Dean restarts career after choosing family over fame

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 21, 2006

In 1992, he won the title as the Academy of Country Music’s Songwriter of the Year and the New Male Vocalist of the Year.

In 1993, he won two BMI awards, one CMT award and the TNN Songwriter award. Three years later, he topped it all off with a Grammy.

But straying from his sting of televised award show appearances, Billy Dean came to Demopolis, Ala., in 2006 as part of his one-week, five-stop Wal-Mart tour to promote his album and Dr. Pepper, the soft drink that works closely with Curb Records.

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“It works out well this way because you can get the product from the grocery section and go buy the CD in electronics,” he laughed. “This way fans can clear the shelves and make room for my new album, which will be kind of a greatest hits, that will be released in June or July.”

From the moment he arrived in the building, fans including Wal-mart employees and their family members, were waiting to get pictures and autographs from the artist, who recently released his first album in seven years since “retiring to be a full-time dad” to his two children.

“I made the decision between my career and my family,” Dean said about the choice that worked in his favor by giving him the idea for his title track “Let Them Be Little.” “This CD is all about empowering children. I love kids and I feel like I am finding my significance in life by making music and associating it with organizations that support them.”

After the meet and greet session with employees, Dean graced the stage in the produce isle to perform singles, new and old, for the gathered crowd.

And even though Dean had seen many places from his travels during concert tours and movie and television locations, the artist said he had never seen a place like West Alabama.

“I’m from the Florida Panhandle, but what’s been great about this is I am touring in areas I don’t get to see. I would love to come back and do a concert here. They’ve been great to me and it’s just too much food,” he said with a million-dollar smile. “I drove from Nashville to Demopolis. It was interesting going through Selma. This tour is giving me a lot of good song ideas.”