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Biography #2

Billy Ray was born and raised in Flatwoods, Kentucky. When he was five, he made his singing debut in his father's gospel group and in 1981 formed his own band, Sly Dog. Later on, Billy Ray and Sly Dog landed a job as the house band in a lounge in West Virginia while making frequent trips to Nashville in the hopes of finding musical success. He was discovered by Mercury talent scouts in 1990 while opening for a Reba McEntire concert in Louisville.

In 1992, the simple but immensely catchy Achy Breaky Heart was released. Instantly, the Cyrus virus proved infectious, and the video for the song introduced the nation to the incredibly popular line dance The Achy Breaky. The song topped both the U.S. Pop and Country charts and was easily the most successful country single released worldwide in 1992.

Billy Ray's album Some Gave All also topped the U.S. Pop and Country charts in 1992 and produced another transatlantic hit, Could've Been Me. All in all, this history-making debut album sold over 14 million copies worldwide and held the #1 position on both Billboard Country and Pop charts for 17 incredible weeks, a record which remains unbroken. In 1993, Billy Ray proved himself with his follow up album It Won't Be The Last, which again earned Billy Ray another platinum record and #1 single In The Heart Of A Woman. Billy Ray's 1996 album, Trail Of Tears, garnered widespread critical acclaim and a Single of The Year award from the TNN/Music City News Country Awards voters.

Recently, Cyrus signed a long-term recording agreement with Sony Music's Monument Records, and his debut album, Southern Rain, is in stores now. The first single, You Won't Be Lonely Now, enjoyed great success on country radio, while the video for the song was one of the most requested on CMT for eight straight weeks. We The People, the working people's anthem from Southern Rain became the campaign theme song for President George W. Bush during his 2000 election campaign.

Additionally, Bill Ray Cyrus has been no stranger to movie and television screens during the course of his career. He starred in the 1999 independent film Radical Jack and also enjoyed roles in the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive (which recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival) and the New Line Cinema feature film Wish You Were Dead with Christopher Lloyd and Carrie Elswick. His television credits include The Nanny, Diagnosis Murder, Love Boat, The Next Wave, and TNN's 18 Wheels Of Justice. Billy Ray has even been the subject of many television specials that detail his rise to fame and his extraordinary career. These include two ABC documentaries, Dreams Come True and A Year On The Road, a VH-1 exclusive, as well as the TNN specials I Give My Heart To You, and The Life and Times of Billy Ray Cyrus.

His mantle is covered with awards and accolades from various organizations, but the ones he's most proud of aren't connected to his music. In 1999, he received the International Entertainment Buyer Association's Humanitarian of the Year Award for his tireless philanthropic work. His charitable efforts have been recognized by the Country Radio Broadcasters, who honored him with their Artist Humanitarian Award, and by the Kennedy Center Honors, which recognized him for his work with children. He also received the first ever Bob Hope Congressional Medal of Honor Society Entertainer's Award for his dedication to philanthropy.

Billy Ray and his wife Leticia ('Tish') married December 28, 1993. They live with their five children on a 500-acre farm in Singing Hills, outside of Nashville, Tennessee. In his spare time, Billy Ray enjoys lifting weights, riding his four-wheeler and horseback riding.

Bio courtesy PAX (15-Apr-2003)


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