Billy Ray Cyrus Says Winning a CMA for a Controversial Song ‘Perfectly Describes My Journey’
Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X's brand-new trophy for Musical Event of the Year marks Cyrus' first CMA Awards win since 1992, when he won Single and Music Video of the Year for "Achy Breaky Heart." To put things into perspective, that's a 27-year gap between wins for Cyrus, and the last time he brought home an award, Lil Nas X wouldn't be born for another seven years!
However, Cyrus says the unconventional path he took back to the CMA Awards stage makes perfect sense, given the kind of artist he's always been. "Dolly Parton was the one who said early on, 're-invention,'" Cyrus told press on Wednesday night (Nov. 13), standing alongside Lil Nas X. "When we accepted our trophies, the first person I thanked was Bob Iger and Disney, and Hannah Montana."
Cyrus thought back to the years when he acted on television show Hannah Montana, portraying single father Robby Ray Stewart. "Because little did I know, while I was sitting back being Robby Ray ... There was a little boy who had big dreams in Atlanta. And 10 years later, our paths would cross, and because of Hannah Montana, he said, 'Can anybody get this song to Billy Ray Cyrus?'" he recalled. "So for me, in a lot of ways, it was just a reminder: Do the best you can do, do what you do because you love it. And you never know who's watching."
"Old Town Road" has had a famously controversial rise to megastardom, but Cyrus goes on to say that that aspect of the two artists' win also fit perfectly into the patterns his artistic career has always followed.
"It's perfect for my career, the fact that the award that I win...was for a song that was banned," he mused. "I think that best describes my journey. I do my own thing, make my own music, my own style. Johnny Cash said to me once, 'Don't live your life trying to fit in the box, don't try to fit outside the box -- live like there is no box.'"
Cyrus gives credit to Lil Nas X for finding new ways to follow Cash's timeless advice. "That's one thing that Lil Nas brought to the table in his thinking," he said. "There are no rules, no limits, no pre-conceived notions. Music is music, and it's all about the fans. 'Old Town Road' was the fans' song, the people's song. It really was."
Lil Nas X added that despite the controversy that came along with his debut into country music, he has found a lot of joy in being included at the genre's awards shows. "I'm happy to go to any awards show, of course," he stated. "Just to be here at this point in my life, [after] not knowing where I was gonna go to last year. It's amazing any time I'm invited anywhere. And there's so much positivity in this community, too. So I love it."
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