Country Music Star Performs at BC By Trey Wilson | November 18, 2011 | RSS Grammy Award-winning country music singer Billy Dean performed his hit songs and personal favorites in an acoustic concert at Bluefield College on Nov. 3 as part of the Blue Mountain Performing Arts Series. Fans of all ages came to Harman Chapel to see the performance from Dean, who has been on the national country music scene for more than 20 years. “It’s cool that a big-time guy like Billy Dean came into a little place like this to sing for us country folks,” said Will Lowe, a freshman at BC. “I remember listening to the song “Billy the Kid” when I was a kid. His songs make you feel good.” Billy Dean Performing in Harman Chapel Dean said he takes pride in having fans of his music that span multiple generations. “I try to make music that is timeless,” said Dean. “That’s the goal. I’m not saying that I’ve done a lot of that, but I’ve got a few that might be timeless. You try to make something that is real and authentic.” Dean opened the set with some of his early hits, including “Only Here for a Little While,” “Billy the Kid,” and “Only the Wind.” After a ten-minute intermission, Dean returned to the stage and played piano-driven versions of his hits “Somewhere in My Broken Heart” and “If There Hadn’t Been You.” He finished the set with songs from some of his songwriting colleagues and some of his newer songs, including “The Christ” and his most recent Top 40 hit “Let Them Be Little,” a song Dean co-wrote with former Lonestar front man Richie McDonald. While Dean normally performs with a full band, his current tour is a solo acoustic tour. He plays guitar on most of the songs and showcases his piano ability on some. Playing acoustic sets allows him to demonstrate not only his abilities as a singer and songwriter, but also his talents as a musician. “People have seen me in concert with a band and they don’t realize that there’s these other parts of me,” said Dean. “The musician in me comes out in these acoustic shows. I get a chance to read the audience a little bit and I can play anything and everything I want to play on the spot without being tied to a band that doesn’t know it or hasn’t rehearsed it. So you get to see the singer, the songwriter, and the musician in these shows.” His assorted musical talents came from diverse musical upbringing. “My dad really got me started singing at an early age and really turned me on to the country music crooners like Marty Robbins, and Jim Reeves, and Merle Haggard,” said Dean. “As I became a teenager, I was learning music by James Taylor and the Eagles and learning that stuff on the guitar.” As a baritone singer, Dean said a lot of the popular pop-rock songs were in keys that he could not sing. “I never could sing along to rock ‘n’ roll music because the guys could sing so high,” said Dean. “I was a baritone and I could sing along to country music. That was pretty much what led me there.” While he had a voice for country music, it was ultimately the relatable lyrics and meaning in the genre that led him to make a career in it. “I think country music, you can grow up with it, or you can grow old with it,” said Dean. “It’s the story telling. It’s the superb song writing talent that it takes to put these lyrics together. Country music is mostly about the lyric. [Country music writers] are just amazing tunesmiths.” Dean said that learning rock guitar while having a voice and lyric writing style suited for country music made him the diverse performer he is today. “The musician in me and the singer in me were like two different people,” said Dean. “When I started writing songs, it started coming together, this cross-section of genres started meshing together, and I came up with my own kind of music, which is usually pretty passionate. Just being a musician, learning one style of music, and being a singer singing a different style, it just came together.” Along with acoustic performances, Dean’s current tour consists of community concerts in local theaters like BC’s Harman Chapel. “I like to perform in old theaters because I don’t have a lot of outstanding things to compete with,” said Dean. “It’s not daytime. There are not a lot of distractions. The attention is focused on the stage. They usually have great lights, great sound, and they usually have a beautiful piano.” During the sets, Dean tells humorous stories from his past and gives insight on the backgrounds of his songs. He said his concerts are a performing art. “I do feel like the one man show that I do is an art form that I’ve sort of championed,” said Dean. “The one-man troubadour. I think it belongs on those kinds of stages. I was so pleased that the community concert establishment has championed the arts to keep culture and arts alive in the communities.” The local community concert group that hosted this concert was Blue Mountain Performing Arts, a non-profit organization in its 76th season of providing the Bluefield community with quality music performances in an attempt to foster and encourage public appreciation of music, the teaching of music, and the history of music. The next event in the Blue Mountain Performing Arts Series will be a concert at Harman Chapel featuring Andrew McKnight & Beyond Borders on Nov. 19 at 7:30. Other events in the 2011-2012 Blue Mountain Performing Arts season include the Golden Dragon Acrobats on Feb. 28 at the Chuck Mathena Center in Princeton, W.Va., and Camerata Virtuousi New York on Apr. 28 at First United Methodist Church in Bluefield, Va. For information about the Blue Mountain Performing Arts Series, including season ticket information, contact chairman Bryant Moxley at 276-326-4248. For more information on Billy Dean, visit his website at BillyDean.com.