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Billy Gilman, <i>Music Through Heartsongs</i> - 2003-05-13

Singer Billy Gilman was only 11 years old when he arrived on the Country scene with his debut album One Voice. Billy turns 15 on May 24, and on his new album, we not only hear a change in his voice, but also a different musical style.

I Could, If They Would is one of 12 songs on Billy Gilman's latest album, Music Through Heartsongs. The collection is based on poems written by 13-year-old Mattie Stepanek, who has spent his entire life battling a rare and deadly form of muscular dystrophy. In I Could, If They Would, Stepanek imagines how different his live could be if researchers found a cure for the disease.

Billy met Mattie after television talk show host Larry King aired a program that included segments on the two young talents. Gilman was so impressed with Stapenek's wisdom and courage, he decided to help bring more attention to his messages of hope and peace.

Mattie began writing poems when he was only three years old to help him deal with his disease. To date, he's published five books of poetry. Together they've sold nearly two million copies - one topped the New York Times best-seller list. He often writes about world peace and appreciating life's many pleasures. But, Mattie has also addressed the subject of death, not only thoughts of his own mortality, but the loss of his sister and two brothers to muscular dystrophy.

It Happened Anyway, based on Mattie Stepanek's poem about the death of his brother Jamie.

Billy Gilman's return to recording came after waiting two years for his voice to change. He says, "I went from mezzosoprano all the way down to high tenor. I'd sit at the piano and say, there goes my high 'F', there goes my high 'C.'"

Interestingly, Billy made his comeback with a non-Country album. Music Through Heartsongs covers a wide variety of styles, including pop, Celtic, Latin and Hawaiian-sounding melodies.

Gilman was recently named National Youth Chairman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He'll spearhead efforts of teenagers and young adults across the country who volunteer their time and energy to help the charity organization's lifesaving mission.

Billy Gilman sings For Our World, is a poem by Mattie Stepanek urging everyone to live together in peace, regardless of our differences.