Keith Urban, Reba McEntire & Kenny Rogers Join Soles4Souls Project
One of the more rich traditions in the history of country music is the trait of giving back. Billy Gilman knows this and appreciates it. Best known to audiences for songs like the powerful "One Voice" and the Brian Baker-co written "She's My Girl," the singer is continuing on with the art of giving back with a new record and video project entitled "The Choice."
The single, which is available now, benefits Soles4Souls. In addition to Gilman, the song features 18 of country music's top artists, including Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Josh Turner, and Keith Urban.
Gilman filmed part of the video, which will premiere on CMT April 16, in Haiti.
The singer admits to being amazed at how the project took flight. "One day, we were writing for my own project, which is due out later this year. Sometimes, when you're writing, you don't come up with anything good where it doesn't hit you. So, my co-writers, Philip Douglas and Dan Murph, told me about an idea they had called "The Choice." It could possibly be a charity song. It's totally unrelated to your own stuff, but it could be a really cool project. We wrote the song, and within a week, we had the first draft already done band-wise. I contacted my friend LeAnn Rimes, and at first, I was only wanting two or three artists. I would have been grateful with just three artists. Word got around, and I kept asking, and it just snowballed. We had Reba, then Keith Urban said 'Tell me when.' It's really great to see the support, and how fast they all jumped on it."
When asked what led him to want to become involved with Soles4Souls -- an organization that collects new shoes to give relief to the victims of abject suffering and collects used shoes to support micro-enterprise efforts to eradicate poverty, he said he was moved by the work they do around the world.
"I am very lucky to do what I do for a living, and get to come back at it. I've always tried to give back. That's who I am, and who I'm about. I was looking on YouTube during this writing session. We had already heard about Soles4Souls and I saw this four minute clip of what they are all about, it struck a chord with me. I thought 'I have plenty of shoes. But, it's not about being comfortable in a pair of shoes. You need shoes to go to school -- but also to get into a school. You need a pair of shoes to get a job, or to walk in a store. Since 2004, they have donated seventeen million shoes. It's an epidemic, and it's not just in countries worldwide, but also in our backyard. I went to them about a week after the song was written -- at that point, a couple of artists had said yes. But, Soles4Souls was on it. They were honored that we brought it to them. I thought it just made a great home for the song.
In addition to the afore-mentioned artists, "The Choice" also features one of music's all-time biggest stars who was a part of the legendary "We Are The World," Kenny Rogers.
"I said 'Who can we get that is iconic, can still sell out arenas, and his voice is instantly recognizable. I thought how cool it would be because this song is an event that has never happened in country music history -- where artists sing one line of a song. I thought 'What if we had one of the guys who did 'We Are The World.' It's cool how it came full circle like that."
Gilman is also excited about some of the companies that have come on board to help with the project. "It's been really well received by some great sponsors including Gander Mountain and Regal, who will be airing a 30-second clip promoting the single at 6,675 of their screens. So many great video markets have agreed to promote it. It just makes me feel good that country music is such a family, and when they come on board with something, they do so with full force."