2019 ICMA Inspirational Bluegrass Artist of the Year. Former lead singer with Grammy award winning band Shenandoah. Nine #1 hits written and performed. Album “To Whom It May Concern”, has garnered five number one singles. Considered for the 2018 Grammy Awards.
Born in Lafayette, Louisiana in 1986, the 10th of 12 children, Billy Ryan Droze grew up in Alabama knowing that music was his life as far back as he can remember. “It’s as if I was inserted with a computer chip that made my life revolve around music.” But the reason is just as likely the influence of his father, Bob Droze, a dedicated country, gospel, and bluegrass musician, even now that he’s in his 80s. Billy was on stage with his dad by the time he was 4 years old, and spent his childhood singing with him everywhere from churches to bluegrass festivals to honky-tonks, developing a passion for traditional country, gospel, and roots music that has influenced him ever since. He learned to play guitar when he was 12, and as a teenager would perform anywhere, anytime, for anyone who would listen, sometimes walking miles down country roads, carrying his guitar, just for the chance to play a few songs.
By the time he was 16, Billy’s dad had moved on to Texas, so he followed him there and spent a year or so playing with his band. Then after rambling around Texas for a while, he decided it was time to move to Nashville, where he’s lived ever since. Continuing to play anywhere he could, and constantly honing his skills as a song smith and musician, Billy steadily expanded his ever-growing fan base, dramatically increased by several tours singing lead for Grammy-winning Shenandoah (using the name Billy Ryan).
Though signed by RCA/Sony BMG as an artist shortly after arriving in Nashville, that never developed into what he’d hoped for, since then Billy has also been a staff writer, with publishing deals that resulted in several good cuts that include “You Never Know” – Darryl Worley, “Free Again” Shenandoah, “That’s Why I Run” Billy Yates (#1 in Europe), “Sunday Clothes” – Randy Kohrs,”Big Pain” – Marty Raybon, “Bottle Was a Bible” – Junior Sisk, “Her Memory Again” (#5 Bluegrass Today Chart) – Flatt Lonesome, “Like I Do” – Jamie O’neil, “I Know Better” (#1 Bluegrass Today Chart) – The Grascals, among others.
In response to a family tragedy and the need for a change of scenery, Billy decided to expand his horizons by booking a thirteen-city, nine-country tour of Eastern Europe to promote his third independent album, “Ready For The Ride.” Extremely well-received by fans and reviewers alike, and earning him three #1 singles on the European Hot Disc charts, this tour also led him to Lithuania where he found his soul mate. And when he returned to the U.S. it was with his new wife, Marija (whose lovely voice blends perfectly with his) and their sons, Nicholas and Timothy. In addition, he has appeared in Country Weekly numerous times, as well as other magazines and Web sites in the US and Europe, and has had 4 major-network country music videos.
At only 31, Billy Droze has acquired the title of “hit songwriter” and has been touring and making music non-stop for more than a decade. This truly unique artist and highly prolific songwriter, with lyrics that dig deep into the heart of life, melodies and a guitar style that combine his traditional roots with a modern twist that’s all his own, and a voice so beautiful, earthy and sincere that every song gives you goose bumps, is just getting started.
To date, with his debut bluegrass record “To Whom It May Concern”, he has garnered an unprecedented five number one singles which is a feat unheard of and unmatched in his genre of music. Droze was considered for the prestigious 2018 Grammy Awards along with the IBMA and ICMA Awards. Together with bluegrass superstar Rhonda Vincent he hosted the 2018 ICMA Awards at the historic Grand Ole Opry House. His name is becoming synonymous among folk, Americana, country, and bluegrass listeners alike. Billy is one of the fastest rising stars in roots music of his generation.
Billy Droze is about to become a household name among lovers of bluegrass music. Remember, you read it here first.
Those working in our industry have recognized his talents for years, writing songs for The Grascals, Junior Sisk, Flatt Lonesome, Marty Raybon, and others. He has also penned songs recorded by country artists Darryl Worley, Shenandoah and Jamie O’Neil.
I Know Better, one Billy wrote with Chris Myers, made it to #1 for The Grascals earlier this year on the Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay Chart, and another, Her Memory Again, reached #5 for Flatt Lonesome. His second single off Rural Rhythm Rec. Reached number 5 last month. Nashville knows what this 31 year old music maker can do, and the rest of the bluegrass world is fixing to find out.
Rural Rhythm Records has released a single to radio from their upcoming project with Droze, co-produced by Billy with Ronnie Bowman. At this point only three songs have been completed, but the label couldn’t wait to get one out to the public via bluegrass radio.
Billy’s not just a clever songwriter; he can sing bluegrass and country with the best of them. His voice betrays his love of both genres, instilled as a child by his father, Bob “Red” Droze, who was a bluegrass, country, and Gospel artist. Red had recorded an album for Rural Rhythm back in 1962 under its original owner, Uncle Jim O’Neal, and had his son onstage with him by the time he was four.
The younger Droze followed his dad when he moved to Texas from Alabama, but left for Nashville to establish his own career not long afterward. There he has been writing and performing wherever he could, including a stint with country mega-band Shenandoah under the pseudonym Billy Ryan.
John Lawless Bluegrasstoday.com