Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Billy Ray Cyrus has seen great highs in his career – from the superstar status he achieved after “Achy Breaky Heart” became a hit in 1992 to his current role as the on-screen and off-screen Dad to Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. But Billy Ray’s journey wasn’t always an easy one. The one thing that got him through the challenging times was his Christian faith.

Billy Ray’s grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher in the family’s hometown of Flatwoods, Kentucky while his Dad sang in a gospel quartet that performed throughout Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. During an interview on the series “Christopher Closeup,” Billy Ray fondly recalled that his earliest memories in life are “of traveling with my Dad’s gospel quartet, going up some hollow in Bear Creek, West Virginia, and seeing…my (grandfather) preach and my Dad’s quartet coming out and singing songs. And then they’d always call me to get up and sing.”

Life became more difficult after Billy Ray’s parents divorced when he was six years old. He was able to handle the break-up fairly well because of his grandfather’s influence that conveyed the love and power of God.

After his grandfather died when Billy Ray was twelve, the youngster became more troubled. He said, “I think I rebelled somewhat…I look back on some of the juvenile delinquent, hoodlum things I did as a teenager and think ‘I must have been a very angry young man.’ But you know, God moves in mysterious ways…I always prayed through it all that God would give me the wisdom and the vision to do the things on this earth that I was supposed to do, to be the man that He wanted me to be. I just feel so fortunate that God never gave up on me. He just kind of stayed beside me even when I didn’t know or appreciate the fact that He was there.”

Billy Ray decided to follow his passion for music and worked hard to establish himself as a singer in the country music field. But this too was no easy task. He said, “By 1990, I had reached a point where for ten years, I had traveled from Los Angeles back and forth to Nashville many, many times and been turned down by every record label. (I was) just going nowhere…I played five nights a week, four sets a night in this little club up in West Virginia and had done it for years and years. All my other buddies I’d grown up with had either passed away, were in prison, or were doctors and lawyers. So here’s me playing in this club, and I’m thinking ‘This is getting embarrassing.’ (Then) my inner voice told me to go to Flatwoods, Kentucky on a Sunday evening. I just got in my car and took off…to my (grandfather’s) church – hadn’t been there since I was probably twelve-years-old when he died…There was this little country preacher in there (saying), ‘God loves a desperate man.’ He was pounding the pulpit saying ‘When you’re desperate, you don’t get down on your knees and say now I lay me down to sleep…You cry and you plead and you say God, I’m desperate! I need your help!’

Billy Ray continued, “I found myself as a thirty-year-old man walking right back up the exact same aisle where I had spent 11 to 12 of the best years of my life…I got down on my knees and I prayed the most desperate prayer. I said ‘God, I’ve always felt and believed that you wanted to use my life, but I feel like I’m at the end. I don’t think I can keep going.’ The devil sent every messenger and every demon he could throw at me that night…But the next morning I got up and that voice from that desperate prayer was saying ‘Call Mercury Records, call Harold Shedd.’ So I call his secretary, go through this desperate story. She agrees I can see this guy for five minutes because I’m sure I sounded like I was ready to commit suicide…So I drive 325 miles to Nashville to see this guy…and I said (to him) ‘Harold, this is the best thing I got. This is a song I wrote about a Vietnam veteran called Some Gave All.’ I finished the song and the guy stands up and says ‘I’m gonna structure you a little deal.’ And I’m sitting there going ‘What did he say?’ ”

That song evolved into Billy Ray’s first album “Some Gave All” which launched him into a successful music career. And Billy Ray Cyrus gives all the credit to God for answering that desperate prayer in a Flatwoods, Kentucky church.

1 comment:

GeeWindu said...

Wow. He went through some really tough times. I never knew that story, thanks for sharing and God bless you!