So, do you know who Billy Gilman is? I didn't, really. I was a young singer studying her undergraduate degree in classical singing when lo and behold, my mother suddenly went CD-crazy and bought me 4 Charlotte Church albums. Previously, I'd only heard of Charlotte Church from a duet she did on a Josh Groban album. (I know. You're beginning to figure out what my early CD collection was like, aren't you?) So anyway, I got into the Charlotte Church albums (thanks, Mum) and really liked a duet that she did on one of them, which was called "Dream A Dream (Elysium)". It's actually a tune by French composer Gabriel Fauré, written in 1887, called Pavane (Op. 50). The album in question of Charlotte's was called Dream A Dream, and she recorded the title song as a duet with a boy named Billy Gilman. I didn't know who the heck that was, but he had the sweetest, clearest voice, and according to my cursory research made at the time, he was, like... 11. 12. Really, really young. I came across a song of Billy's called Oklahoma, which was a lovely, mushy song that made me feel good about living, and so I decided that Billy Gilman must be a great singer to keep watching for. (I just watched a bit of the YouTube I've linked you to, and had to turn it off as it was making me weepy - AGAIN. The power of a good story.)
I've decided to save you the trouble of clicking away to YouTube. Here, just watch the duet here. Cute vid. Note that Billy totally had some sort of retainer thing in his mouth while recording. Mad props.
Being a university student, I didn't have quite the budget to stretch to importing American CDs (shipping, you know... it's a killer) and so it wasn't until quite recently (last year, 2009) that I finally remembered I wanted to buy some more of his stuff. Went online and found that I could buy all 4 of his CDs from his website! Sweet! Buying directly from artist and therefore directly supporting musical career: TICK! Then, of course, my sweet little soprano brain became confused by the demands of buying from the website. I had to calculate my own shipping, AND add American sales tax! What the hell? In Australia, they just add the sales tax onto everything first! It's such an easy system! I had no idea what the rate of sales tax was in America, so I contacted the email address listed on the website and pleaded for help.
Received back an email from the Tour Manager, Al. What a nice dude. Seriously. Emails back and forth, always exceptionally polite. He even rang the local post office and worked out my postage costs for me. Then, he asked me if I'd like for Billy Gilman to personally autograph each CD to me. Sheesh, I thought! Cool! Monetary exchange and a few weeks later, and bam! I got a package from America containing 4 personally autographed CDs, which I shall now brag about to you:
Don't know if that's his first album or not. Could probably Google it for you, but if you're really interested, you should dang well do it yourself.
Billy's second album. Or maybe NOT. Did you hit up Google? Let me know. I'm just sitting here.
Another album. Not sure where this one fits in, chronologically. After doing a bit of googling for this post, I've come to realise that I'm missing not one but several CDs of his now. Bummer. This CD is especially important, as it is through the existence of this CD that I learned about Mattie J. Stepanek, a young peace-maker who wrote plenty of important books of poetry. His poetry was called Heartsongs, and promoted peace... He was an inspiration. He has since passed away, but his mum, Jeni Stepanek, is persevering! Follow her on Twitter. Also, you should read her book; I bought it and read it. Laughed. Cried. Smiled. Sobbed. Fantastic. She is one amazing person, and her son was nothing short of a miracle. What a joy to read. Foreword by Dr. Maya Angelou.
The fourth and final album in what I suppose I shall now term My Billy Gilman Collection. Yes. So. Excellent. Anyway. Just wanted to show off my new shiny things, and compliment Al on going above and beyond for some fan he's never met in Tasmania. The other side of the world. If he ever comes to Sydney, I'll buy him a beer.
Oh, and the Billy albums? Pretty good. Check Billy out on Twitter - he's being fought over by hundreds of girls.
@bg524 Wow now I'm reading that girls will wrestle in jello for me..that is AWESOME!!! via Twitter for BlackBerry®