|"A boy sings ... a beautiful thing."|
THE 4 foot 7 figure walks out on stage, his finger to his lips to signal the audience to not say anything. He walks across the stage, over to his mentor who is singing the opening lines to "Roly Poly" and tugs gently on his sleeve. His mentor looks down and says "Why it's Billy." Billy turns to the audience and the voice of Country music is changed forever.
When Billy was three his mother taped a Sea World special on TV thinking that Billy would like the whales and dolphins. Instead Billy fell in love with Pam Tillis singing her hit "Cleopatra, Queen of Denial" and started walking around the house singing it. At the age of five Billy's love of singing had grown, and his parents gave him a karaoke machine. Billy's love of singing wasn't just restricted to his home though, for show'n'tell at school while the other kids would bring in toys and comic books, Billy would bring in a tape and sing for his classmates.
At age eight it had become clear to his family that not only did Billy love to sing, but that he was extremely talented, so his Mother and Grandmother took him to see a woman, Angela Bacari, who would become his vocal coach and eventually his co-manager. Through a friend of Angela's a tape of Billy made it's way into the hands of Ray Benson of the country group Asleep at the Wheel. Ray was so impressed with Billy's ability that he wanted to meet him (Billy was 9 at this time) and shortly after, invited Billy to his studio in Austin, Texas to record a demo CD.
When Ray played the CD for artist manager Scott Siman, Scott wanted to see him perform live so Ray invited Billy to sing with Asleep at the Wheel at the famous Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville. At the end of that performance Scott was determined to find Billy a record deal. That commitment lead to 11-year-old Billy opening for Alabama to a skeptical audience, that included Scott and Sony Nashville executive Blake Chancey, in his home state of Rhode Island. After a standing ovation and two encores Blake offered Billy a recording contract.
In the spring of 2000, while Billy's producers where finishing up with his album, two opportunities came Billy's way. The first was to go on the short George Strait Country Music Festival Tour as a guest of Asleep at the Wheel. The second was to sing "Roly Poly" with Asleep at the Wheel at the Academy of Country Music Awards, a show stopping performance that brought the entire auditorium to an instantaneous standing ovation.
A month later, and now at the ripe old age of 12, Billy would make his "Fan Fair" (an annual event held in Nashville) debut as part of the Sony Music show. Billy was only slated one song, but when that one song is his debut single "One Voice," that was all it took to again bring the show to a stop when the 15,000 music fans in attendance came to their feet for a long and boisterous ovation.
In the few short months that followed Billy's ACMA performance he continued to make his presence know by breaking (and setting) records. First breaking the 40-year-old record as the youngest Country soloist ever to be on the Billboard charts. Then becoming the youngest to have an album break into the top 5, while also becoming only the third country artist ever to have their first album debut on the charts at such levels.
In August Billy performed at the annual Fall River Celebrates America Festival, at which he has performed in past years. This year's Festival brought 10,000 fans chanting "Billy... Billy..." while waiting for him to take the stage to perform songs off his album as well as other country music favorites.
Billy continues to make his presence known and set new records. Over the 2000 Labor Day weekend, while Billy was in the UK recording a duet with Charlotte Church, his video took the number one spot on CMT's Top 100 Requests.
On September 12, 2000, exactly 12 weeks after the album's release, Billy became the youngest soloist of any genre in history to be awarded a Platinum album by the RIAA, signifying shipment of one million albums.
On October 4, 2000 Billy once again made his presence know to his peers in the Country music industry at the 34th Country Music Association Awards. Although Billy came on the scene to late to be nominated this year, he was asked to sing a portion of his number one selling debut "One Voice." Billy hit the stage and sang the drastically abbreviated version perfectly. At the end of it he stood there with a happy, shocked look on his face as the industry's toughest critics, the artists themselves, rose to their feet and gave Billy a standing ovation, for the second time in five short months.At the Billboard Music Video Awards on November 10, 2000, Billy's dramatic "One Voice" video was the big winner of the evening walking away with all 4 awards it was nominated for. (Best New Artist nominations in Country, Jazz/Adult Contemporary, and Contemporary Christian fields and Best Video in the Contemporary Christian)
November also brought another accomplishment. The taping of his very first TV special, "Billy Gilman's Classic Christmas," which aired on TNN at the beginning of December.
After taking a short break for Christmas Billy started off 2001 right where he left off 2000. Rewriting the history books. On January 3, 2001 Billy was in New York City to help announce the 2001 Grammy Award Nominees when he heard his name among them for "Best Male Country Vocal Performance" for his smash hit song "One Voice", which is also up for "Best Country Song." With his nomination Billy becomes the youngest artist to ever be nominated for a Grammy Award.Less then a week after the Grammy Nomination Billy was in Los Angels for the American Music Awards. First thing up for Billy that evening was a flawless performance of "One Voice" which garnered him a rousing standing ovation from all in attendance. (and was one of only two for performances during the three hour show). The next thing up for Billy that night was WINNING the AMA for "Favorite New Country Artist".
All Billy ever wanted to do was to be a singer and "sing his heart out." Having been a guest on a number of talk shows, and with articles in magazines such as "People," and the cover of Country Weekly Magazine (January 23, 2001), it's clear that it's a dream that has become a reality while 2001 will be bigger and better.
Billy Gilman Websites:
Billy Gilman's CD's
Billy will start recording his third album at the end of February 2001.
All of these CD's are available
Copyright © 2002 boychoirs.org
This page was last modified on 01 September 2004