Billy Gilman, ‘The Choice’ Features 18 Superstar Guests
In 2000, 11-year-old Billy Gilman became the youngest performer to score a hit on the country chart. His debut single, from the album of the same name, 'One Voice,' helped that disc earn double-platinum sales status. But even as his career was on the rise, the onset of puberty made singing more difficult. A few minor hits followed and Billy has continued to record, but at the same time has developed a passion for volunteerism. Now 23 years old, the Rhode Island native has penned a song called 'The Choice' and recruited a who's who of country talent to collaborate with him on the tune.
Keith Urban, Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes and Alan Jackson are just four of the 18 artists heard on 'The Choice,' the proceeds of which will be donated to Soles4Souls, which provides shoes for children and adults in need around the world. Fans can pre-order the song now and it will be available for download April 16.
Also heard on 'The Choice' are Kenny Rogers, Rodney Atkins, Montgomery Gentry, Amy Grant, Steve Holy, Wynonna, Richie McDonald, Vince Gill, Ronnie Milsap, Craig Morgan, Kellie Pickler, Diamond Rio, Randy Travis and Josh Turner.
"I couldn't imagine not having a pair of shoes, not just for the sake of being comfortable and looking cool, but I never thought until I got really involved that shoes enable you to get a job," Billy tells the Associated Press (quote via the Nashville Tennessean). "It really is more than giving a pair of shoes so the kid can look hip and cool. It's a way of life."
After writing with songwriters Dan Murph and Philip Douglas during sessions for his new album, Billy and his co-writers approached Soles4Souls and recorded a demo. Billy then began contacting his friends in the music business, reaching out via Twitter to LeAnn Rimes, who responded quickly, as did Reba, Keith and others involved.
"It's amazing to see the camaraderie," says the singer.
Billy notes that the goal is to place 500,000 pairs of shoes on people worldwide through sales of the song and donations. One dollar will buy a pair of new or gently used shoes. A 30-second sneak peek of the music video featuring Billy and footage from the organization's mission in Haiti will air in Regal Cinemas for two weeks starting next Friday (April 13).
Having gone through the struggle of not being able to perform for a while, after he experienced puberty, Billy explains, "Singing is what I am, so when it was gone, it was very hard. But it was a good time to go back home and rekindle friendships, be with my family and get my head straight, and figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. As my voice started to come back, I said, 'This is all I am.' Coming back to Nashville and writing, doing projects like this, it's what I am."
For more information on Soles4Souls, click here. 'The Choice' will be available for download on April 16.