Billy Gilman: ‘I Never Chose to Leave Country Music, They Left Me’
In a recent interview with People, Billy Gilman candidly talked about the mental health struggles that coincided with his shift from being a child star within the country music business to a gay man, rejected by the establishment.
“Everyone has their own problems in this world, but I think when I tell you it got dark, I think people know where I’m going when I say those words,” Gilman tells People. “It was scary. God put me on this Earth to be one thing and no one was allowing me to do it and it was crazy.”
Gilman's debut single, 2000's "One Voice," made the then-11-year-old the youngest person to ever score a Top 40 country hit. A double platinum album of the same title followed. Yet only six years later, the teenaged Gilman would release his final country album.
“I had a VP of one of the most major record labels sit down and say to me ‘Well, we don’t like our men sounding like Carrie Underwood,’” he adds. “So not only is that a gay thing, but it was also an effeminate thing.”
Gilman came out of the closet in 2014. Two years later, he competed on The Voice as a pop star hopeful, finishing second place to country singer Sundance Head.
“The sad thing is I never chose to leave country music, they left me,” Gilman adds.
Despite chasing his musical dream once again with pop-oriented new song "Soldier" and its music video, Gilman wouldn't wish his past struggles triggered by child stardom on anyone. “If I have children one day, I will beg them not to go into the music business, even if they can sing their face off, because I would never want them to see or face what I had to face,” he adds.
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