Billy The Kid – Billy Droze

There’s a reason why Billy Droze is one of the most respected musicians in bluegrass today. Music has been his motivating force as far back as he can remember. A son of the south who was born in Lafayette, Louisiana and grew up in Alabama, he inherited his love of traditional music from his father, Bob Droze, a respected country, gospel, and bluegrass musician who still performs even now in his 80s. Droze got his first stage experience performing onstage with his dad at the age of four, and began singing in churches, festivals, and honky-tonks very early on. He began playing guitar at age twelve, and when he eventually moved to Nashville, he got his first break while singing lead for the Grammy-winning band, Shenandoah.

At the same time, he made his name as a hit songwriter, having been responsible for chart-toppers by Daryl Worley, Shenandoah, Marty Raybon, Junior Sisk, Flatt Lonesome, The Grascals, and Jamie O’Neil, among the many. He also scored several hits on his own, particularly in Europe where he met and married his wife Marija. However he wasn’t forgotten here at home. He was nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award, and honored with recognition from the IBMA and ICMA as well. He’s also the president of his own record label, RBR Entertainment.

Inevitably though, it’s the music that matters, and with his latest release, Billy the Kid, he reaches a new level of artistic expression, courtesy of 14 songs that span an array of emotion and ideas. As Droze himself states in the liner notes, “This album is intentional, and made with a goal in mind to encompass every angle of my artistry.” 

The fact that he succeeds so decidedly is a credit to both his verve and versatility. With an all-star cast that includes his wife Marija on harmony vocals, Jason Roller on fiddle and vocal harmonies, Greg Martin on upright bass, James Seliga playing mandolin and acoustic guitar, Mike Sumner on banjo, Josh Matheny on dobro, Josh Swift contributing dobro, harmonies, mixing, and mastering, Stephen Burrell sharing fiddle, mixing, and mastering, and Tim Crouch on fiddle, percussion, bass, and strings, Droze makes good use of his resources and allows every song to stand out. Every song boasts its own significance, be it the tender tones of The Day I Died, Starting To Rain, The Gospel According To Me, Leave Without Saying Goodbye, and Run, the insistent sounds if Clouds Keep On Cryin‘ and the title track (featuring Billy Dean on guest vocals), the rousing delivery of Cry My Life Away, Yesterday and Sweet Gal of Mine, or the positive assurance found in It’s Ok To Be Ok and Old Friends

That’s not to say he doesn’t occasionally find need for a novelty song like Chicken Truck, which features shared singing from John Anderson, Shawn Camp, and Ronnie Bowman. Then again, the original Billy the Kid always did things his own way. So too, this particular Kid tends to deliver with distinction as well.

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About the Author

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman has been a writer and reviewer for the better part of the past 20 years. He writes for the following publications — No Depression, Goldmine, Country Standard TIme, Paste, Relix, Lincoln Center Spotlight, Fader, and Glide. A lifelong music obsessive and avid collector, he firmly believes that music provides the soundtrack for our lives and his reverence for the artists, performers and creative mind that go into creating their craft spurs his inspiration and motivation for every word hie writes.