Ty Herndon Reflects On Most Passionate Work, Inspiration To Share His Story

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Ty Herndon thought back to something his grandmother said.

“‘Put 1,000 hearts on the table, (and) you don’t see race, color (or) religion. You see 1,000 beautiful hearts that God made,’” Herndon quoted. He continued, “and in that, what do hearts do? They pump love. ...We’re born here with loving hearts, so, holding onto that’s important as we travel through this journey, this beautiful thing called life.”

Herndon recently spoke with iHeartRadio, shortly after holding the Concert for Love & Acceptance in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The history-making annual event returned earlier this month, teaming up with GLAAD to feature LGBTQ+ artists adt allies. This year’s lineup included Maddie & Tae, Terri Clark, Pam Tills, Desmond Child, Wendy Moten, Billy Gilman, Shelly Fairchild and Justin Fabus. That lineup joins a growing list of some of the biggest country stars who have been included in previous years, including Reba McEntire, Mickey Guyton, Brothers Osborne, Chely Wright, Lily Rose, Brett Young, Gavin DeGraw and many more, according to the Foundation For Love & Acceptance, which was created in 2020.

Herndon launched the music event in 2014, “when I let the world know a little bit more about me — I’m a vegetarian,” he told iHeartRadio with a laugh. Rather, he referred to “coming out as LGBTQ in country music,” becoming the first major male artist in the genre to do so. “I was fearful, but I had some great mentors around me. …But here’s the thing about it: I knew that I loved my job. I love country music. I’m a pig farmer from Alabama. So, you know, that’s what I do. But the reason I started this brand was to let a lot of kids out there know that this doesn’t identify you, you know? It’s a beautiful thing. It’s an addendum to your life.”

Often, when singer-songwriter hopefuls express their interest in moving to Nashville in pursuit of country music stardom, Herndon assures: “You know, your sexual orientation has nothing to do with this. I want you to treat it like Harvard. I want you to become the best singer…best songwriter, study songwriting, study the craft, and most of all, learn your history of country music. Have your favorites. Find your own influences. If you bring that to town, your educated, beautiful self, and the rest of it will fall in place.” Music written from a genuine perspective will “touch a lot of people and change lives.”

Herndon reflected on his grandmother’s perspective on loving others as he spoke about the Concert For Love & Acceptance, and his foundation that now also helps people detox. The country hitmaker and Soundboard with Ty Herndon podcast host (a show that's soon to debut in a talkshow format) strives to offer his support to others — whether it’s LGBTQ+ acceptance, mental health advocacy, helping others in their sobriety, and other “things that are very important to me” — while remaining open about his own journey. That includes telling his story through his latest album, Jacob.

The 11-track project includes Herndon’s latest single, “Dents On A Chevy,” bringing a nostalgic 90s country sound to life with fellow country star and longtime friend Terri Clark. It’s one of three duets to appear on the album, along with collaborations with Shelly Fairchild and Jamie Floyd, whose song “Lean In” is “now the theme song for the National Mental Health Association,” Herndon noted. “Just being able to brand this music is the most authentic thing I’ve ever done, and also have it be so well-received, it’s been magical.” Those collaborations are in addition to another with country artist Bryan Ruby on “The Standouts,” an LGBTQ+ anthem that released on June 1 to kick off Pride Month.

“My entire life inspired Jacob,” Herndon said as he shared the project’s story with iHeartRadio. “There’s not a song on this record called ‘Jacob,’ but I was talking to my spiritual counselor, mentor, and he said, …‘you know what? You know the story Jacob, in the Bible?’ I said, ‘yeah, I’m very familiar with it.’ He goes, ‘your story’s kind of like that. …God kind of crippled you a little bit, and in that, you became a leader of your tribe,’ and I looked at him… in a moment, I said, ‘now that’s a reason to do another album.’”

Now, the story Herndon looks forward to telling is a love story. He announced earlier this year that he’s engaged to now-fiancé, Alex, sharing that he has “met the person I know I’m gonna spend the rest of my life with.”

“…When you’re able to talk about (your journey) and get better — I’m getting married in August. I never thought in a million years that I could be this happy. So, you can bet your sweet country music butt that I’m gonna pay that forward,” Herndon laughed. “I don’t think I’ve ever said that before!”

Herndon plans to tie the knot this August in a stunning venue in Leiper's Fork, located in Williamson County, Tennessee, outside of Nashville. He told iHeartRadio that amid a year filled with wedding planning, his foundation and looking ahead to more music, he’s hopeful that some vacation time is around the corner, He quoted the legendary Loretta Lynn, though, who once said, “‘I’ll retire on this tour bus!’”

“But I know the work is solid,” Herndon said, particularly after talking about Soundboard. “That’s what’s important.”