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.
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.”
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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.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit: http://www.glaad.org/nashville
“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.
glaad + Ty Herndon present The Concert for Love & Acceptance
[ presenting partner CMT ]
Hosted by CMT’s Cody Alan
Thursday, June 7, 2018 | 7PM
Wildhorse Saloon | Nashville, TN
Click here to get your VIP pre-sale tickets until February 19
Pre-sale password is EPIC
New site and updates coming soon. You can still see last year’s lineup by clicking CLFA2018 in the menu above
20 APR 2017
POSTED BY DAKOTA LINDSTROM
CMT joins as media partner, GLAAD returns as nonprofit partner
Ty Herndon’s 2017 Concert for Love & Acceptance, hosted by Cody Alan, announced its initial artist lineup, with more to be announced in the coming weeks. In addition to Ty Herndon, this year’s talent lineup already includes Billy Gilman, Kree Harrison, Ryan Kinder, Runaway June, Lorrie Morgan, Michael Ray, Street Corner Symphony, and Thompson Square. The event, created to support at-risk youth, will be held on Thursday, June 8th starting at 7 p.m. at Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, Tenn.
Grammy-nominated and Dove Award winning artist, Ty Herndon created and co-hosted the first Concert for Love & Acceptance alongside GLAAD in 2015, when his 20th anniversary fan club party turned into a coalition of artists gathering in support of Nashville’s at-risk youth. The driving force behind the benefit is Herndon’s desire to foster positive cultural change and encourage Nashville’s youth to live to their fullest potential.
This year’s partners include media partner CMT and nonprofit partner GLAAD, as well as local sponsors Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Wade Weissmann Architecture, and Retief Skin Center.
The first Concert for Love & Acceptance received national attention from Boston Globe, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine and more. A philanthropist at heart, Herndon has also donated his time to organizations such as the Trevor Project, Make A Wish, St. Jude, GLAAD, HRC and Feed the Children.
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Longtime fans of Ty Herndon will hear much to enjoy on his new album, House on Fire, which releases Friday, Nov. 11. His expressive vocals, the surging romance of his lyrics — all the things that put him on the map with his No. 1 debut single What Mattered Most are evident on each of its 12 tracks.
But there are differences. Listen closely to Just Friends, with its nod to “our little secret,” or the promise that “tonight we’re gonna do whatever we want to do” on All Night Tonight, or the admonition “don’t tell” on Sweet Way To Go. For all their expressions of love and intimacy, there’s no reference at all to gender.
Mention that to Herndon, 54, and he chuckles. “You got me,” he acknowledges. “But it wasn’t planned. When we were writing these songs, Erik (Halbig, producer) pointed that out. And I said, ‘Man, there are no accidents.’ I want anybody, from any walk of life, to hear this record and put their own stories into it while still hearing mine.”
Ty Herndon, right, shows off his shoes as Matt Collum
Ty Herndon, right, shows off his shoes as Matt Collum watches on the red carpet for the 50th CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena. (Photo: George Walker IV, The Tennessean/USA TODAY Sports)
The latest chapter in Herndon’s story began just two years ago, when he came out as gay — the first major male country performer to take that step. While House on Fire proves that his musical essence hasn’t changed, his message has evolved, mostly through details in his writing but, on the title track, much more frankly and powerfully.
“It took me two days to write that song because I kept getting so emotional that I had to walk out of the room,” he recalls. “Halfway through the process, my co-writers were feeling it too. I knew at that moment that I was not only writing my story, but I was writing a lot of people’s stories with these songs. All the pressure I’d felt just flew out the window at that point because I knew that my truth was a lot of people’s’ truth.”
Herndon savors the exhilaration of being able to live openly with his partner Matt Collum and the opportunities he’s found for counseling homeless youth, working with GLAAD and other worthy pursuits. Yet at heart, he insists, he’s pretty much what he’s always been … only more so.
“If I ever make it to Carnegie Hall, I’m not gonna preach — I’m just gonna sing,” he insists. “There’s a time and place for everything
by Bob Doerschuk, Special for USA TODAY
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If you ever need to brighten your day, it isn’t just Ty Herndon’s house that is on fire; it’s his personality that is ablaze. The country veteran is all fired up these days, excited to share new music with his fans and the industry, all of which is packaged on what is being deemed “the most powerful record of his career,” House On Fire.
This is my fifteenth studio album, which is kind of crazy to think there have been that many over the years, but House On Fire is one of my most personal albums. I wrote the majority of it with Eric Halbig, Drew Davis, and a handful of other writers, and it was a real learning process for me. It’s eighteen months in the making, from day one that we wrote the first song, which is a song called “All Night Tonight.” Experimenting with sounds and production and I grew so much as a producer and a songwriter, and it’s even possible today after all these years doing it. I even grew as a singer in the studio because I was experimenting with so many different melodies and had such a great time in the studio. And I had some heartbreaking times too. . . . I definitely had times I had to walk out of the room too, even during the writing process, ’cause you want to put yourself out there that raw and that emotional and you know people are gonna be listening to your stories. It’s really tough. You find yourself pulling back on how honest you want to be, and it’s so funny because you always come back to “say what you wrote.”
Part of that experimentation process for Herndon included figuring out a way to twist and bend a bit to fit into a genre that has evolved into a melting pot over the last few years. Though he ultimately ended up right where he wanted to be with this record, the journey to reach the destination was not always easy. In fact, Herndon admits to showing signs of resistance initially when it came to changing his style to make sense in today’s country music mold.
I did it kicking and screaming because I’m so set in my ways, but working with Eric and Drew who are really out there today writing with the current songwriters and producers and working with these musicians that are bringing all this great stuff to the table; I didn’t want to put a synthesizer bass over a real bass. Then I realized it wasn’t taking anything away from the integrity of what that bass player was playing. It was just adding a really cool texture to it. The old school Ty had to kind of grow up a little bit.
In “growing up,” Herndon had to learn it was okay to let loose and let go, even sharing those pieces of his heart and soul that led to quick trips out of the writing room or studio to compose himself. The result of those moments are songs like the title track, “House On Fire,” which he calls one of his favorites in the collection.
It’s the blueprint of this record. It’s sitting right up in the middle. I really had trouble placing it ’cause, it’s actually song number seven out of twelve songs, so it is in the middle. It’s a lot of fun. A lot of cool, flirty stuff and then we get up into the meat and potatoes of the record, and from there you go on a very serious journey for a few songs. Then, rounding it out with “Fighter,” which is an anthem for me. The personal content started with “House On Fire.” That was a very difficult song to write. It’s truly my story.
While “House On Fire” is his most personal song to date, Herndon does share that he has tracks from his earlier years that also touch him deeply — some for different reasons.
“Hat Full of Rain,” that was really talking about the heartbreak at that time of my life; all the struggles I was going through. Or the song “Living In a Moment.” I love singing love songs and just hearing people sing that at the top of their lungs. There was a lot of me in that and a lot of happy in that. I could take you through every song I ever recorded song-by-song and tell you exactly what was going on in my life at that time.
Conversely, Herndon does have one song that stands out as a recording regret, and fans, you may want to skim past this part if your hearts can’t take it.
I hated that I recorded Joe Cocker’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On.” We did it just as a show favorite and a fan favorite and, a lot of the fans are going to kill me for this, but I never loved steam. I still have a scar on my hand from that video where I cut myself. See? Poured some blood on that.
Now that Herndon has felt a personal evolution with his music, he is allowing nothing to hold him back — even that pesky scar. With a next record already in mind, Herndon’s wheels are spinning about who he could possibly approach for a duet, considering his catalog contains some pretty notable collaborations. While Bonnie Raitt is at the top of his list, he also has his ear on a couple of prominent country music females.
I really am a fan of Carrie [Underwood]. I really am a fan of Kacey Musgraves. Just people who are recording and putting out clever lyrics and can sing their butts off. I love singing duets.
Before Herndon can think about joining forces with other artists though, he wants to take some time to fly solo, bring his new, personal music to fans, and really talk about the stories behind the songs.
11/11 is the due date for this baby and we’re already talking about the next record. . . . I want more. I want more musical content. I have a book coming in the Spring too. There are so many more stories to tell.
As for those stories, at the end of the day, Herndon wants nothing more than to be remembered for the integrity in his music. Though he had moments in life when being honest on a personal level wasn’t always possible, his music always told the truth and spoke the words from his heart. This can especially be said about his next album, House On Fire, which will become available on November 11 and is able to be pre-ordered today.
It’s a musical crazy journey, but I feel like it’s one of my best albums since my first album What Mattered Most. It feels that new and that wonderful.
by Jen Swirsky
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