Brad Paisley: From Prayers to “Sunshine”

The Nursing Home Gig That Changed Everything

First there were the nightly prayers.

“Every night when I put Brad to bed, I would say, ‘Let’s pray, please make this world a better place in any way you can,'” Brad Paisley’s mother Sandy told the Tennessean.

Then there were the actions.

Sandy and Doug Paisley made sure their son gave plenty of his time and talent to church picnics, nursing homes and hospitals while he was growing up in Glen Dale, West Virginia.

“I don’t know what it was about Brad, but I felt he had a purpose,” Paisley ’s mother said. “There was a reason he was given this talent.”

And then there was the moment that his higher purpose all became clear for Brad Paisley. It happened when he was singing “You Are My Sunshine” with an elderly patient who was almost completely non verbal. “She sings with me, every word — ‘You make me happy when skies are gray’ — sort of on pitch. And that was it.”

“Music became something that felt like it had the power to heal people. It had the power to brighten someone’s day,” he said. “I’m emotionally touched. I’m baffled, but I’m emotionally touched. I’m not crying, but my mother is reduced to a puddle.

“You want to find other opportunities to make someone’s day. That was the moment that made me realize what I do can be very good for people if I use it the right way.”

Music is the closest thing, Paisley added, that we have to real magic.

And now that he’s grown and has a family of his own, it’s his turn to encourage his sons how to do good things with the gifts they have. Every night, when he’s home to put his boys Huck (11) and Jasper (9) to bed, he asks them, “Did you make the world a better place today?”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.