It's been 11 years since Billy Ray Cyrus earned worldwide attention with his breakthrough single, Achy Breaky Heart. Since 1992, the 41-year-old country singer has recorded six albums, and has also become a respected actor. Now, as we hear from VOA's Mary Morningstar, Billy Ray Cyrus has a new album, Time Flies.
Time Flies marks his first album in four years. It lays to rest persistent rumors that the singer walked away from the music business due to country radio's lack of support behind his 1999 album, Southern Rain.
Billy Ray grew up in Flatwoods, Kentucky, near the point of the Ohio River where Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio meet. As a teenager, he listened to everyone from Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynard and British rock group Led Zeppelin to country legends like Bill Monroe and Hank Williams.
After gaining a regional reputation with his band, Sly Dog, Billy Ray headed to Los Angeles in 1984, to try his luck as a professional singer. The attempt failed, and he returned to Kentucky. Two years later, he and his band began making frequent trips to Nashville, where he made connections with people in the Country music industry. One of those he met was Grand Ole Opry star Del Reeves, who arranged some demo sessions for Billy Ray, and introduced him to artist manager Jack McFadden. He was signed to Mercury Records in 1990. In 1992, Billy Ray became an international superstar with his debut single, Achy Breaky Heart.
He parted with Mercury Records in 1999, and during the past three years, Billy Ray focused on his acting career. He stars in the cable television series Doc. Billy Ray plays Dr. Clint Cassidy, a country physician from Montana, who moves to New York City to be closer to his love interest.
Billy Ray was signed to Sony Music for the release of his new CD. But record company politics, including a lawsuit filed against the label by the Dixie Chicks, held up its release. The album was finally issued last month.
Billy Ray wrote or co-wrote seven of the tracks on Time Flies. He says some of the songs reflect a darker mood brought on by the September 11, 2001, attacks on America. And although the album's release was delayed, he feels the crisis in Iraq has made the collection even more timely.
Billy Ray will spend the next few months promoting Time Flies on a North American concert tour. Then, in mid-September, he'll begin production of the fourth season of Doc. The first three seasons were filmed in Toronto, Canada, but Billy Ray hopes production will be moved to Tennessee so he can be closer to his wife and six children. As if Billy Ray's schedule isn't busy enough, he'll soon have an inspirational CD out on Word Records, and he has a few motion pictures in the works.