STRAIGHT TO THE HEART

Ask Billy Currington how things have been for him since the release of his heart-tugging "Walk a Little Straighter" - already a Top 20 hit and the first single from his self-titled debut album - and he doesn't have to think long.

"Life is good!" grins the 29-year-old Georgia native. "I'm doing so many different things. Sometimes I'm playing shows by myself in a conference room, and sometimes I'm playing for huge crowds with my band. We played one outdoor show in Kansas City where Clay Walker was the headliner and it looked like there were 80,000 people there! You look down off the stage and you're just thankful for what's goin' on."

And Billy has plenty of other reasons to be thankful. Not only does he have a hit record that he co-wrote, he's also getting touching feedback from fans concerning the poignant song that sprang from his tough childhood dealing with his own alcoholic father.

"I had a really neat experience when I was at a radio station in Phoenix," recalls Billy quietly. "A 13-year-old girl called and said, 'I just want to tell you how much I love your song, and I wanted to know if you'd play it for me. Because my daddy's that way ... he drinks a lot. Matter of fact, he's drunk right now.'

"And I said, 'Sure, I'll play it for you right now.'

"She said, 'Hold on, hold on. Let me run get my daddy. I want him to hear it.'

"So I played the song live for her. The station recorded it and played it back later. I'm sure her dad got to hear that and hear his daughter talkin' about him. I hope it changed somebody's life."

One thing's for sure, the song has definitely changed Billy's life. It's brought him closer to realizing his dream of building his grandmother in Georgia a log house in the Nashville area so she can live near him. And, as he plans for the release of his second single, "I Got a Feelin'," he's loving every minute of the success he's earned with his very special first hit.

"It's just great," he confesses. "So many neat experiences. I'm very grateful."

Story by David Scarlett

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