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Billy Gilman Biography

Last updated: 03/01/2013 01:23:28 PM

Quick Facts
Full Name: William Wendell Gilman
Profession: Singer
Date of Birth: May 24 1988
Family: Mom(Fran), Dad(Bill) & Brother(Colin)

Main Biography

Billy Gilman first earned a name for himself singing on the Asleep at the Wheel segment of the 2000 George Strait tour. But he burst onto the national music scene a few weeks later with his show-stopping performance at the 2000 Academy of Country Music Awards show, where he earned a standing ovation. "It was a life-altering experience," the then 11-year-old told music legend Dick Clark backstage.

When his debut single "One Voice" entered the Billboard chart, the tiny powerhouse edged out Brenda Lee to become the youngest person ever to have a song on the magazine's Country Singles Chart.

A combination of intimidating talent and genuine boyish charm, Gilman is a show-business natural. "At school, for show-and-tell," he recalls, "the other kids would bring in comic book stuff or science projects. I'd always sing."

Born William Wendell Gilman on May 24, 1988, in Westerly, R.I., he was raised outside Providence in the tree-lined neighborhoods of Hope Valley. And he grew up listening to pure country. "Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Eddy Arnold, all the classics," he says, alluding to the records his grandparents played. It was the emotional singing style of country's classic performers, he says, that hooked him.

His mother and father, while delighted with their son's gift and supportive of his efforts from the start, were not stage-struck parents hovering in the wings and egging him on. Through a series of introductions, Ray Benson, of the legendary Asleep at the Wheel, became one of Gilman's guiding lights. Benson recorded a demo with Gilman in Austin, Texas, and then introduced him to the Nashville scene. Benson also featured him in some of his shows.

As testimony to Gilman’s appeal, One Voice was certified platinum (for selling a million copies) in September 2000, less than three months after its release. Gilman released a second album, Classic Christmas, in October 2000 and saw it certified gold (for sales of 500,000) before the year was out. In May 2001, less than three weeks before his thirteenth birthday, Gilman’s record company issued his third album, Dare to Dream.

Music Through Heartsongs, a collaboration with young poet Mattie J. T. Stepanek, was issued in 2003. Gilman, whose voice had changed by this point, and Sony Music parted ways shortly thereafter.

Thanks to Kristen Jo for submitting the biography.