Billy Currington has come a long way from working construction and living in a tiny attic apartment during his early days in Nashville. In the decade since he made his debut with the top ten hit “Walk a Little Straighter,” the Georgia native has parlayed his rich, emotion-laden tenor and unerring song sense into some of the country format’s most memorable hits, including such No. 1s as “We Are Tonight,” “Hey Girl, “Good Directions,” “Must Be Doin’ Something Right” and “People Are Crazy.”
Currington’s songs have always been snapshots of life. His music is steeped in truth and possesses a relatability that makes his audience feel like they could drink a beer or catch a few fish with the curly-haired country boy. Currington has that heartfelt everyman quality that lends emotional weight to whatever he’s singing whether it’s a tender ballad or a rollicking party anthem. He demonstrates his ability to render both those scenarios and all points between on his fifth studio album We Are Tonight.
Led by the fast-climbing No. 1 single “Hey Girl,” We Are Tonight is filled with songs that evoke both wistful reflection and boisterous revelry with equal conviction. Throughout the collection, Currington exudes the easy going charm that has become his trademark yet also possesses a maturity and confidence that comes from a decade of churning out hits and earning accolades. He won the “Hottest Video of the Year” honor at the fan-voted CMT Music Awards for “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” in 2006, the same year he received an ACM nod for Top New Male Vocalist. His hit duet with Shania Twain, “Party For Two,” earned nominations from both the CMA and ACM, and “People Are Crazy” proved to be a career-defining hit that earned Grammy nominations for Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song in addition to being nominated for Single and Song of the Year from the Academy of Country Music, as well as Single, Song and Video of the Year from the Country Music Association.
Currington could have continued in the same hit-making groove he had established with producer Carson Chamberlain, yet on We Are Tonight he steps out of his comfort zone. “This album is the first time that I ever worked with three different producers,” says Currington, who again partnered with Chamberlain and also engaged Dann Huff and Shy Carter. “Carson is one of the greatest producers in Nashville. I still enjoy making music with him and always will, but there were a couple of songs that I didn’t feel like fit Carson and I. So I called on Dann Huff, one of the magic men in Nashville. He’s a great producer, great guitar player and he just fit a couple of the songs perfectly.”
Currington was introduced to Carter by his former landlord. “He ended up living in their attic after I did and that’s how we met,” he says of Carter, who has collaborated with Nelly, Ashanti, Rob Thomas and co-wrote Sugarland’s No. 1 hit “Stuck Like Glue.” Currington decided to pay a visit to Carter in Los Angeles and wound up recording the final track for We Are Tonight, a quirky, up-beat love song titled “Hallelujah.” “Shy started laying down the beat and we started putting some guitars to it and by six o’clock the next morning we were done with the song,” Currington relates. “I put it at the end of the album because I thought the energy in the song and everything about it would be perfect to end the record.”
Carter joins Currington on the clever “Banana Pancakes.” “That was written by Jack Johnson, one of my favorite singer/songwriters,” Currington says. “It’s such a great laid back song. We recorded it and then I started thinking about background harmonies so Shy came in. He and Karyn Rochelle put the harmonies on. And if you listen to the end of ‘Banana Pancakes,’ it’s got a rap to it that Shy just laid down out of the blue. He didn’t write it or think about it or anything. He just walked up to the mic and said what it says and that’s how we got that.”
Currington cites “Hey Girl” as one of his favorite songs he’s ever recorded. “I was drawn to that song because of the amped up energy it has,” he says. “It was written by a couple of friends of mine, Rhett Atkins being one. I love that guy and he’s from Georgia. I always wanted to record one of his songs. He’s one of the first concerts I ever went to in Nashville. When I got the song and I had a choice. I could choose any producer out there to work this song. I thought Dann Huff would be perfect for this song, and he was. You hear that guitar in it. You hear the power of the drums. Everything about that recording – I’ll take a little credit, not much – but Dann Huff is the reason.”
“Hard to Be a Hippie” is a song that Currington discovered when he was surfing You Tube and ran across an acoustic performance by his pal Scotty Emerick. “I saw the great fan reaction and it’s a song I couldn’t get out of my head,” Currington says. “I called him up and I’m like, ‘Man, you’ve got to send me that Hippie song.’ My first thought when I was listening to the demo was this would be perfect to record with Willie Nelson. I mentioned it to Scotty and he’s like ‘Well I know Willie pretty good’ so he mentioned it to Willie and I ended up meeting Willie on his bus one afternoon. We played it for him and he was in. We went to Texas and recorded his vocal and that’s how ‘Hard to Be a Hippie’ came about.”
The anthemic title track is the first tune Huff sent Currington after the two agreed to work together. “I listened to it 20 times,” Currington says excitedly. “About the third time, I called Dann saying, ‘Man, count me in!’ I couldn’t wait. I was really, really antsy to get in the studio with this song. There was something about it. I knew he would bring a really amped up production on it and make it sound like it was in an arena or stadium. And he did. It came out exactly like I wanted it to.”
“Wingman” is a fun up tempo tune about barroom camaraderie gone awry when the wingman actually steals the girl and takes her home. Currington’s personality-packed delivery makes each track on We Are Tonight a memorable event. Among the album’s many highlights is “23 Degrees and South,” a tune that has already become a fan favorite in his live shows. “It sounds like a song that I could have written because it’s so much about me,” says Currington. “It’s about Key West and I go there quite often. I’ve spent so many days in the sunshine down there fishing and spear fishing, paddle boarding and just being a part of Key West. Everything about ‘23 Degrees and South’ explains my life and down there.”
The sea is in Currington’s soul and is a constant presence in his life and music. The Georgia born artist spent his early years on Tybee Island before his family moved inland to Rincon. He recalls his parents playing vinyl records by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers. His mom took him to see Rogers in concert when he was 10 and it proved to be a pivotal moment. “It was there that night I remember thinking, ‘man I’d love to be that guy. I’d love to be doing this,’” says Currington. “It was an amazing show, the energy in there and everything about it I never forgot.”
Like many country entertainers, Currington began singing in church. “I met this preacher when I was 17. I heard about this church and just went there. They had a rocking little band,” Currington remembers. The preacher invited him to sing the next week and Billy made quite an impression. Some of his musician friends from church asked him to sing with their band and then had to sneak the underage singer into clubs to perform. “It just started happening so fast,” he says. “The next thing you know I’m playing in a band and the preacher is taking me to Nashville.”
After that introductory visit, Currington decided Nashville was where he needed to be. He moved at 18 and began paying dues. He poured concrete and worked as a personal trainer at a gym during the day and played in bars at night. He began writing songs and singing on demos. “I was meeting all these songwriters. That led me into singing everybody’s songs. I was doing 10 demos a day,” he says. “Before you know it, I started getting deal offers from record labels.”
Currington signed with Mercury Records and released his self-titled debut in 2003. His first single, “Walk a Little Straighter,” quickly established Currington as a singer/songwriter of depth and substance. The song peaked at No. 8 and he followed with “I Got A Feelin,’” which became his first top five. From there, the hits continued as his sophomore album Doin’ Somethin’ Right spawned his first No. 1 with “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” and his second No. 1 with “Good Directions.” Released in 2008, his third album, Little Bit of Everything, featured five songs co-written by Currington. The Bobby Braddock/Troy Jones penned “People Are Crazy” became his third No. 1 and he followed that with a song he co-wrote, “That’s How Country Boys Roll,” which also hit the top of the charts. In September 2010 Currington released Enjoy Yourself, which included the No. 1 hits “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer” and “Let Me Down Easy.”
We Are Tonight finds Billy Currington in peak form. The songs are sometimes whimsical, often poignant and always compelling. Seasoned by time and peppered with experience, his distinctive voice has never sounded better and he’s a young man who appreciates the road he’s traveled. He’s humbled by the successes of his past yet always looking forward. “It’s like you work so many years to get it and you finally got it,” says Currington, who once again makes his home on Tybee Island. “I feel so blessed.”
Several artists have been added to this year’s CMT Artists of the Year show, including performances by Sam Hunt, Carrie Underwood (live-streamed from her Cry Pretty Tour 360 show in Cleveland, Ohio), Dan + Shay, Thomas Rhett, Kane Brown, Ashley McBryde and more. Presenters include Vince Gill and Maddie & Tae. This year’s special celebrates the network’s five Artists of the Year – Carrie Underwood, Dan + Shay, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett and Kane Brown – in addition to Reba McEntire (Artist of a Lifetime) and Ashley McBryde (Breakout Artist of the Year). The 90-minute show will air Wednesday (October 16th) at 8pm ET.
Luke Bryan’s hit “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” was just certified double platinum by the R.I.A.A., while his “Someone Else Calling You Baby” was just declared platinum. Jon Pardi’s “Up All Night” and Billy Currington’s “Don’t It” were also certified platinum, while Gary Allan’s “It Ain’t the Whiskey,” Eric Church’s “Some of It,” Luke’s “Drinkin’ Beer & Wasting Bullet” and Sam Hunt’s “Downtown’s Dead” were all certified gold.
Jon Pardi will perform on ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday (October 18th).
Brothers Osborne will perform at the Troy Gentry Foundation’s C’Ya on the Flip Side II February 5th at the Grand Ole Opry House, along with Trace Adkins, Rhett Akins, Tracy Lawrence, Justin Moore, Mark Wills and Eddie Montgomery. The benefit will raise funds for the Foundation, the Opry Trust Fund, T.J. Martell Foundation, Make-A-Wish, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and many others.
New EMI Nashville Recording Artist Kylie Morgan is one of three recipients of the second annual CMA KixStart Artist Scholarship. Over the next year, the CMA will provide support, connections with top industry professionals, participation in CMA-related events and a stipend to assist with their developing careers. She is currently opening several shows for Kip Moore and released a song “Boys Girl” to all digital partners.
Billy Currington just announced a benefit concert for The Bahamas taking place this Saturday (September 14th) in Key West. Posting the information on his socials, the Billy Currington & Co will play a free concert (with donations and proceeds to go to Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas) on Sunset Pier beginning at 6pm.
The surfing enthusiast wrote, “Headed south as south gets to Key West Florida. After seeing the impact Hurricane Dorian had on the Bahamas , I feel I gotta do something. So I looked online for organizations already in motion, helping out the island of Green Turtle Cay, which I came to know when we shot the video for the song People Are Crazy. I saw that my friend Paul Menta is heading up fundraising efforts with Key West Cares and putting on a show at the Key West Theatre. I want to be a part of what they’re doing so headed down to play a few songs at the theater this Saturday night Sept 14, 7 pm. If you wanna come down and check out the show or be a part in some way, look up Key West Cares online for more info. Also I feel like we can raise even more money at the full band after party at the Sunset Pier starting round sunset on. If you have something to auction, hit up Paul Menta at Key West Cares. Paul runs Key West Legal Rum distillery and has just put in the first super sweet auction item. Most of all, can’t wait to hang and see people gather up for the love of the Bahamas.
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Headed south as south gets to Key West Florida. After seeing the impact Hurricane Dorian had on the Bahamas , I feel I gotta do something. So I looked online for organizations already in motion, helping out the island of Green Turtle Cay, which I came to know when we shot the video for the song People Are Crazy. I saw that my friend Paul Menta is heading up fundraising efforts with Key West Cares and putting on a show at the Key West Theatre. I want to be a part of what they’re doing so headed down to play a few songs at the theater this Saturday night Sept 14, 7 pm. If you wanna come down and check out the show or be a part in some way, look up Key West Cares online for more info. Also I feel like we can raise even more money at the full band after party at the Sunset Pier starting round sunset on. If you have something to auction, hit up Paul Menta at Key West Cares. Paul runs Key West Legal Rum distillery and has just put in the first super sweet auction item. Most of all, can’t wait to hang and see people gather up for the love of the Bahamas.
Billy is currently making his way up the country charts with “Details.”
For many decades, Labor Day was seen as a day for workers to voice their complaints and discuss better working conditions and pay.
U.S. Congress declared Labor Day a national holiday in 1894, and on Monday, September 2nd, we will once again celebrate the people in every occupation whose work and dedication make this nation great. Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers.
Labor Day weekend also signals the unofficial end to summer, and many of the hottest country stars are taking a look back at some of the toughest jobs they had prior to making their mark in music or their dream job now.
Adam Hambrick (Labor Day-jobs) OC: …that summer. :41
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had a bad job. I don’t think I had a bad job, ‘cause I actually enjoyed this job ‘cause I was actually sitting in the air conditioning all day over the summer in Arkansas. It was very monotonous, because I was spending every summer day repairing old fallen-apart medical charts in a heart clinic in Little Rock. I would take all these photos of all these records and re-sort them page-by-page and put ‘em back in the manila folder and re-alphabetize ‘em. But I did bring my computer and watch movies while I did it, so I drank a lot of soda and watched a lot of movies that summer.”
AJ (working people songs) OC: … appreciate that. :28
“I’ve always written songs and recorded songs, other people’s songs, about workin’ people, and workin’, the workin’ life ’cause I mean, that’s where I’m from. I mean, I worked…I’d already had jobs and worked as a grown person before I ever even thought about bein’ in the music business, so I come from that background, and…although I hadn’t had a job in a long time (laughs), I still remember a lot about it, you know, and I remember what the lifestyle is, and I still appreciate that.”
Billy Currington (Labor Day) OC: …record deal. :40
“I started working like at [age] 12, landscaping. This was summer, every summers, and roofing. I started when I was about 16 roofing houses, and that was probably one of my toughest jobs because down there in South Georgia, it gets hot, so doing that every day all summer long. The pawn shop when I moved to Nashville was one of my favorites, even though it was one of my least favorites. The concrete job was my least favorite of all – six years of that, and I couldn’t take it no more. After that job, that was my turning point. Either I’m going to do something else for a living [laughs] or quit and try to really focus on music and get this record deal.”
Brandon Lay (Labor Day) OC: …a good one. :13
“You know, I can’t complain too much about Labor Day, ‘cause usually doing landscaping and it had slowed down a little, but the water’s still warm enough to hit the river. I’ve gotten to spend some time out on the lake for Labor Day, so Labor Day’s a good one.”
Carrie Underwood (Labor Day) OC: …born to do. :59
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad job. I’ve had hard jobs. I’ve had jobs that worked random hours. My first job was at a gas station, and that was a lot of fun actually. While I was working at the gas station, I took another job at a hotel down the street. There was nobody else working there. I had one day of training and then the next day I came in, and the lady that had worked there the longest and was training me just didn’t show. So, the second day at work I was now in charge ‘cause I was now the senior member that was working at the hotel. So, I feel like that one was really challenging to figure my way through it, but I did. My best job is definitely what I do now. I really like being on stage. I really like performing for people and just having fun and singing, because that’s what I feel like I was born to do.”
Caylee Hammack (Labor Day-worst job) OC: …worst job. (laughs) :38
“My worst job was working in a nursery, actually. I love kids so I thought I’d be really good at it, but wen you’re the new person coming in, you have to change all the diapers first. So, I was changing 45 diapers a day and it got to the point where everything smelled like baby poop. It literally drove me crazy. I would walk my dog and I would have to go to pick up her poop, and it would smell like baby poop, and I just couldn’t handle it, honestly. The smell of poop warded me away. The children were lovely, but the smell of poop lingered, and I couldn’t handle that job. That was my worst job.” (laughs)
Clare Dunn (Labor Day) OC: …had to do. 1:05
“I was coming for school. I remember I was two weeks late for school [at Belmont], because I had stayed in Texas longer to drive a silage truck for harvest. Harvest was still going on and I needed the money, so I stayed down there. I called all my professors. I explained what I was doing. I said, ‘I’m not going to be there for the first two weeks.’ They all were very, I told them why, and they were all very accepting of that. So, I got home. I was worn out from driving this truck in Texas, and I remember getting home in like the morning or the night before and I left the next day. I literally just chucked as much stuff in a U-haul as I could, and my family was helping me get it all ready while I was on the truck. I remember, everybody cried. I’m probably gonna cry just talking about it, because it was so many unknowns, and I just drove myself out to Tennessee. It was very emotional for me, obviously, just seeing that Tennessee state line sign and being scared to death, but knowing that’s what I had to do.”
Darius Rucker (Labor Day) OC: …pizza. :15
“I was fifteen, and I worked at a pizza place, and the guy decided that at fifteen, that I could not only clean the floors and wash the dishes, but I also had to make pizza. So, for two months, he taught me how to make pizza.”
Dierks Bentley (Labor Day) OC: …generosity. :26
“Personally, the fans give me amazement. That’s the only word to really sum it up. I look out in the crowd, you know, usually see a lot of faces and fans are cheering. I know each one of these like from the road-the signs are from California…Michelle and Kayla live up in the Ohio area. They’re all, I just see them, and I’m like, ‘Wow!,’ they’re all from different regions. You know when you’re in a different region of the country and you just see certain fans. These people are way more hard core than I am, and I’m just amazed by their generosity.”
Eric Church (Labor Day-odd jobs) OC: …bought at 2am. 1:27
“I had an awful job. I’ve had a lot of awful jobs…my worst one was when I first came to Nashville. I got a job at the Shop at Home Network. I worked midnight, graveyard, midnight to eight. That was bad enough but then I would work all night, go home, shower and then I had writing appointments all day because I was trying to get a career started. I’d go write songs and get meetings just trying to get signed. And end up getting done at 3 of 4 with all of that, I’d go home, take a shower or sleep for a little bit and then I had to be at work again at midnight. So the schedule was bad enough, however, what I had to do at the job…I sold knives from midnight to 7 or 8am. And, anytime somebody calls you at 3 or 4am and needs 200 knives for $19.95, it’s automatically an alarming situation. And I just, I was young and I’d been in a lot of these people’s shoes, I had done this…I knew they were drunk. I knew what they had done. They’d just come home from the bar, flipped on Shop at Home and said, ‘You know what? I need that.’ So the reason the job didn’t last long for me is that I was maybe the worst salesmen in history because I ended up talking a lot of these people out of it, I’d say, ‘I’ll tell you what man, go to bed, call me, I’ll be here in the morning. If you get up in the morning and want these knives you call me back.’ Because I knew what was going to happen, you know. They bought 200 knives for $19.95…first of all some of these people you didn’t know whether you should call the cops. What do you need 200 knives for? Even though I’m selling them…what do you need them for? So, it was awful doing that job. And then they got rid of me because, they were like, ‘You’re the worst. I can’t believe you’re talking people out of it.’ I was like, ‘Man I know…I’ve been there.’ [laughs] I’d want some to talk me out of buying some of the stuff I’ve bought at 2am.”
Jon Langston (Labor Day) OC: …is the bomb. :45
“The worst job – it wasn’t bad – I could just say growing up and stuff and in high school, I was working for my dad. It was a great job, working at the shop. One day I got tired of working for my dad. I thought it’d be smart to go work for somebody else and so I went to work at Chik-fil-a for a family friend, and I’m just not made for cooking chicken. But, I told my dad, ‘Hey, can I come back to work?’ (laughs) So, yeah, I mean, Chik-fil-a a great place to work if you’re into that kind of thing, but not me. But Chik-fil-a is m favorite fast food restaurant of all time. I mean, I will go to war for Chik-fil-a. I eat there probably three or four times a week. Chik-fil-a is the bomb.”
Jon Pardi (Labor Day) OC: …so bored! :17
“The worst job I ever had was at Hometown Grocery Store. I didn’t want to work, I was 15, and I did not want to work at the grocery store. Bagging was fun, but they sent me down the aisles to pull up cans and turn ‘em around and face ‘em, and I would just get so bored!”
Jordan Davis (Labor Day) OC: …worst job. :41
“[My] worst job was probably whenever I got out of school I started working for an environmental group in Baton Rouge, and I was doing actual environmental work at first. I went to my boss probably about four months in and told him that I was going to move to Nashville and write songs. Luckily enough, he let me stay on, but I became the weedeater guy for the landscaping side of the business. I seriously weedeated eight hours a day. The only break I would get would be in-between yard to yard. So, like we would be in the car and I would try to doze off for like 10 minutes. I was covered in grass in the middle of the summer in Baton Rouge. It was awful. That was definitely the worst job.”
Keith Urban (Labor Day) OC: …amazing. :22
“Seeing people connect to the music is absolutely, hands-down the biggest reward for me, especially when you go to a place you’ve never been to before and it’s all these people, I mean lots of people out there. You’ve never met a single one of ‘em and they’re singing every word, and you realize that it’s not just a pretty melody and everything, but they get the songs. It’s amazing.”
Kip Moore (Labor Day-worst job) OC: …than that. :21
“I’d have to say my worst job ever was laying sod in the south Georgia heat. There’s nothing than that, especially when somebody would think that you’re waiting for the next sod patch to be thrown to you and you got your back turned, and all of a sudden, that big ole piece of sod hits you right on the back. You got nowhere to clean up, and you’re just stuck with dirt on your back for the rest of the day. It doesn’t get any worse than that.”
Luke Bryan (Labor Day-jobs) OC: …Nashville… 1:07
“At age 12 thru 13, I worked at Rubos IGA Supermarket in Leesburg, GA. I worked during the summers on Monday and Tuesday. I stocked and cleaned up the produce. They paid me under the table…I peeled off all of the brown lettuce. Let’s see, when I was 15, I was a cashier at K-Mart for two months. I worked at K-Mart for two months, and then I reverted back to Rubos because it didn’t really make sense for me to drive all the way into Albany and work for K-Mart. The benefits were great though-you’d get an hour-long on the blue light special. So I started back at Rubos, and then I quit Rubos and worked for my Dad-just awful just driving tractors through cotton all day, and spraying pesticides that eventually would turn your hair green. And then at some point, I started playing guitar. And well, after college I went back and worked for my dad and continued to spray and haul fertilizer around. And then I moved to Nashville…”
Travis Denning (Labor Day) OC: …right for it. :13
“I’ve always played music. I mean, my first gig was when I was 16-years-old. That was what I did. And as soon as I found out I could make money doing it, I thought I’d much rather make money doing this than anything else, so I went right for it.”