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Billy Gilman
Billy Gilman
Billy Gilman
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Billy Gilman
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Billy Gilman Flash Bio
(Thanks to Ivan Kotlianik)

Billy Gilman Bio Info

A good sense of humor, a strong sense of one's identity and great survival instincts are among the hallmarks of maturity. Those are a few of the qualities that saw Billy Gilman through the transitional years; from child star to what seemed like a lifetime out of the spotlight, and back into the studio to record not just the next chapter, but what might be a whole new book for the 18 year old artist. Gilman released "Billy Gilman" on September 5, 2006 on the Image Entertainment imprint, and for the young singer, the 12-song disc has been a long time coming.

"When this new CD comes out, I will be 18," says Gilman, who celebrated that landmark birthday on May 24. "Because I have been out of the spotlight since I was 13 or 14, this new record may take some people by surprise. I know for many, I am sort of flash frozen in time in their minds - a little 11 year old kid. But a lot went on in my world in those seven years, lots of changes, adjusting and waiting. At the time, the waiting seemed almost like it would never end. But now, looking back, I see that time off was one of the best things that could have happened to me. It taught me patience and it taught me to value this business even more."

Gilman was forced to take that time off because of a very natural development. His voice began changing. And because he was in serious danger of permanently damaging his vocal chords if he maintained the current pace, he reluctantly followed doctor's orders and allowed Mother Nature to take his course. That he had to do so at the height of success was sheer frustration.

He burst on the national scene in 2000 with the big voice, commanding stage presence and behind the scenes poise of a seasoned performer. He soon had a hit record with the compelling ballad "One Voice," and at 11-years-old became the youngest person to place a single on Billboard magazine's country single chart, edging out previous title-holder Brenda Lee. In four weeks the album was certified gold and Gilman became the youngest country artist to score a gold album. Within three months, Gilman became a music industry phenomenon with a platinum-selling debut album, making him the youngest solo artist in ANY genre of music to achieve a platinum-selling album.

"I really had no idea what the music industry was about," he says of being thrust into the spotlight after landing a deal with Sony Nashville. "When the record went to No. 1, I was just flabbergasted. I really was because I didn't expect a little kid to be taken that seriously. It was great how they welcomed me. I was just stunned."

Gilman went on to record four albums for Sony Nashville. In the fall of 2000, he released "Classic Christmas" and it joined "One Voice" in the top ten of the country albums chart. He was voted the American Music Awards' favorite new country artist, becoming the youngest contender to ever win that prize. In May 2001, Sony issued Gilman's third project, "Dare to Dream," which is also certified gold.

Though a youngster, Gilman showed admirable creative courage in releasing "Music Through Heartsongs," a concept album of songs based on the work of young poet Mattie Stepanek, who died in 2004 after a lengthy battle with muscular dystrophy.

And now, after a four-year break, Gilman is beginning to navigate the tricky waters leading from teen stardom to mature artist - the same territory previously visited by numerous other child stars with varying degrees of success.

Gilman pokes fun at that journey and the glare of the celebrity spotlight on "Billy the Kid," the opening cut of his new album. "There are some people out there that are saying, 'Oh Billy Gilman's done!' Well, I'm not," he says with an amused and rather defiant laugh. "It's like Toby Keith -- they all thought he was done and he came out with 'How Do You Like Me Now?' You know what I mean? This song definitely speaks volumes, especially for me because it's more than just a song; it is my life. It says 'The price of fame is on my head/Can't shoot down old Billy The Kid.' "

Gilman entered the studio this time around a more self-assured young vocalist. "The last record I was still coming out of the voice change," says Gilman of 2005's "Everything and More," his debut set on Image. "On this one, I felt comfortable. I could do so much more with my voice. I could belt really hard and bring it down really soft, where I couldn't do that before. I find my voice bigger than it was. My other voice was very high. Now my voice sounds very big and belty. So it's definitely different, but it has a lot of the same qualities that it had, only richer."

Gilman's newly matured voice has drawn comparisons to Vince Gill because of his clarity of tone and pure quality. It's a voice that could find success in any genre of music, but Gilman says his heart has always been in country. "It speaks about truth," he says of his love for country music.

"This is the first record that there are no outright pop songs on it. There have been pop songs on every record I've done. This is the first record that I think really says that I'm a country artist. There are fiddles and steel guitar. I love country music. This is going back to my roots because I've missed it. Country music is my first love. Country music is what I want to do and hopefully this record shows that. Hopefully it moves you and touches you in some way."

Gilman says his last album featured songs that were more inspirational in nature because they conveyed messages he wanted to sing and because, frankly, the lyrics were age appropriate. No one wants to hear a young teen singing lyrics that deal with mature subject matter. On his new set, however, Gilman says he's finally able to tackle different topics. "With this record, I finally said, 'Okay, now we get to come out of that little box.' I can sing about relationships, not necessarily love, but relationships because 18-year-olds have relationships."

The new album was produced by Sandy Linzer, who wrote most of the record especially for Gilman. "We spent hours and hours talking about the songs, and the sort of subjects I wanted to sing about, as well as the more country musical direction," says Gilman. Among the tunes, Linzer penned for Gilman is the classic-sounding "Let Me Remind You Again."

"He wrote a killer in 'Let Me Remind You Again,' " says Gilman. "He played it to me over the phone and it was all crackly because he was on his cell phone, but even so I had goose bumps because the song is just everything I hoped for. It sounds like Patsy Cline or Ray Price, songs they would perform in a heartbeat. So it was great to see the versatility in his writing."

Gilman fulfills a longtime dream on this record as Pam Tillis lends her talents as a special guest on the song "Almost Over (Getting Over You)." Gilman has been a huge Tillis fan for years. His first performance was at five years old when he sang the Tillis hit "Don't Tell Me What to Do" at a school talent show. "Pam Tillis is why I started singing," he says. "I saw her on a television special for Sea World and my mother thought, 'Being a kid, he'll love the whales and dolphins.' I didn't like the dolphins and whales at all. I loved Pam Tillis!"

Gilman began playing fairs, festivals and other events near his Rhode Island home. When he was only eight years old, someone passed a demo along to Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson, who shared Gilman's music with Martina McBride. "Within a month, I was on stage with her, singing at our local fair when she came to town," recalls Gilman. "I was singing 'Broken Wing' with her band, the first time I'd ever performed with a live band. It was just so unbelievable. Then I went down to Ray's studio in Texas and recorded two songs. He sent them to Nashville and in December of the following year I had my contract through Sony Records."

What followed has been an incredible ride and during that journey Billy Gilman has matured from a talented, precocious child to a gifted vocalist who knows who he is and what kind of music he wants to make. "I was used to other people making decisions for me," he says of his childhood career. "Now 10 years later, I look at the pros and cons of different situations. What's the positive aspect? What are the negatives? I take more things into consideration. I think it's growing up. I don't take things for granted as much either. I know how fragile your career is. I know how fragile your vocal chords are. I grew up and respect everything more."

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TIMELINE

• Youngest performer in history to chart - May 22, 2000 - Billy becomes the youngest soloist ever to appear on Billboard's Country charts, breaking Brenda Lee's record (1957), with his debut single 'One Voice.'
• First #1 Single - In the same week, Billy's debut album is released, his first single soars to #1 on the Billboard Country Singles Sales Chart on June 19, 2000 and stays there for 5 weeks, making more Chart history.
• Released on June 20, Billy's first album takes a giant leap onto the Billboard Country Album Chart at #4, making Billy the youngest ever country soloist to break the Top 5, and only the third artist in history to have their first album debut that high on the charts - June 28, 2000.
• Next Big Thing, 'One Voice' goes Gold - July 19, 2000 - In just 4 weeks, 'One Voice' is certified Gold, and Billy becomes the youngest country artist ever to have a gold album.
• Billy is Platinum - September 12, 2000 - Twelve weeks to the day of its release, Billy's 'One Voice' album receives Platinum certification from the RIAA, signifying One Million albums shipped. Billy is the youngest solo artist EVER, in any type of music, to be certified Platinum.
• November 13, 2000 - With both Billy's 'One Voice' and 'Classic Christmas' albums in Billboard's Top 10, and a combined sales of about 65,000 per week, Billy is the biggest selling artist in Country music at the end of November and beginning of December.
• The Daily Variety names Billy as one of the Top 10 Youths in Entertainment.
• Billy's second Gold album for 'One Voice' - December 4, 2000.
• Billy's 'Classic Christmas' Album is certified Gold.
• Grammy Nomination - January 3, 2001 - Youngest solo artist ever to receive a Grammy nomination.
• Blockbuster Award Nomination - January 28, 2001.
• Billy is been nominated for 'Favorite Male - New Artist' - Academy of Country Music Awards Nominations - February 27, 2001 - Billy is the youngest artist to be nominated in ACMA history.
• Billy is nominated for Top New Male Vocalist, Album of the Year ('One Voice') and Song of the Year ('One Voice').
• TNN Country Weekly Awards Nominations - March 19, 2001 - Billy is nominated for The Fast Track Award and The Discovery Award.
• 'One Voice' goes Gold in Canada - June 9, 2001.
• Billy wins the AMA for 'Favorite New Country Artist' becoming the youngest to ever win that award. Billy also performed 'One Voice' and received a standing ovation.
• May 8, 2001, Billy's third CD 'Dare to Dream' is released and goes Gold.
• June 13, 2001 - TNN & CMT Country Weekly Discovery Award Winner - along with an amazing performance and giving out an award during the TNN & CMT Country Weekly Music Awards, Billy wins the Discovery Award.
• April 15, 2003 - Billy releases his fourth CD called 'Music through Heartsongs' based on the Poems of Mattie Stepanek, a 13-year old boy with MD. Billy becomes an MDA spokeperson and co-hosts The Jerry Lewis Telethon.
• May 3, 2005 - Billy releases his fifth CD, 'Everything and More.'
• December, 2005 - Billy wins New Music Weekly's 'Country Single of the Year 2005'
• September 5, 2006 - Billy releases his sixth CD, 'Billy Gilman.'

FAQ

• Name: William Wendell Gilman III
• Height: Approx. 5'7"
• Eye Color: Blue
• Hair Color: Blond
• Birthdate: May 24, 1988
• Birthplace: Westerly, Rhode Island
• Hometown: Hope Valley/Richmond, RI
• Pets: Zoe (Cat), Wizzer (Dog)
• Favorite Color: Blue
• Favorite Country Songs: 'If You've Got Leavin' on Your Mind'
by Loretta Lynn, 'Cryin' by Roy Orbison
• Favorite Female Singers: Pam Tillis,
Martina McBride, Avril Lavigne
• Favorite Male Singers: Jon Bon Jovi,
Marc Anthony, Tim McGraw, Bread
• Favorite Magazines: People and Billboard
• Favorite School Subject: Language Arts
• Favorite Foods: K.F.C, pasta with anything except clams (yuck)
• Favorite Movies: 'Grumpier Old Men,'
'The Perfect Storm,' 'Just Married'
• Favorite Actors: Tom Hanks, Walter Matthau
• Favorite Actresses: Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts
• Favorite Books: 'Falling Up' by Shel Silverstein,
'The Hobbit' by J.R.R. Tolkien
• Favorite Sports Teams: New York Mets, Nashville Predators
• Favorite Sports to Play: Baseball, Basketball
• What he does with his free time: Sing, sing, sing,
go to the movies, rollerblade

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