Back in the day when Nirvana t-shirts weren’t vintage relics, TV’s were far from flat, and movies weren’t a constant stream of sequels and reboots, Ty Herndon was making a name for himself in the world of Country music. He spent the next two decades singing around the world. Only, the world didn’t know him – truly. That is until five years ago in 2014 when Ty Herndon became the first major male country singer to come out. Now he’s representing not only who he is with pride, but helping others in the LGBTQ community along the way.
On top of talking to us about his amazing charitable work, Ty Herndon also opened up about his latest record, Got It Covered, out August 23. The record not only features newer versions of some of his older hits like “Living in a Moment” but reimagined versions of his favorite songs by other artists that he’s loved over the years. Now sit back and get to reading because we covered a lot with the one and only Ty Herndon.
Kendra; With each passing year, my favorite artists continue to sing their biggest hits and I stand there in the crowd wondering, are they tired of them yet? For you though, you’ve gotten to breathe new life into “What Matters Most” and “Living In A Moment.” Do you feel like that has made them more exciting to add to your setlist all these years later rather than like a necessity?
Ty Herndon: Oh wow…I have loved singing these songs for years now. When you can just stand there and have 15 thousand people sing every word back to you, it makes it pretty damn exciting. The new updated versions are also exciting. I can tell you the band loves it. They have been suggesting I breathe new life into these great songs for a while now. I’m glad I listened.
Kendra: Cover songs are some of my favorite and Got It Covered just doesn’t have reimagined versions of your own, but also some covers of other artists. How big was that initial list of songs you wanted to cover and how did you whittle it down?
Ty Herndon: I have always done covers in my show. I simply love a great song. And when I personally relate to it, It makes it so much fun to sing. When it came to Got It Covered, I loved the idea of doing some of my favorite singers and hero’s songs. I have worshiped Bonnie Raitt my entire life. Hands down best singer on the planet. Running a close second for me is Carrie.
I have a great story behind why I choose this song. We will reveal it two weeks before the album drops. It’s a huge part of my coming out story. I always laugh and say Marc Cohen has made so much money on “Walking In Memphis,” I mean my God, Cher alone probably bought him a new house. My version will most likely buy him a coffee. It freaking rocks. And you get the dance mix as well. The initial song list contained around 100 songs.
Kendra: Were there any covers that didn’t make the album, but may make it onto a setlist in the future?
Ty Herndon: As far as covers that I’m considering for the show – I’m taking it way back to the ‘70s and ‘80s. I recently did a pride festival and said names like Barbara Mandrell and Patsy Cline. The looks on some of the younger faces cracked me up. I think they thought I had lost my mind. However, as soon as they hear my version of Mandrell’s “You Can Eat Crackers In My Bed”, I’m thinking they will go look her up. I have already added Patsy”s “Crazy,” written by Willie Nelson. I’m doing a damn cool version of that one.
Kendra: For genres like hip hop and Country, LGBTQ artists have had to make larger strides for acceptance and in turn – so have fans of said genres. It’s like well, why would I like a type of music that doesn’t necessarily accept who I am? Do you feel like yourself and artists like Kacey Musgraves, who is an ally, are not only making major moves for artists in Country to be themselves but also fans of Country as well?
Ty Herndon: I love this question. I go and talk to a lot of kids around the United States. They one thing I hear constantly is this, “Why should I like country music— when it does not like me.” That breaks my heart, to tell you the truth. Fortunately with artists like Kacey Musgraves, Marren Morris, Michael Ray, Luke Bryan – the climate has drastically changed.
My buddy Brandon Stansell was the first artist to do a video about his coming out story. CMT added the video to their playlist. I thought that was incredibly brave of them to do. Also it was huge for Brandon. My buddy Brody Ray is also making waves. He is Country’s first trans artist. And of course none of us would be here without the bravery of my sister, Chely Wright. She is all our hero.
Kendra: Speaking of representing in Country, how was it playing LOVELOUD on a bill filled with rock and pop acts?
Ty Herndon: I have had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Dan Reynolds before. Man is he awesome. So humble and kind. I was thankful he stepped out and took a chance on a Country artist. The crowd loved it; I was thrilled. I have also become great friends with Steve and Barb Young. I was a huge fan of Steve Young growing up. They both have been such soldiers for the LGBT Mormon community. They are making the right kind of waves. I loved the show. One of my favorite bands is Neon Trees. It was magical to hang out with Tyler Glenn. He is also doing some amazing work.
Kendra: In recent years you’ve gone above and beyond with your philanthropy. What are some of your charitable goals you’ve set out for yourself this year?
Ty Herndon: I am loving living my most authentic life. I have lofty goals. Every year we do our Concert for Love and Acceptance during CMA Music Fest. We just sold out our fifth year.
I plan to take this brand on the road to major cities. This show is all about saving lives and changing hearts and minds. I have also written a really cool song with Paul Cardell and Joel Lindsay. The song is called “Some Kind of Wonderful.” Paul is a very popular concert pianist. I debuted it at LOVELOUD. All the proceeds will go towards that organization to help protect our youth. I’m also releasing three albums this year. Call me crazy but I’m having a blast.
Kendra: You’ve got a few shows coming up at the end of August and the start of September. What’s on the books after that?
Ty Herndon: I purposely have not toured as much as I did last year. I wanted to concentrate on new music and special projects. We are pithing a lot of stuff right now. With three new albums out by the end of the year. 2020 should be a very busy year. I can’t wait!