At only 12 years old, country singer Billy Gilman’s career is moving faster than the bow on Charlie Daniels’ fiddle when he plays “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Less than four years after he made his public singing debut at the Swamp Yankee Days festival in Charleston, R.I., Gilman had signed with Sony Nashville, attained the No. 3 album in the nation with his first release, “One Voice,” sang and presented at the Academy of County Music Awards and snagged a tour with one of his singing idols, Reba McIntyre.
Not bad for a boy from the small nubbin of a state, Rhode Island. While growing up more than a thousand miles from the Grand Ole Opry, at which he recently played, Gilman absorbed his family’s love of country greats Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette and began singing to the neighbors and in class for show-and-tell.
Soon the hobby turned into a career and Gilman found himself traveling to record and showcase his powerful yet high-pitched voice, in a rock-star pair of leather pants with a talented backing band.
“I’m home less and less,” he says. “Whenever I go back, which is not a lot, it’s always exciting. We just got a new puppy and I haven’t even seen it yet. But, I get to do a lot that I wouldn’t be able to do if I wasn’t a singer.”
Still, even with the private, on-the-road tutor, a luxury tour bus, vast opportunities and supportive fans, Gilman seems to be turning a very realistic eye toward his new success.
“I want to keep singing and making albums and going out on stage and rockin’,” he says. “But, you never know. My managers and my mom always tell me, ‘Billy, it’s only temporary, so love it as much as you can because you never know when it’s going to end.’ “