20 Questions With Billy Currington

He Talks Jewelry, Georgia and His Mother's Concern About Playgirl

Billy Currington can get behind the message of his new single, “Doin’ Somethin’ Right.” After all, he’s found himself much more in the spotlight since his colorful duet with Shania Twain last year, not to mention a string of memorable videos on his own, including “I Got a Feelin’.” Here, the soft-spoken, small-town native answers fan questions about signing copies of Playgirl, good meals from his grandma and the perks of performing with Keith Urban.

1. Where was your video for “Doin’ Somethin’ Right” filmed? Who was the lucky girl, and how was she chosen to be the lucky one?

The video was actually shot on a little island called Culebra, which is probably 30 minutes off Puerto Rico. The girl that’s in the video, her name is Blanca Soto, and she’s a former Miss Mexico. There was a company that screened many, many women, and they actually put it on DVD to give the folks at my label and management and myself. So, of course, me and the guys on the bus … one day we were out on the road, and we got the DVD through the mail. We were looking through it. Hands down, I think everybody at the label picked this girl here. Personality, plus very beautiful.

2. Were you concerned that people thought you were chasing pop music after making the “Party for Two” video with Shania?

No, I don’t think so at all. That was something that happened out of the blue. To me, it’s not a pop song. I think it’s still got the “country-ness” to it. Nobody really ever said that to me either. Nobody really ever asked that question.

3. Did you find that a lot more people recognized you after you made the video with Shania?

After I made the video with Shania, everything changed. Way more people coming to the shows. Walking in a grocery store, wherever, people were recognizing me, and it didn’t really happen that way until I did the video with her.

4. Where were you when you heard your first hit on the radio?

It was the weirdest thing. I’m from a little town called Rincon, Ga., which is right next to Savannah, where I was born. In between Jacksonville, Fla., and Savannah, I was coming back from Florida, I was halfway there, and I picked up my hometown radio station. I was on my way home to see my family, and it was the weirdest thing. Right when we picked up the station, my song came on — “Walk a Little Straighter.” And it was the first time I ever heard it on the radio. … I did turn it up really loud. What a great experience for an artist.

5. As the daughter of an alcoholic father, I know exactly how you felt at 12 years old writing the chorus to “Walk a Little Straighter.” Did you intend for it to be a song, or was it more of a journal entry that you later set to music?

As a kid, I used to write stuff all the time, never thinking of myself as a songwriter. It was only the chorus, too. It was something I had singing in my head. I did that with many different goofy songs, and that was one I thought was another goofy song. I threw it in a box somewhere and years later remembered the song. There was this melody and lyrics that stuck with me. I brought it out in a room one day and finished the song.

6. I heard you say in an interview that when you get to a good place in your career, you want to build your grandma a log cabin. Have you been able to fulfill that dream yet?

No, that hasn’t happened yet. I mean, like trying to get into the music business … sometimes the wheels turn really slow on the financial side. It’s taken us a little while, but we’re gonna get there. … A lot of people think that you’re making all this money. And some people are. They’re lucky, and they are. But right now we’re doing good, making a good living.

7. Before your singing career took off, what was the worst job you had?

Definitely my first job. When I was 18, I moved here [Nashville] and worked in a pawn shop. I did that for a couple years. The hardest I would say would be the concrete job I had, pouring concrete, driving all those concrete trucks and working in the warehouses and loading the trucks and driving the crane trucks and stuff like that.

8. If you could pick someone to go on tour with, who would it be and why?

If I could pick anybody right now that’s out there to be on tour with, I would say Keith Urban. I’ve been lucky and done some different shows with different artists but, by far, that’s been my favorite — opening up for Keith — because of his fans. Wow. All the chicks. (laughs) Just for miles, you could see women. We had the best time opening up for him.

9. Do crowds excite you, or make you nervous?

They excite me. Crowds excite me. It’s where you get your adrenaline, and it’s where your shows either are good or bad. If the crowd’s excited and fun and it’s a big crowd, you usually have a good show.

10. What do you do every night before you go onstage?

I hang out with the band and sit on the bus. Of course, I’m usually doing meet-and-greets and stuff like that, but I don’t have any kind of ritual or anything like that. I don’t go and get by myself and do crazy things. I take it easy and get ready for the show.

11. If you had your choice to do a duet of your own song, who would you want to be your duet partner? What kind of song would it be, upbeat or ballad?

There are not a lot of great up-tempo duets, I’d say, but those ballads, those love songs are definitely my favorite duets. I could name so many singers. One of my favorite singers in country music now would be LeAnn Rimes. Of course I’m a big fan of Norah Jones. I love her. I’d go with those two for now because tomorrow it might change.

12. If you could take one day to do anything you wanted to do, what would your schedule be?

Just to do anything I wanted to do? I’d wake up in the morning — my morning is like 12 o’clock — cook some breakfast and I don’t know. … Living in Tennessee, there are so many pretty places around here, like the lake, out in the country, all the creeks and the hills and stuff like that. Maybe get on my four-wheeler and go out there and ride all day or go ride horses. But if I was in Georgia, I’d be on a boat out on the ocean somewhere fishing. Definitely saltwater fishing.

13. If you could eat a good meal before you take a long road trip, what would you get?

A good meal? I’ll definitely go back to some of that good cooking I had from my grandma growing up. The fried chicken, the green beans, the mashed potatoes and the biscuits that she cooked.

14. What made you decide to do Playgirl? Do you think it impacts your career in any way? And, what did your mom think?

Playgirl was something that I didn’t actually decide to do. It was out of the blue. I get this call from someone at my label and says, “Hey, you know, Playgirl wants you to do this four-page article, and they want to put you on the cover of the magazine.” Of course, immediately I’m thinking, “That’s not really something I think I should do,” you know. Because, growing up, you think, “Playgirl. It’s negative.” But I ended up feeling like it was something OK to do, and it’s been really good for the career in a small way. I constantly feel like I sign more of those magazines than I do my own merchandise.

My mom had a good laugh about it. I remember her telling me, “I’m OK with this for sure, but your grandma is not gonna like this. But the funny thing is, she did. She thought it was the cutest thing. But, of course, the first question she asked me was, “You ain’t naked, are you?” “No, I’m not naked.” She said, “I don’t want to pick this thing up and see your weenie. I’ve seen enough of that when you was a baby.” (laughs)

15. Which CDs do you listen to most often?

Oh, man. Motown, Michael McDonald. I listen to that all the time. Eva Cassidy. I love her. I would say all that old stuff like the Jackson 5. I’ve been listening to that stuff here lately. And I have a Willie Nelson’s Greatest Hits I’ve been listening to, too.

16. You wear the same necklace. Is there any history to your jewelry?

No, there’s not. I get asked that a lot about this necklace that I wear. It’s like, “What’s the meaning to it?” Honestly, I saw it one day, and I was like, “OK, I want that.” I’ve had it for a few years now, and it’s the only thing I really wear around my neck. I got it from a magazine, I think. I saw it in a magazine and ordered it.

17. You always smell so wonderful. What is you favorite cologne?

I actually don’t wear cologne, it’s all natural. (laughs) I’m just kidding. I don’t know. It’s something I picked up one day, and I don’t even know the name of it, to be honest. It’s a secret. (laughs)

18. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

I’m not a morning person, so that’s my slowest time of the day. It takes me a while to get going. It’s usually about an hour after I fix me some oatmeal. I’ll eventually get in the shower and get ready. It takes a while.

19. Do you have any pets, and if so, what are their names?

No, I have no pets, unfortunately, because it’s tough. You can’t have a pet on the road. It wouldn’t be fair to the animal. If I could, it would be a yellow Lab, which I had before I went on the road. I ended up giving that dog away to someone, which was tough back then, because you get close to your pets. They’re like your family.

20. What’s the thing you miss most about small town life?

I don’t even feel like I miss it because everywhere I go on the road is a small town. We’re always playing in small towns. But if I had to say what I missed about living there, it would be the people themselves. I think the best people come from small towns.