Billy Ray Cyrus: The Family Business

Billy Ray Cyrus juggles his roles as country star, actor and the proud dad of TV’s Hannah Montana

In the Sept. 10 issue of Country Weekly you’ll find a feature story in which Billy Ray Cyrus discusses his new album, Home at Last; his tenure on the ABC TV show Dancing With the Stars; and his role as the fictional and real-life dad to Miley Cyrus of the Disney Channel hit Hannah Montana. Here are a few more exclusive excerpts from our conversation with Billy Ray that don’t appear in the magazine.

HOW HE JUGGLES SO MANY PROJECTS
“I just eliminated one aspect of my life, and it’s enabled me to keep up with everything: sleep! I took that out, and now I’ve got time. I sure would love to go lay down in the bed right now and just turn the air conditioner down real cold, but I ain’t got time anymore. That’s the No. 1 thing I’m missing out on the most, is sleep. It’s OK—I’ll sleep later, when I’m dead.”

ON DANCING WITH THE STARS
“Somehow or other throughout that Dancing With the Stars thing, I represented those who can’t dance. Obviously! Way more than I ever dreamed. I look back and, as embarrassing as it was, I am really glad I did Dancing With the Stars.”

ON MILEY’S TV DEBUT
“The child had been coming out onstage with me since she was big enough to walk and talk and sing. She walked out on the Ralph Emery show [Nashville Now] one time pushing a baby carriage with a Willie Nelson doll—well, it was like a cross between Willie and Chucky. It was something one of the fans had made. She loved that Willie Nelson doll. Carl Perkins was sitting beside me. He patted my leg and said, ‘You’ve got you a star right there.’”

WHAT PEOPLE SAY TO HIM ON THE STREET
“I hear a whole lot of ‘There’s Miley’s dad. There’s Robby Ray.’ ‘We love Hannah Montana!’ I also get a lot of, ‘Oh, we loved you on Dancing With the Stars.’ Then there’s that five percent that comes up and says, ‘Man, I saw you in Seattle back in 1992. “Achy Breaky Heart” turned me on to country music, and I’ve been a country music fan ever since.’”

ON RECORDING SEVERAL CLASSIC POP SONGS FOR HOME AT LAST
“It’s the moment of the album that’s just for the fun of it. If you know the words, sing along. If you can dance, dance. It was just the way it was meant to be.”

ON THE INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCE
“I’m sorry if this offends anybody, but I don’t just look at the United States as the target for country music. I’ve been around the world, and I know that country music fans are around the world. You go out and develop fans in Europe and Australia and New Zealand and South Africa, and those fans will be very loyal as long as they can continue to identify with it.”

ON THE STATE OF COUNTRY MUSIC
“Right now is a great time for country music. There’s a lot of great artists out there. There’s a lot of good ideas, and a lot of innovation and creativity. I think country music hit an all time low in the mid-‘90s, when everything sounded the same and looked the same. Everything, all musical styles, goes in circles. Everything that goes around comes back around. But to do that, sometimes something has to go down into the valley so that it can go back up to the peaks. I feel like country music’s in a prime position to peak right now. I’m excited about the chance of being a part of it, because I love country music. I love it, I want to be part of it, and I think I’ve got the right record. I’m hoping they’ll let me pitch in there and do my fair share, because I want to be part of the family.”

ON MAKING MUSIC
“That will always be a very big part of my life. No matter what happens, I’ll always be making music somewhere. The intangible part is, will there always be somebody there to listen? If they are, that’s great. But I love making music, I love writing songs, and I’m sure I’ll do it ‘til the day I die, because that’s just who I am.”

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