Billy Gilman was only 11 years old when he released his debut single, but he was mature beyond his years. Because the song, “One Voice,” is one of those rare-but-timeless tunes that tackles a social issue in a way that only country music can.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the song that put a much-needed spotlight on teenage suicide. “I would never have imagined that America, let alone in the world, we would be seeing so many suicides,” Gilman said in a press release about the pandemic’s effect on mental health. “If we could be a little nicer to one another and learn that we are all made differently, but we all deserve kindness, love, and respect it would make the world a better place.” It sounds like Gilman has matured right along with that first country song.
“One Voice” — penned by David Malloy and Don Cook — was nominated for two Grammys in 2001: Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song. And he won Favorite Country New Artist during the 2001 American Music Awards. Later that year, Gilman released another social-issue song called “Oklahoma,” written by D. Vincent Williams and John Allen, about a teenage boy in foster care finally reuniting with the father he never knew.
Now it’s 20 years later, and Gilman is poised for a comeback (after a 2016 stint on The Voice) and is in Nashville making new music. “I had so much fun performing back in Nashville and catching up with old friends. It’s so hard to believe it’s been twenty years since my first release,” he said. “I am really excited about this new music and to offer up this opportunity for fans to watch a concert during these crazy times we are living in.”
That Coming Home To Country concert was a one-hour special livestream from Nashville, and you can watch that here.