rogers. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Faron Young, um, uh, rascal Flats, uh, what's, what's his name? The head singer of Lone Star. Very slick, very good looking. Pretty singer. I think there's lanes for them all. Cuz there always have been, I know the label of of an L G B T artist kind of hangs up on people in country music. I understand that. But there are so many L G B T, millions of l g Bt Qia, a fans of country music mm-hmm. <affirmative> millions. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I think it, I i I, I don't know how to completely answer that question. I was still pretty young when I came out. I don't know if that makes the macho 40 year old a little more dull if dull down if you will. Cause I wasn't a macho man. I never will be one gay or strait on five seven <laugh>. You know? Um, I don't, I don't know how to answer that question, but I don't No,

Fritz Coleman (00:37:50):

It's just the trucks and beer and guns and all those uh Right. Cliches that really don't represent country now, but sort of at its roots.

Louise Palanker (00:37:58):

Well they represent the certain outlaw element of country and they always will. And, and

Billy Gilman  (00:38:02):

They, and there's always been outlaws. Yeah. There's always been the Highway men and Wayland Jennings and Johnny Cash.

Louise Palanker (00:38:07):

But any of them could. But there's always been, any of them could've been gay. What do we know? I mean, there's a lot people kept to themselves for decades, but one, you know, one of the things Absolutely. But one of the things that I wanted to talk to you about Billy, cuz Fritz and I were talking about this before the show, is that like, maybe Nashville itself, the people that work there, maybe there, there're there's as many gay people as there are anywhere else, but they're the product that they create, they're selling to people who still aren't quite there yet. And so, right. They don't even have like a, a, a gay scene in Nashville because it's a tourist town. So they don't want people coming from Nebraska and seeing, you know, a big gay scene. So they're selling, they're selling something that they think is this thing, this wholesome thing.


We know whatever the word wholesome means anymore, but they're selling this product. Right. But I think they're starting to get that like, okay, people in Nebraska have gay kids too. Like, there's gay kids everywhere in every family. And so I, I feel like it's, it's fear-based. A lot of our intolerance is something's gonna change and I, it'll change forever. And that's scary. But the more and more we reach out to one another, we find out, oh, you know, cousin Sam is gay. Like, you know, okay, cool. And certainly people under 40 don't care. Right. And you're, and you're right in there and you, and it was really brave of you to come out when you did because it was like, you were kind of saying, I'm not gonna live any of my adult life as a inauthentically. Not a minute of it. Like Right. The second you hit adulthood, you were like, Hey, this guys, this is who I am. And there's a video that I wanted, uh, Thomas to play a little bit of. Cuz cuz maybe you, you've seen it. But it was a kid who grew up with your music and he, this was the video that he made after you made your video.

Owen Middleton (00:39:50):

Hi, I'm Owen Middleton. I don't have favorite artists, but he's my favorite artist. He always has been. I just loved Billy Gillman and always waited for him to come back. And then today, when I came home from my L G B T group, um, my mom told me something. And at first I didn't believe her, but I looked it up and sure enough it was true. It was Billy Gillman had released a video online saying that he was gay and he, it touched something in me. Um, and, uh, you know, cuz I, I still have all his albums. I don't keep albums really. I don't, I don't have any CDs from any other artist cuz I use iTunes now. I threw out all the CDs I had when I was a kid and I just have these ones left, the six that that he had. And, um, not that Billy Gilman's ever gonna see this, cuz let's be real, he's not. But I'm such a big fan of his, and not that it would mean much coming from me, but I'm proud of him. I'm proud that he's my favorite artist. Um, and I'm proud of him for being open and honest with the world.

Billy Gilman  (00:41:01):

Yeah. That it gets a lump in your throat. <laugh>, I'll tell you. Um, that for, that was the main reason why I decided to, I was always, I'm just gonna be me and I'm whatever, I'll let the punches roll. And, but when I came out, I saw how my, my father has a NASCAR flag flying in our na you know, our lawn, I mean very conservative people. And it was as if nothing ha not even a shock. <laugh>. They were mad that I held it for seven months from them, which I did. I I was so nervous. Oh, I couldn't, I held it for seven months. I had a girlfriend in their heads and her, I had a fake name. I mean, it was the whole bit. And finally I said, you know what? This is so stupid. I'm so old now. It's not like I'm 15 and I'm, you know what, you shouldn't hide yourself anyway if you feel comfortable enough to, to do what's right for you.


And they were mad that I didn't tell them. And when I felt that strength, I said to myself, I need to, I don't wanna come out in a big, huge way cuz it looks like it's on purpose. And I'm trying to sell a cd, which is not the truth. I just wanna be me. But people always think that, oh, what are they trying to sell? They're trying to get a headline. I opted to do it on YouTube. And I said, if it were to go viral, that's on its own, that's on, that's on people's ears listening and soaking it up. And that it, it did happen. And which I was happy about. The reason I came out the way I did was because I needed fans that might be gay people that don't know me, that will just come across the video who are gay mm-hmm. <affirmative>


And are fighting that may not have a family. I am your voice if you come to me. I we have to band together to change and make a better, more tolerant world or nothing at all. And there are so many u youth, the youth of our generation that are being thrown out of their homes because they're just now finding their true north and their happiness. And it disturbs me beyond belief. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And if anything, I needed to be a, even a, even a detriment to my own career if that were to happen. I wanted to be a voice for people to, to say, you know what, we've got someone now mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we've got someone in our, in our corner.

Fritz Coleman (00:43:18):

And I would bet you, because you're in a conservative industry that mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you have, uh, saved lives by giving children who are in those, uh, for lack of a better term, you know, extreme red state situations where they have very conservative parents who will never accept them. You have been a real lifeline, particularly to the younger kids who don't have a fully formed identity yet. And I I right. I I would say that you probably have many stories, and we won't ask them of you, but many stories of children where you have been the light at the end of the tunnel because of your honesty about yourself.

Billy Gilman  (00:44:00):

Yeah. I mean, I've had people come to autograph lines and just hysterically break down. Oh. Um, never thinking they'd be able to hug the person that helped them. Wow. And it's, it, I understand because it's what I, I'm a messenger before I'm a se before an artist, before I'm a per perform whatever. I'm a, I try to find messages and be a messenger to create paths, pathways for communication. Because if I can talk about a subject or be a subject that opens up someone else's thinking in a more positive way, I think that's how a, the world changes and that's how tolerance begins. And you totally hit it on the head. It's, it's, it's total fear and, and lack of understanding. You know, if it's not your bubble and your normal nine to five everyday thought white picket fence, 99% in psychology, it's automatically in a negative tone.


Mm. And it's just sitting down. I mean, there are cases there, but in every situation, there are cases where it goes extreme and everything, but the majority, you know, of, of, of life. We just want acceptance. And you know, like I said, I'll never forget telling my parents, I I, I'm, I'm still gonna be me. How, I mean, how pathetic is that? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But I hear that so often. That's the common thing. But I'm still me. A that shouldn't matter. But b it's just to be totally happy. And some people find it wrong. I I I will never understand. And that's why I, I, I ca that's basically why I came out mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, and to see messages like that, you know, it, it, it proves my point. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, and, and, and I'm very honored that he, he said those kind words because that was my intent. It wasn't to sell anything but hope for other people.

Louise Palanker (00:46:06):

<laugh>. And when you wa when you watch the whole video, he's sitting there holding all your CDs <laugh> that he grew up with. Oh God. <laugh>. And he's so cute. Aww. And, and so that's awesome. It

Billy Gilman  (00:46:15):

Just meant, I hope he's doing well. Cuz that was a few years ago. That

Louise Palanker (00:46:18):

Was a few years ago. I hope he's doing well. Well, we'd love to hear from you. Pocket fair. Yeah.

Billy Gilman  (00:46:22):


Fritz Coleman (00:46:22):

Yeah. I, if you're watching, I love the Choice,

Louise Palanker (00:46:26):

The voice. Oh,

Fritz Coleman (00:46:27):

The, uh, the fundraiser to raise money for Shoes for Kids. Oh, the choice around the world. That

Louise Palanker (00:46:32):

Song is awesome.

Billy Gilman  (00:46:34):

It's funny, the choice, the voice. I know.

Louise Palanker (00:46:35):

Yeah. No, the choice. I

Fritz Coleman (00:46:36):

I, but, but this is an awful statistic for anybody that tries to figure out why certain people decide on certain nonprofits to be involved with. This is an awful statistic. Half of the children in the world don't get adequate shoes. That's mind blowing. And you've got 18 of the biggest stars in country, uh, to record the choice with you to raise money for souls, for Souls. I mean, you've got Reba, you've got all these wonderful people who's on there. And, and how is that going? Is it still vital?

Billy Gilman  (00:47:10):

Um, I, I hear a lot of people still saying it's vital. Uh, you do a project and you let it go. It's a mission that's still near and dear to my heart. I've done a lot. I went to Haiti. I, I've gone and done pop-up concerts for years for Souls For Souls. We've done about a quarter of a million, um, shoot downloads. So we forfeited everything, everything, the publishing, the, the performance royalties, the writing royalties, the whatever, every piece of that record, that $9 99 or up, it's been a few, it's been a year or few years. So it might be they downgrade to 99 cents after they've, you know, done their thing. Um, I don't know what it is now, but whatever it is on whatever platform, that whole click goes to the pair of shoes. And coincidentally, that's how much it costs to provide someone a pair of shoes. That's how qu how, you know, what, what, what is the coincidence of that? Yeah, that's, that's, um,

Louise Palanker (00:48:07):

If you watch the video and you're gonna see the link in our show notes, if you, this is what Billy Gillman does for a living. He makes people cry. So if you <laugh>, if you watch this video, you will cry. Okay. And then if you watch the voice, you will cry. So always have tissues handy. So

Fritz Coleman (00:48:25):

Who's on there? You've got 18 of the biggest stars. It's like a who's who And country music. Yeah. Yeah. Reba and

Louise Palanker (00:48:29):

Who else? Kenny and, and Randy. So

Billy Gilman  (00:48:32):

Yeah. Who, who was, who was passed on was so honored that he, you know, it was one of the last group projects that Kenny Rogers ever did outside of his own 50th anniversary special. Um, what had happened was, I was down south, listen writing, and we just started to write this melody and we just started writing this song. And I'm thinking, this is not, this is a definitely a chal song. You know, you write different things. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, whatever mm-hmm. <affirmative>. It was not a single song for me. It wasn't just, it just didn't sound like that. It sounded very, it was an anthem and it was a movement and whatever. And I, we put it away and about a week or two later, I said to myself, what if we tried to do out of the blue, call me nuts. What if we tried to do a country, we are the World.


And now I didn't even have it in my head. I hadn't had a chartered record in some time. This was way before the voice. Um, who is gonna even remember who I am? Who, and then who, who knows? But I just had this little idea. So I went to the songwriters the next day and I said, I have this idea and I have a plan. I said, if I can get Keith Urban <laugh>, that's enough name where I think we could start a ball rolling. And they're like, what are you talking about <laugh>? I said, let's, let's do this. The choice. Like, oh, we are the world and country and bring it to an organization. They said, well, let's think of the people and get the song first, and then we'll think of an organization. So I emailed Keith, who has been such a fan of mine for so long, and he's such a brother and awesome guy.


And I said, I got this crazy idea, but it's simple. You can go into your own home studio and you record two lines for me. It'll take eight minutes. <laugh>. And within within five hours, I had his peace. So then I started with other, um, I went to Reba, I went to her personally. But all the others, we went through management. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and it, I, I wanted maybe Keith Reba and Leanne Rhymes. Those were my three. We can get three people. We can rotate them and inter, you know, weave them through the song and, you know, whatever fun ways we can stack 'em and all, you know, that's, it's fine. At the end of this thing, why notice as Judd legendary, her team was calling our team. We've heard about this song. Oh, why haven't, why haven't we even asked? Oh,

Louise Palanker (00:50:59):

Wow. So

Billy Gilman  (00:51:00):

It, it just became, it just blew up. And funny story with that was we, I said, I think it would be really neat to have one of the founding members of We Are The World on This. And that was Kenny Rogers. Yeah. So we hit up his team and they said, yeah, we'd, he'd love to do this for Billy and for, for, for whatever. Cause you got, we, we believe that you'll bring it to somewhere very worthwhile. He's gonna record it. They're making an a makeshift studio in his tour bus. Oh, God said he's on the road and he's gonna do this. He's focused on his shows and he's going, you know, you know, have time. And they're like, yeah, he's gonna do it today. I'm like, he's on the road today. They're like, yeah, he's Incus Connecticut, <laugh>, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. I went, well, I'm home in my home base, which is Rhode Island. Oh, do I, you happen to tell me is he in Foxwoods Resort Casino? And they went, as a matter of fact, he is. I said, can I go thank him because I'm eight minutes away from that casino.

Louise Palanker (00:51:55):

Oh my gosh.

Billy Gilman  (00:51:56):

He records his part in the afternoon. They invite me to the show. I go backstage and we take a picture together and I thank him face to face for recording his part that day. Oh, it was the neat, it was the neatest thing. So I was very grateful. We have, uh, we have Leanne Rimes, we have Reba and Jackson, Kenny Rogers, Keith iUrban, Kelly Pickler, Amy Grant, and her husband Vince Gill. Yeah. Um,

Louise Palanker (00:52:18):

And you got Ronnie Millsap.

Billy Gilman  (00:52:20):

Yeah. Ronnie Millsap. Lone Star. Yeah. Um, yeah. Just never in a million years what I, what I, what I think that ha would've happened. And um, when I saw the statistic, I saw it on tv, it was, I think it was a late night, not an infomercial, but something along those lines. I remember it being late at night and I saw the statistic about half a billion kids not having shoes and young adults. And I thought, what a simple thing. What a simple statement. It's nothing complex of this breakthrough drug that we need to cure some very mm-hmm. <affirmative> intricate disease. It's shoes.

Louise Palanker (00:52:55):

Shoes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. And, and they connect us to the earth. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Billy Gilman  (00:53:00):

And they connect us to the earth. And if you don't have them, you're, you're prone to so many, uh, illnesses. You cannot, you are not allowed to get a job. You are not allowed to step foot in a school system without a pair of shoes. That is your future. Wow. You know, and, and it was just, I, I couldn't believe it. So

Louise Palanker (00:53:17):

It's like, creates a path. I looked up

Billy Gilman  (00:53:18):

This, yeah. I, I looked up this Souls for souls and what do you know? They're in Nashville, Tennessee. They're home base.

Louise Palanker (00:53:24):


Billy Gilman  (00:53:25):

So I, so I said, that's, that's it. So we met with John Graven, uh, and they were just all about it. And we went to Haiti and shot the music video for it. And I got to see their headquarters down there

Louise Palanker (00:53:37):

And meet the kids,

Billy Gilman  (00:53:38):

Um, and meet the kids. Yeah. And it was, it was, it was a, it was a definitely a moment. It really was. It's a beautiful hit. Number two on the scene. Pchart. Yeah. It's, we're all excited about that. And so it, it, it did, it did what it had to do. And we'll always do what it has to do. And if by chance, you know, with one voice or whatever project you have going on, if that, you know, your success drives other successes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because it becomes seen again. And I don't think it will, it will ever be over for that, which is, which is a wonderful thing. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:54:07):

Well, we'll, we're gonna put in the show notes and then share it with everybody. So, so Billy, we, we've created something for you and it's, uh, this is something that I, you know, Dean and my producers like, you didn't know about this. Okay. So <laugh>, you know, people my age go online. I'm like, this is what people are doing on the internet. Mm-hmm. Uh, so I'm looking up one voice, you know, home free, blah, blah. I'm finding Billy, all these reaction videos of people watching your video and reacting to it. There's like,

Billy Gilman  (00:54:36):

I've heard of these, there's

Louise Palanker (00:54:37):

Rows of them. And this is just like, you, you watching grown men cry and sometimes they'll stop it and talk about it. So this is the new thing, cuz it used to be that you couldn't use someone else's music on a YouTube. They'd flag it and pull it down or mute it or whatever. But I guess now the record labels have learned that this is actually promotional. You know, you need to let people play this stuff and react to it and comment on it. I guess. So I

Billy Gilman  (00:54:59):

Got, I got flagged for using my own music. Figure that out.

Louise Palanker (00:55:03):

Same. Yeah. No, I get it. Like, once you put it up on TuneCore, where it's, it's like, it gets the algorithms going. Like, no, we recognize this. And it's, it's, it's not, you don't have the rights. Like, no, it's, it's my music. So, you know, try, try tell that to algorithm

Billy Gilman  (00:55:18):

<laugh>. Right. So

Louise Palanker (00:55:19):

True. They're like, talk to the, talk to the, I don't know what this would, what the equivalent of a hand would be in zeros and ones. But anyway, <laugh>. Um, so we made a little mashup of people reacting to you and we thought maybe you could react to people reacting to you <laugh>. Okay. Cuz we would like to create an infinity loop and we want you to be a part of it.

Billy Gilman  (00:55:40):

<laugh>. Wow. <laugh>.

Speaker 1 (00:55:42):

I'm gonna be straight up with you right now. You're probably gonna cry.

audio (00:55:48):

Some kids have some don't.

Speaker 2 (00:55:53):

Oh, sweet. Full echo going on. Some kids have and some kids don't. And some of us ring one. Oh my God, she still sounds good. And mama, to watch the news at night. Too much stuff that's making her cry.

Speaker 3 (00:56:28):

What does this say? Actually, I'm not good enough, enough for this life. Ah, home free dropping the usual dissonant called Strong harmonies Foundation build, sponsored by Tim Faust with the little subtle beats

audio (00:56:52):

Down. But one voice was her.

Speaker 4 (00:57:14):

So good man. He's, he still sounds so good. He looks the same. Like he looks exactly the same just with a beard. Like

Speaker 1 (00:57:23):

That's the greatest

audio (00:57:26):

Neighbor where you can arrive to school. The kind world where mom, dad still believe the, oh,

Speaker 4 (00:57:48):

No, no, no, no, no, no.

Speaker 1 (00:57:50):

This shit shouldn't happen. It shouldn't happen in our society. And, and

Speaker 4 (00:57:56):

It's so sad when people, oh man. When people get to that place where it's so dark and they're just done and they don't see any light, that's so sad. Oh no. This video's, oh man.

Speaker 1 (00:58:08):

Oh my gosh. Oh, hang on. I need a second to breathe. Ooh,

audio (00:58:27):

Earth, earth cheer you. That's

Speaker 2 (00:59:21):

Note from, from Tim right there.

Speaker 4 (00:59:23):

Oh my gosh. Okay. This happens to people

Speaker 1 (00:59:29):

As much as my kids hate it when I come and I kiss 'em on their forehead or I make 'em give me a hug, or I tell 'em that I love 'em every single day as many times as I can. Shit's important, man. It's important. And I, ah, I gotta have to bleep that <laugh>. Sorry.

Speaker 4 (00:59:44):

But I'm also like mesmerized at Austen's lead and then him and Billy the harmonizing there. Like that was just spot on. Perfect.

Speaker 2 (00:59:53):

One of the things I, I always appreciate a acapella is the, the attack that they have on the, uh, when they do a pages like that, the dude, the, like they, they, they hit it in such a way that it creates almost a percussive him.

Speaker 4 (01:00:08):

I like that. That sounds so good. The rumble

Speaker 2 (01:00:14):

Yesterday walking home, I saw a kid on,

audio (01:00:27):

He pulled

Speaker 2 (01:00:27):

A pistol. It's

Speaker 1 (01:00:53):

Okay. I was, I was literally about to say I was listening to the lyrics this time <laugh>, I was paying attention and he said he threw it into the river. At least. At least hopefully that's what he is doing here now. Right. Right. Hopefully

audio (01:01:05):

Prayers one.

Speaker 4 (01:01:42):

Wow man.

Speaker 3 (01:01:49):

It's so real.

Fritz Coleman (01:01:59):

That's how people are. Oh man. That's how people are responding. Billy. That was breathtaking. Breathtaking. The harm Billy, the harmonies in, in this song are beyond amazing. So pretty,

Billy Gilman  (01:02:09):

It's a right. You know, I've seen this video of 7,000 times. You do because the editing and you know, and the, and the great thing about the Home Free is, you know, this was their ask. They wanted to do it. To do it. And, uh, but they gave me full control. I said, I think we should do this here and that here, and the kitchen should do this. But the, like, I wanted to pay homage to the old video in 2000 when the kid had it wrapped in a white cloth mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And he was dark haired and he had a backpack and he threw it in the river on Newberry ro. And they did all those nuances. And I think that's what makes it, you know, that those, those chill bums. And I'm so, I'm so thrilled that people that probably wouldn't be touched to the core like that are, cuz that's how change happened. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Fritz Coleman (01:02:52):

No. Especially the first guy that obviously was savvy in music. He sounded like a mu a music producer himself. Yeah. I think he is. And so for him to be moved was even more spectacular.

Louise Palanker (01:03:02):

Yeah. And people with kids. Yeah.

Billy Gilman  (01:03:05):

It's just, I know that the guy saying he even though his son gets sick of him kissing him on the forehead, it's mm-hmm. <affirmative>. It's very powerful. And that's who's, it's a lot to take in, but it is what I do. And that's, that's, that's the core of what gets me up every day. I know, to be honest, if it was just to sing a song, what's that? But

Louise Palanker (01:03:25):

So what's, know what, I mean, what's interesting for an artist is to now see people reacting and, you know, immediately you dropped the video, I think within the last week Right. Billy? And, and all and already you're seeing

Billy Gilman  (01:03:36):

Three days, three or four days. Yes.

Louise Palanker (01:03:37):

Yeah. And these went up instantly. I know. I wa I saw him drop over the weekend and I was like, I, this is interesting. We're seeing in real time how people are responding to something that you've probably Yeah. Been spending the last year working on.

Billy Gilman  (01:03:51):

Yeah. It's, it's very gratifying. But for the right reasons, they're getting it. They're not saying, oh my, it's not only about, well look at the high note or how long he held the note. It's about going, okay, this, this, to me, with what that guy just said, that's the win. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> is when they bring it into themselves. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they put themselves in the situation. That is when you know you're in there. Hmm. When, when you start to feel your own uncomfortable uncomfortability mm-hmm. <affirmative> about something that's, when it's resonate, it's resonating with you or in a positive way. I, I hugged my child, you know, he brought it into himself. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. That's, that's the win for me. And, and that's why I chose to do One Voice. Number one, I needed to do it again. I felt it coming. I knew that the 20th anniversary of this song was coming up. <laugh>


Just so happened. We're in a pandemic, but people need to hear it again. You know, could I have gone with another song that's on the pipeline? Sure. But the time is so needed. People are reached, are desperate for, for Unity. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that song is, and I've had a couple of different ways of doing it, but they weren't sitting with me. And when this acapella thought came out, I thought, that's it. It it'll be so different from the begi from the initial song, but the same cuz it's the same song as the same melody, same message. It's so different that if you can't compare them, they're both, they're, they're different lives. And I was so honored and, and grateful of, I'm just amazed at how well Home Free came to the plate and did such a fantastic job and they're just such professionals and Got it. You know, they, they got it. And I think that's why it was pulled off so well, you know, everyone was in it for the right reason. And it's just so innately obvious when you watch it, you know, tell us a little, I'm proud

Louise Palanker (01:05:43):

Of it. Tell us a little about Home Free.

Billy Gilman  (01:05:46):

Home Free. So, funny enough, they were on the sing off. I was on The Voice, they were on the sing off a few years before I was on The Voice. Okay. And reached out to them. Funny enough, the lead singer who I'm singing it with, I was the first record he bought when he was a kid, <laugh>. So it's just so funny. And they're such great singers and have a huge following themselves and are just really, really great guys. And I would throw out an idea for this and they'd go, oh, we love that. That trump's our idea. Go with that. Just, just professionals and such a joy to work with and I hope we do it again. Absolutely.

Louise Palanker (01:06:22):

Well, it's just absolutely stunning. Thank you. And so moving and so powerful and, and, and in so many different ways in terms of messaging, in terms of music.

Billy Gilman  (01:06:32):

Absolutely. And

Louise Palanker (01:06:33):

We just Absolutely. We wanna thank you so much for, for being with us, Billy. You're gonna find everything you need to find about Billy and what he's up to on, on our show notes. So take a look, uh, with any questions that you may have about where to find some of this content. It was there anything else, Billy, that you wanted to share before we close?

Billy Gilman  (01:06:51):

Well, I didn't expect to have a reaction video. It's very deep. Like, I'm gonna be like, I'm gonna be exhausted after this <laugh>. Um, you know, you know, just if there's anything I can say is, if you honest to God, I I go to this one saying all the time, if you see something, say something. Mm-hmm.

Louise Palanker (01:07:09):


Billy Gilman  (01:07:10):

Meaning we're, we're in a climate where you cannot look to someone else to create the happiness or the unity or the inclusion. We are it, we are this the, the, the needle and threat. Um, I never forgot when I was in New York City for nine 11 and, you know, um, that's a dog. Cause I don't know if you could pick it up <laugh>. Yeah, I did. Uh, I knew, I knew what happened at one time. Hi. But so I need, I needed to get out of New York. We were, we were slated to be, that's a whole other story. So I was slated the Michael Jackson special happened. I could not say no to that amazing opportunity. But in the same clump of time, I was supposed to be in Los Angeles singing with the Phil Harmonic at the whole Hollywood Bowl, uh, celebrating movies. So we thought we can jump in a, in a car after my performance in New York City, go to Boston, fly out that Tuesday and make it to LA while we had after parties and interviews.


We never ended up going to Boston. And that was the flight that hit the world trade sector. Oh Lord Billy, because of my, because of Michael Jackson. That's just the, the easiest way. So we got a car, it took hours. I mean, the monstrosity and the chaos that was New York. I will, it was almost like, it's horrible to say, but you know how you like, as a kid, you put water in an an hole and they all just spread. They all just flee. Right. That's what, that's what the city was like. And by happenstance we found a car to get into, to head home, meaning Rhode Island to safety. And because no one knew what was going on, they had all the bridges locked. So like a three hour trip was a nine hour trip home. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, but the one thing I noticed in immediate, it didn't take time like it's taking now, but immediately people were opening their homes, feeding us, letting us use their bathrooms. Are you okay? Where nothing happened to us, but people went just like this. Mm-hmm.

Louise Palanker (01:09:10):


Billy Gilman  (01:09:11):

And we need to do that. And it's now that people have platforms and can be heard on such different levels, you're seeing a lot more of that hurt and that divi and that divided mentality because now there are outlets and to each individual, we need to change ourselves and help our neighbor. That's how this world is, will turn around completely. I love that. We just need to be, we need to be there. But it ha it comes from us. Right. And not from someone else.

Louise Palanker (01:09:44):

And one of the messages that, that I get from Maddy Steon is, you know, he build himself as a poet and a peacemaker. And I feel that each of us can be a peacemaker within our immediate community. You can be a peaceful absolutely person. You can, you can inspire peace. You can say peaceful things. You can say things that are calming and nurturing to the people in your, in your, in your circle. You know, we can each be a peacemaker. There's that moment where your temperature rises and you wanna snap at someone and you can, you can pull it back and say, how else could I frame this that would be more peaceful and get my message across. I think we can all do that.

Billy Gilman  (01:10:18):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's, that's, it's the, like, you know, you, you pull up the bootstraps and you get to work. I mean that's, that's like to me, where we are in in our day and age. And I know it's hard and it's difficult, but everything is so big. But in the nucleus of it, it's very simple and small. Mm-hmm.

Louise Palanker (01:10:38):

<affirmative>, I

Billy Gilman  (01:10:38):

Like that. It really is. I

Louise Palanker (01:10:39):

Love that. So well said. All right. Thank you so much, Billy. Here come our closing credits. Thank you guys. Thank you. We would love for you to join us online on Instagram and Twitter where we are at Media Path Pod and on Facebook where we are. Media Path Podcast. You can find full episodes with all kinds of bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. We would love to know what media you've been enjoying. You can contact us at our social media or email us at Media Path I wanna thank our guest, Billy Gillman. Our team includes Dina Friedman, Francesco Desmond, John Maddox, Sharon Beo, bill Felipe, Thomas Hubble, and you. Our theme music is by me and John Maddox. I am Louise Lanker here with Fritz Coleman and we will see you along the media path and Fritz has more to say.

Fritz Coleman (01:11:23):

And if you enjoyed this episode of Media Path, it would help us to be more discoverable by potential new listeners. If you leave us a quick review on Apple Podcasts, and if you're new here and this is your first time with us, please check out our back catalog. You may find binge-worthy stuff like with Diane Warren or Tony Dow or Bill Mumey and other great stars. Gary Puckett, the Cow Sills, Henry Winkler, Keith Morrison, something for every taste, every demographic, every corner of the world. We have it all there. Thank you for spending an hour with us and we would be overjoyed if you took a moment to share your thoughts with us or recommend us to a friend be safe.

audio (01:12:06):

That was so great.

Billy Gilman  (01:12:07):

It was wonderful. I hope so. Thank you guys so much for having me. I.

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