American country music star Ty Herndon has had a rollercoaster life, from chart-topping success to failed marriages and substance abuse.
Now out as gay, he’s happier than ever. We caught up with him ahead of him headlining the first ever Nashville Meets London music festival.
You’ve said your new album, House On Fire, is more personal and true. Singing about boys instead of girls?
Being authentic is very, very important to me because I lived my life for so long inauthentically.
I got into the studio and my heart was so free, my pen for writing songs was so free, and we actually ended up having a pretty gender-free album.
Whether it was the LGBT community, the diehard country community, whoever wanted to listen to my music, I wanted to make sure they could put their own life into those songs.
Whether it’s a boy or a girl or a transgender person, black or white, whatever, I just wanted people to feel what I was singing about.
Before you came out were you always singing to boys in your head?
With some songs like What Mattered Most, the lyrics are ‘her eyes were blue, her hair was long’. And if I’m at a Pride festival people say ‘well why don’t you switch that and say him/his’. And I say this was a hit song for me and I’m going to sing it the way it was written.
Every now and then I’ll change the words toward the end of the chorus and the crowd goes crazy.
I’m sure there were gay men and women in the past who changed the lyrics for me out there.
I ask myself do I really want to change the way the song was written or do I want to move forward from where I am today? That thought played a large part in writing the new album.
I wrote a song called Sweet Sweet Way To Go that I wrote for my partner Matthew, but there are also songs like Fighter that are about my survival in this business and in my life.
You were married to women before, so some people wonder if you are bi or gay?
I am one million percent gay.
With the traditional values of country music, I thought I had to be a certain way. I had to wear a cowboy hat, I had to hold a guitar, I had to have a wife, and my dreams meant more to me than my self-esteem.
That led me down some pretty dark roads. Living the life of a lie for a very long time. There were some amazing wives that I’m still friends with today that I love very much, but the answer to that question is GAY! (laughs)
‘I was done with hiding… but I didn’t know if I could have music in my life still’
Did you feel you were forced to come out in 2014?
Absolutely not. I made the decision to come out for my own health, for my own well being, for the part of me that wanted to live authentically for the rest of my life.
I was done with hiding, I was done with lies, I was done with all the things that had caused me so much damage.
I actually didn’t know if I would even have a career in country music after that, I made the decision for me. I also made a decision to come out for that 12-year-old boy that might be sitting at home and read this interview that wants a career in country music and thinks he has to do all this stuff that he doesn’t have to do.
That kid can know he is perfectly loved, and he is not damaged. He can go out into this world and be brilliant with exactly the heart, the guts, the brains, and the sexuality that god gave him.
Coming out was a very difficult decision for me because I didn’t know if I could have music in my life still, at least the same way.
It was also the easiest thing I’d ever done. I was getting rid of anything that didn’t belong in my life anymore.
I’m so glad I made the decision.
Were there people in the industry who warned you against doing it?
I never heard anyone tell me that I shouldn’t do it.
I had maybe a couple friends question if it was the right business decision for me. They were like ‘dude if you don’t sing what are you gonna do?’ But that wasn’t important to me.
I didn’t come out of the closet with a book or a cd, I just chose a day and came out and sat down with a few news outlets and told my truth. Now 18 months later, I do have a new album coming out and in January a book, also called House On Fire, coming out.
I’m a man of faith, some people call it God, some people call it Universe. But God has tremendously blessed me in the past 18 months with the opportunity to tell my story and change hearts and minds. And guess what, I still get to do it through music, and that’s pretty damn cool... Continue Reading.
This has been reposted from Gay Star News.