BWW INTERVIEW: At Home With Billy Gilman
Famous at the age of 11, Billy Gilman has had an illustrious career in the music industry that has featured chart-topping singles, Grammy Award nominations, sold-out concerts, legions of fans, and a trajectory-altering appearance on The Voice. Now 31, the popular singer-songwriter tours constantly and some of the venues where he finds joy in connecting to his fans are cabaret and club rooms like Joe's Pub. A welcome member to the cabaret community, Billy did not hesitate when I emailed, asking if he would like to have a digital chat with him about his time at home during the current state of affairs.
Name: Billy Gilman
First Cabaret Show (Title, Year, Club): Billy Gilman @JOES PUB 2019
Most Recent Cabaret Show: Billy Gilman @JOES PUB 2019
Billy, you just did your first streaming Living Room Concert on Facebook live - how did it feel?
I have to be honest, it was so weird. I was so overwhelmed with the people that tuned in and the viewership had. However, I now know I am a singer that totally feeds off of the audience in every capacity. It was so fun and different but I missed the spell we cast on each other in the house. I can't wait to do it again very soon.
For an artist with such a strong connection to your fans, was it strange to sing out into the internet without their energy coming back to you?
Haha! I literally just laughed out loud. I didn't see that this was the next question. Please refer to question 1
How are things at your house since the self-imposed lockdown?
Things are as normal as can be. It's a little maddening at times but grateful that everyone, for now, is okay. You drive by relative's homes and wave from windows. lol. Also, a new reality is the horrible snacking that has commenced. Some people had Freshman fifteen, I have COVID 19 (not the virus, the 19 pounds I've gained)
Your social media gives off the impression that you're the cook in your household - what have you been cooking up these last two weeks?
Yes. Cooking is such a passion of mine. I recently conjured up an avocado pesto. That seems to be a hit! Arugula, Basil, Avocado, Garlic, some delicious olive oil. Very tasty!
Do you come by your cooking skills naturally or did you have a teacher?
I would watch my mom and my grandmother. Literally pull a chair up and watch them chop and create their favorite dishes. I would also (and still do) read cookbooks from front to back on my travel days. I've always been fascinated with the art of cooking. I guess you could say it was natural.
You've been traveling a lot with your concert appearances - how are the audiences enjoying your new material?
I will tell you two things I have been discovering with these current shows. The fans have been loving the new material (in particular a new song that's yet to be released called Lonely) and they really have been loving my older songs in my new voice. I really have honored my past and dug up some of my older hits with my "adult voice" and the response has been unreal.
Are you getting to sing any Streisand in your shows? I know that's always been a dream of yours.
Oh yes. Periodically I will put in "Don't Rain On My Parade" or her great song from ASIB called "Everything". I love the words in Everything. It's very inspiring. Ordinary Miracles is always a song that goes over so well. As my vocal warm-up, along with my normal exercises, I will put on her latest version of Happy Days from "Walls" and do the "Get Happy" part under her. lol, I'm not a fan or anything.
How are you spending your time at home while being physically isolated?
I have been working via the office. Answering emails about moving forward with the concerts, rescheduling. Meetings with merch companies to start a merch section on my website. I've been really enjoying connecting with my fans via Cameo too! I've been pretty busy all things considered. Plus normal routine with some adjustments.
Are you doing any songwriting these days?
Constantly writing. Choruses, melodies, words. When I write I tend to write it down rather than type them on a computer. So I have so many little notes lying around.
What makes Bedknobs and Broomsticks the best classic Disney movie?
I love Angela Lansbury. I love how they would go from real life to animation. This was one of the very first Disney movies I remember watching as a kid. It's very nostalgic for me. Helen Reddy in Pete's Dragon is a close 2nd.
All photos provided by Billy Gilman, except top photo by Stephen Mosher