Billy Dean Interview

Billy Dean is ridin' high on the charts. His song "Somewhere In My Broken Heart" went to Number One on the Country Singles Chart, and debuted on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart at Number 46.
Touring with the Judds, Billy Dean's album is titled "Young Man" (SBK Records).

Q. Billy, you'll be happy to know that your song "Somewhere In My Broken Heart" is being played on an AM Top 40 radio station in Syracuse. That song doesn't sound country. If someone told me you were a country artist I wouldn't have believed them.
A. Oh, really? (Laughs)

Q. But you are considered country?
A. Oh yeah, definitely. The song being kind of unique like it is, has been able to cross all boundaries. It's just a simple, melodic, very special ballad. I think it was successful in the country market because it still fit the format, yet it was just a little bit left of center, for what the normal kind of country song had been sounding like. But, it wasn't too far out. I think the same thing has happened on the Adult Contemporary Side, where it's not mainstream adult contemporary pop sounding, but it's just country enough and different enough that it got accepted there. It's just, that every once in a while a song like that will come along that just kind of floats over to different markets and formats. I'm glad it happened. I hope it's a good thing, a positive thing, and not a negative thing to happen.

Q. And you're coming out with a new album soon. What's it called?
A. It's self-titled, Billy Dean. It ships the 16 (of September), and so it should be in the stores by the end of September. I wrote four of the songs on the new album, and the current single that's out right now called, "You Don't Count the Cost," is also from the album. It's doing quite well, a breaker, second week I think, Number 34. We're currently touring the 'Young Man' album right now, We're doing some songs off both albums, probably half and half. It's gettin' a great response.

Q. You won a Wrangler Star Search Contest and moved to Nashville. You then were opening for Mel Tlllis, Gary Morris, and Ronnie Milsap. How did you make that jump?
A. Well, we did some package dates when I had my own little band. We had been traveling around in local clubs. It really wasn't a big jump. It was one of those deals, where it was almost luck. I knew Mel Tillis. I had actually helped get him booked in this one particular place, and we did the opening date for him. We did a few dates with Gary Morris. It was like at a point in his career where he could headline, but he was just starting to headline, in small venues. We just got a string of dates with a few artists like that. It helped us. We had a booking agent in Nashville who was helping us get on some of those shows. But basically, I mainly played clubs, and an occasional opening act situation. It gives you good exposure, but unless you have a record deal, and a record out to support that, it really doesn't get you anywhere — other than more work.

Q. So, you gave up the road and concentrated on what you called "the basic realities of the music business." By that, I imagine you're referring to songwriting, right?
A. Right. Exactly right. The songwriting community, the writers, the publishers, the musicians who play on all the song demos — that whole little community, I just fit right in and had a lot of friends that I was making at the time. I found it was a little easier for me to break in through the writing. I was a singer and hired a lot by other songwriters to sing their demos for 'em, which in turn I joined the union, and got some more work through that, which enabled me to stay in town. I also started writing with some of these writers, from other publishing companies. If you're an unknown writer, and you write with an established writer, and you write a great song, then the chances are that publishing company is gonna look hard and serious at signing you, especially if you're a singer, and a writer, And, that's kind of what happened in my case. I made it a personal goal to really pursue and learn how to craft a hit song. And so, I really concentrated on that for a number of years before I made the transition to being the artist/ writer.

Q. What do the people in your hometown of Quincy, Florida think of you?
A. (Laughs) I don't know, other than I think they're tremendously supportive and very happy for me. A lot of the people in Quincy know how bad I wanted this and know how hard I've worked to get here. A lot of 'em know a side of me that nobody probably will ever know. They talk about me everyday, and I haven't lived back there in ten years.

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