The music business has not always been kind to Ty Herndon.
He’d made his 1995 debut in a massive way, with an immediate hit right out of the gate, “What Mattered Most.” The hits kept coming, with eight top 20 songs in just four years. Herndon kept on making music — really, really solid songs — but country radio didn’t give him much love.
That’s how the story ended for so many artists who rose to fame in the late 90s. But fortunately for diehard Herndon fans, Carrie Underwood had a message for Herndon right when he needed it most: after he’d left Nashville and was thinking about a pretty drastic career pivot.
“After I moved back home from Los Angeles to Nashville, I had not made a record for almost a decade,” Herndon recalled. “I was having a tough time deciding whether or not I wanted to stay in a business that I loved so much.
“I was in my truck on my way to a real estate class when I heard Carrie Underwood sing a song that changed the game for me.”
That song that came on the radio was Underwood’s 2007 hit “So Small.”
“The message was incredibly strong and it was something I needed to hear. I had quite a few tears that morning in my truck,” he admitted. “I let go of my fear and decided to stay in the music business. And it also gave me the courage to start the conversation about my own coming out process.” (Which he did in 2014.)
UPDATE: Now that Underwood has had a chance to listen to Herndon’s cover of “So Small,” she was moved to write to him via Twitter to let him know how much his story meant to her.
When artists write & sing songs, we hope people will be able to relate to them…to find themselves in the lyrics. When another ARTIST relates so much that they want to sing it, too, it makes the song mean even more! I ❤️ this, @TyHerndoncom !!! https://t.co/uT8JYPN0qj
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) August 25, 2019
Underwood has described the song as one about how people invest so much of their time and energy into things that aren’t really important, and that you may not realize that until it’s too late.
So Herndon covered the Underwood ballad, putting his own late 90s spin on it, and it is undeniable proof that it’s impossible to outgrow a powerful set of pipes.
The song will be on Herndon’s Got It Covered album full of ten re-imagined hits, due out on Friday (Aug. 23).
(Meanwhile, Herndon has pressed pause on any kind of career pivot.)