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ROSS TURNER reports that 100 per cent of the proceeds from the 99 cent download of Nashville singer songwriter MEGAN LEE's new Christmas release, Love From Home, is a fund raiser for CreatiVets, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit providing disabled veterans with the tools to "use art therapy, music and creative writing to address the psychological and emotional needs" arising "from combat-related trauma."

CreatiVets Executive Director/Founder RICHARD CASPER,  a former United States Marine and veteran of the Iraq war, is also an artist, songwriter and guitarist.

Funds are urgently needed to continue CreatiVets' work of combating veterans' suicide (which I am told occurs at a rate exceeding 22 per day), post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) and other war-related injury our veterans often encounter when transitioning from war zones to home.



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The Stand Up With Hillary political action coalition has produced a country-music video in support of HILLARY CLINTON's prospective 2016 presidential campaign.




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TRISHA YEARWOOD, the subject of Country Music People's December, 2014 issue's cover story, indicates that performing mundane tasks keep her grounded: "We go shopping, we do our own laundry, for us it's odd to think otherwise, and I think it's probably true for most people in country music."

Indeed it is, for instance it's not unusual at all to find JAN HOWARD grocery shopping at the Belle Meade Kroger.


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If your favorite Grand Ole Opry star hasn't performed for some time on the stage of the longest running musical radio stage show in the history of mankind, consider that performance actors closed out the final (11 p.m.) portion of the December 6, 2014 show.  I'm the last one to criticize the benefit of ABC-TV
shooting NASHVILLE in Music City- the TV series has generated sporadic demand for my services as a paid extra, my most recent role as a tourist/pedestrian will be among the scenes in an episode that will air in late January, 2015- but I can't help but feel that the line between fantasy and reality continued to blur, while Grand Ole Opry members have to fight for available slots, when AUBREY PEEBLES, SAM PALLADIO and CHALEY ROSE continued the Opry's new tradition of giving over an entire segment of the musical show to actors (as opposed to just occasionally featuring those who can actually sing, as Peebles, Palladio and Rose do). 

      
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Were it not for instantaneous social media, TY HERNDON's Nashville fans might be as out of the loop as the folks who used to joke that they lived they so far out in the country that they didn't hear the Saturday night Grand Ole Opry
until Tuesday night. 


I think it's fair to say that Ty essentially outed himself publicly years ago, speaking, when indirectly questioned, as entertainment media was wont to do at that time, in the accepted code of the day.

For all of the timidity of the time, the message was always clear- except when Ty muddied it by suggesting he was rescued from his wayward public behavior- that which variously resulted in his being arrested and in the loss of his teeth- by curiously publicly embracing Christianity (of the variety that preaches homosexuality is a sin) and Christian music as country music all but abandoned him.

The intended message to his public - though Herndon never directly verbalized it- was that, for all of his internal struggles, Ty had prayed the gay away.

At a time when even some of the most zealous of those who once believed that was possible, indeed necessary, to pray the gay away now reject that belief, Herndon is making a calculated choice in an effort to revive his country-music career.

But Ty's story is incomplete, and there is not much to learn from it, without disclosure of the depth and scope of the singer's betrayal from the ex-wives who apparently continue to be satellite personalities in Herndon's reality show. 

Conversely, A fair assessment of BILLY GILMAN's career would be that going through puberty killed the momentum of what the public considered to be a little boy's overnight success.

Billy was a victim of that unfortunate timing. The musical landscape is littered with one-hit wonders, most of whom did not retain essential momentum for reasons other than Gilman's unfortunate fate, or more accurately, the timing of Billy's morphing from charmed boyhood to awkward adolescence in what, outside the world of music, is greeted as a natural progression.

After Gilman emerged from his management-imposed musical hiatus, his resultant growth spurt and deepened voice essentially transformed him, in the minds of a fickle public with a limited memory and attention span, from a known quantity, in effect, to a new, unproven artist with plenty of competition for limited slots.

Billy's absence made his fan base's hearts grow fonder but country-music's larger audience, by that time, was looking for the next big thing. I'll concede Gilman has a point- Billy is hoping for acceptance from an audience that traditionally has either embraced or had no problem with homophobia- but he should be careful that he doesn't play the gay card to the point where it is an excuse for an unpleasant outcome that is just as easily arrived at due to other factors, some of which would be equally beyond Billy's control.

Again, on balance, I don't think Gilman's sexuality has much to do with what Billy perceives as resistance to Music Row taking him seriously as an adult. 

The reality is Billy Gilman, while still a prodigy,  is no longer a child and, since resenting it will get him nowhere, Gilman would be best served by welcoming the opportunity to have to prove himself again.

I met Billy backstage at the height of his fame. As my colleagues and I clamored for what limited time he had available as his publicist led him around by the nose, Gilman saw none of the pecking order that sometimes comes into play in such situations. As a result, when he saw me being mistreated in an effort to accommodate a "more important" competitor, Billy respectfully reminded his (now former) publicist of who signed her check and spoke up in my defense and took charge of the situation.

That I remember Billy's kindness all these years later speaks to what I believe is the strength of Gilman's character.

Billy can hold to that strength as he deals with whatever blowback comes his way as a result of taking charge and outing himself on his own terms.

Perhaps some smart promoter can put together a package show, the Out and About Tour, with Billy, Ty Herndon and Chely Wright sharing the same stage now that the floodgates are opening with such force that, even among those who might desire it, it's past too late to turn back now.


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