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To celebrate the 20th anniversary of his classic song about the ultimate war sacrifice, 'Some Gave All,' Billy Ray remakes the tune with Jamey Johnson, Darryl Worley and Craig Morgan. Billy Ray wrote the song in 1989 after talking with a Vietnam vet. It became the title track to his 1992 debut album which spent 17 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
The three were hand-picked by Billy Ray and producer Buddy Cannon. Adding meaning to the remake: Jamey was a member of the Marine Corps reserves for several years and Craig is a U.S. Army veteran.
"Each of those artists, I knew the heart and the soul that they would put into the song," Billy Ray tells The Boot during a private playback session for his new album at a studio in Glendale, Calif. "When they came in to sing the song, [they] didn't carry a lyric sheet into the vocal booth. They sung the song from their heart, they knew the words."
Billy Ray says he felt the trio did such an incredible job that he asked Buddy to take him off the record, although Buddy smartly declined to take him up on his offer. "They just sound so great. I hear them singing it and then I hear my little old voice in there and I go, 'I wish i could sing like those guys, they're awesome'," Billy Ray recalls. "Those three guys, they really, really take it to a whole new level."
Billy Ray is joined by Grammy winner Amy Grant on the stirring 'Stripes and Stars,' a tune about the sacrifices those who remain at home make while their loved ones go off to serve their country.
"There was one person I wanted on that record and that was Amy Grant, she was the right voice," Billy Ray says. "She does a lot of work for Wounded Warriors and [is] a big supporter for the military. Add in the fact that she just sings her butt off, I knew she would bring in that realism to 'Stripes and Stars'."
Billy Ray ran into Amy's husband Vince Gill and asked about Amy collaborating on the song. "Vince gave me her number and she came in and sang it with so much emotion and brought it so real, it was the perfect song for her," Billy Ray says.
'I'm American' comes out June 28 on Buena Vista Records. Its first single, 'Runway Lights,' will be released later this month.