The singer-songwriter, who came out in 2014, wants fans to hear “What Mattered Most” the way he wishes he could’ve recorded it originally.
Country singer-songwriter Ty Herndon is kicking off LGBTQ Pride Month by giving one of his most beloved hits a fresh, forward-thinking shine.
HuffPost got an exclusive first look at the music video for “What Mattered Most,” viewed above. The new version boasts a contemporary arrangement of the haunting melody introduced in Herndon’s original. This time, however, he’s replaced all of the female pronouns with their male equivalent, in an effort to reflect his life as a gay man.
The Alabama-raised artist, 57, told HuffPost he wanted to show LGBTQ youth that “Nashville and the country community have come a long way” by revamping the ballad, which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s country songs chart in February 1995.
“I can’t tell you how many times I hear them say, ‘We want to like country music ― we just don’t think it likes us,’” he said. “I was diffidently looking for a way to celebrate the song’s birthday. So this seemed like the perfect idea.”
For fans, the new version of “What Mattered Most” is the first taste of Herndon’s forthcoming album, “Got It Covered.” Slated for an Aug. 23 release, the album is the singer-songwriter’s first since 2016’s “House On Fire,” and his second since publicly opening up about his sexuality in 2014.
Though Herndon acknowledges that “there is still a lot of truth” to the perception of country music as traditionally conservative, his influence can be felt across a growing number of performers and personalities within the genre. In 2017, Country Music Television (CMT) personality Cody Alan came out as gay on his social media channels, telling fans he felt “happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.”
Last fall, singer-songwriter Brandon Stansell (with whom Herndon has performed in the past) recalled his own coming out experience in the video for “Hometown,” the first of his singles to receive CMT airplay. And in March, independent artist Cameron Hawthorn scored a viral hit with the video for his song, “Dancing in the Living Room,” in which he canoodled lovingly with a boyfriend.
Calling himself “somewhat of a counselor to the community,” Herndon credits stars like Kacey Musgraves and Maren Morris, as well as legends like Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire ― all of whom court sizable LGBTQ fan bases ― with “helping to change things pretty rapidly.”
As for the new version of “What Mattered Most,” he hopes it will appeal to both fans who have been following his work since the original as well as new audiences who may not have heard the song before. The song will be a part of his set Thursday when he takes the stage at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon for the Concert for Love and Acceptance, an annual event he’s co-hosted with GLAAD since 2015.
Whether listeners approach the song as a newbie or with knowledge of the 25-year journey that inspired the redux, Herndon is just happy it will now be heard “with the emotion and story that I intended.”
Best Inclusivity: Concert for Love and Acceptance
Out country star Ty Herndon and openly gay CMT host Cody Alan presided over the GLAAD-sponsored Love & Acceptance Concert at the Wildhorse Saloon, now in its third year. Yet, while the event had its share of LGBT representation – including British pop-soul singer Calum Scott, country-blues belter Shelly Fairchild and country newcomers Brandon Stansell and Parson James – there were also profound messages of solidarity and inclusiveness in performances from Cam, Thompson Square, Cale Dodds, Cassadee Pope and Michael Ray, as well as country veterans Tanya Tucker, Terri Clark and Billy Dean. As surprise guest Vince Gill – a country-music statesman if ever there was one – told the crowd, “As a young child I heard the words that we were all created equal. I believed that as a little boy and I believe that as a grown man.” S.B.
Best Welcome Presence: GLAAD
There are always plenty of non-profit organizations with footprints at CMA Fest, but seeing such a widespread presence from GLAAD was especially heartening, particularly at the beginning of Pride Month. GLAAD, which stands for Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, had volunteers offering information, registering voters, and collecting donations throughout the festival grounds, with strong support from social media. The organization’s third Concert for Love and Acceptance, put on in conjunction with Ty Herndon and held at Wildhorse Saloon, was a sold-out event and featured a surprise appearance from Vince Gill. B.M.
Love filled the room Thursday (June 7) at GLAAD and Ty Herndon’s Concert for Love & Acceptance.
CMT’s Cody Alan hosted the event, which saw performances by Ty, Tanya Tucker, Terri Clark, Billy Dean, Michael Ray, Cam, Cale Dodds and Britain’s Got Talent 2015 contestant Calum Scott at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon.
Vince Gill also surprised the sold-out crowd and revealed why it was important for him to attend.
“As a young child I always heard the words that we are all created equal,” Vince said. “I believed that as a little boy and I believe that as a grown man.”
Also on the lineup were Anita Cochran, Temecula Road, Thompson Square, Shelly Fairchild, Cassadee Pope, Brandon Stansell, newcomer Parson James and WWE Superstars Lana and Sonya.
During the concert, GLAAD announced a $2500 grant for young LGBTQ musicians called the Ty Herndon Rising Stars Grant, which is eligible to LGBTQ young people who are working to accelerate acceptance in the music industry.
Partners at the 2018 Concert for Love Acceptance included CMT, Ketel One Vodka, Nissan Mary Frances Rudy from Rudy Title & Escrow and Wade Weissmann Architecture.
Award-winning artist Ty Herndon was recently invited to perform at the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner where he sang an exceptional rendition of “America The Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”
The event, hosted by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), featured comedian Michelle Wolf (Comedy Central’s Daily Show With Trevor Noah) on the entertainment line-up.
The Association, founded in 1914 to represent the White House press corps, works to maintain independent news media coverage of the president, advocating for access, handling logistics for pools of reporters who stay close to the president and those who travel with him and providing scholarships to journalism students.
The annual dinner has been attended by U.S. Presidents and First Ladies for decades as well as many other senior government officials and members of the press corps. Proceeds from the dinner support the association’s year-round work as well as scholarships for aspiring journalists and awards recognizing excellence in the journalism profession.
The WHCA represents the White House press corps in its dealings with the administration and advocates for journalists’ ability to see and report on the president and his staff. Herndon attended the event with the intention of raising awareness for the “Beyond I Do” campaign which is working to bring attention to the discrimination of the LGBTQ community in the U.S. This campaign is raising awareness of this discrimination by giving real Americans a platform to tell their stories of being fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, or denied basic services because of their sexual identity.
About Ty Herndon: Ty Herndon’s career has produced more than four million in album sales, a Grammy nomination, Dove Award and multiple No. 1 singles on the Country charts, including “What Mattered Most,” “Living in a Moment” and “It Must Be Love.” Among his nine studio albums and 17-charted singles are the Top 10 hits, “I Want My Goodbye Back,” “Loved Too Much,” “A Man Holding On (To a Woman Letting Go)” and “Hands of a Working Man.” Most recently, Herndon debuted his most ambitious album to date, titled House on Fire. He made history when he hosted the first-of-its-kind country music event, The Concert For Love and Acceptance. The event, designed to bring attention and support to at-risk youth, has received national attention from Boston Globe, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Tonight, and more.
Music legends and newcomers from across genres will take the stage at LGBTQ-affirming concert taking place during CMA Fest
New York, Tuesday March 27, 2018 – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today announced the 2018 Concert for Love and Acceptance set for June 7 at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville. The show, taking place the night after the “2018 CMT Music Awards,” and on the opening night of CMA Fest, will feature a coalition of artists and celebrities appearing and performing to accelerate acceptance for the LGBTQ community. Ty Herndon and CMT’s Cody Alan will host, and the event will feature performances by Herndon, as well as Terri Clark, Cassadee Pope, Michael Ray, Calum Scott, Brandon Stansell, and more. Additional appearances and performances to be announced. CMT will return as the event’s media sponsor and will amplify the event and line-up across its radio and social platforms. Additional support for the event is provided by Nissan.
“Music has the power to uplift, empower, and change hearts and minds across the country,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “GLAAD is honored to present the third Concert for Love and Acceptance to help drive forward acceptance with an amazing lineup of talent and messages of support for the LGBTQ community.”
“We’re proud to once again lock arms with our friends at GLAAD to lend our voice and support to an event that champions love and acceptance through the power of music,” said Frank Tanki, General Manager of CMT and TV Land.
The inaugural Concert for Love and Acceptance was held in 2015 to kick off GLAAD’s Southern Stories Tour and the second iteration was held in 2017. The event has been supported by artists like Reba McEntire, with a lineup of performances has included Chris Carmack, Crystal Gayle, Billy Gilman, Dana Goldberg, Kree Harrison, Mickey Guyton, Levi Hummon, Runaway June, Ryan Kinder, Meghan Lindsey, Street Corner Symphony, Thompson Square, and Trent Harmon. GLAAD’s Southern Stories initiative tells the stories of LGBTQ people and their allies in the South to create a cultural shift towards LGBTQ acceptance and understanding in the region.
“I’m thrilled to partner with GLAAD once again for this show that has broken so much new ground and started so many important conversations over the past three years ,” said Herndon. “Letting our LGBTQ friends, family, and neighbors know they are accepted and loved just as they are isn’t just making the world a better place – it’s literally saving lives – and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
In recent years, country music has become a more affirming environment for the LGBTQ community with chart toppers like Luke Bryan and “Most People are Good” following in the footsteps of Garth Brooks, Kasey Mugraves, and The Dixie Chicks sharing inclusive messages through their lyrics. Furthermore, CMT host Cody Alan came out publicly in late 2016 in People Magazine with the help of GLAAD and received an outpouring of support and love from the country music community and his fans. Stars like Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith, and Dierks Bentley all voiced their support on social media. Ty Herndon, a Grammy nominated and Dove Award winning artist with album sales of more than 4 million, was the first major male country music star to come out, when he shared his story with the world in 2014.
“As we fight attempts to roll back equality and compromise the ground we have gained for acceptance, it is important for our community to continue to tell our stories and for allies to stand up and be counted,” said Ellis.
The 2018 Concert for Love and Acceptance occurs during the legendary CMA Music Festival, running from June 7-10 in Nashville.