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Country star Billy Currington to perform Welcome Week concert
Billy Currington, from "Summer Forever" album cover

JOHNSON CITY (Aug. 1, 2016) – Award-winning country artist Billy Currington will perform the Welcome Week concert at East Tennessee State University on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Georgia native Currington has scored nine No. 1 singles since the release of his self-titled debut album on Mercury Records in 2003.  His hits include “Good Directions,” “Let Me Down Easy,” “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right,” “People Are Crazy,” “That’s How Country Boys Roll,” “Hey Girl” and “We Are Tonight.”

His accolades include the “Hottest Video of the Year” honor at the fan-voted CMT Music Awards for “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” in 2006.  That same year, he received an Academy of Country Music nod for “Top New Male Vocalist.”  “Party for Two,” his hit duet with Shania Twain, earned nominations from both the ACM and Country Music Association. 

The single “People Are Crazy” took Currington’s career to another level, earning Grammy nominations for “Male Country Vocal Performance” and “Best Country Song,” as well as CMA nominations for “Single of the Year” and “Song of the Year.”

Currington, who recently released his sixth studio album, “Summer Forever,” has come a long way from his rural Georgia roots.  He spent his early years on Tybee Island before his family moved inland to Rincon.  He grew up listening to vinyl records by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers, and when his mom took him to one of Rogers’ concerts, 10-year-old Billy knew immediately that he wanted to someday be the one on stage performing. 

However, he was not sure how he was going to get there.  “To be honest, I never even heard of Nashville ‘til I was 17 or 18,” he said.

All that changed when Currington’s pastor recognized his talent while he was singing in church and decided to give the youngster some career guidance.

“He had been living in Nashville at one point,” Currington recalled.  “He said, ‘Man, there’s a town called Nashville (where) you can get a record deal.  Your dreams could come true.  I’m going to take you there.’ So he took me and showed me the town.  He introduced me to people.  When I got back home, I totally made up my mind that when I graduated from high school, I was going to go back.”

And so he did.  He made the move to Music City and began “paying his dues” by pouring concrete and working as a personal trainer at a gym during the day while getting a musical education playing in bars at night.  He met other aspiring songwriters and artists.  He began writing songs, and his warm, strong voice made him one of the town’s most in-demand demo singers.

“I was doing 10 demos a day,” he said.  “Before you know it, I started getting deal offers from record labels.”

After signing with Mercury, he immediately garnered attention with his debut single, “Walk a Little Straighter.”  The autobiographical song about life with his alcoholic stepfather peaked at No. 8, and was followed by his first top five hit, “I Got a Feelin’.” 

Though Currington has grown in knowledge and confidence, his goal in making “Summer Forever” was the same as when he recorded his debut album. 

“Music is a snapshot of people’s lives, and most of all, I want to leave people in a happy place,” he says.  “Whether they’re sitting on a beach listening to this album or they’re walking around their house or cleaning their house or whatever – wherever they’re at listening to this album, I want to leave them with a happy and peaceful feeling.”

This Welcome Week Major Concert, sponsored by ETSU’s Student Government Association, begins at 7:30 p.m. on the lawn of ETSU’s Wayne G. Basler Center for Physical Activity.  Gates will open at 6:30 p.m., and the Ticket Office/Will Call opens at 4 p.m.

Current ETSU students may each receive one free ticket and purchase up to four discounted tickets ($15 each) with valid ID beginning Aug. 22.  ETSU staff and faculty may purchase up to four discounted tickets ($15 each) with valid ID beginning Aug. 24.  Public tickets go on sale for $25 each on Monday, Aug. 8, and may be purchased online only.  Day of show tickets will be $30 at the gate.  There will be no charge for parking at ETSU.  Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs, but no umbrellas.

For public tickets and complete concert information, visit www.etsu.edu/concerts

The first day of fall classes is Aug. 22, and Welcome Week provides a full schedule of special activities from Aug. 21-29 to help new and returning students feel at home, make new friends and get into the swing of the semester.  To see a listing of events, visit www.etsu.edu/students/nsfp/welcomeweek.php.

For more information, call the Student Organization Resource Center at 423-439-6633.  For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.

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