Song of the Year

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 10, 2009

Country music ‘Song of Year’ enjoyed radio play on ‘Yokel’

By Jason C. Mattox

The man responsible for first playing ACM Song of the Year “In Color” on radio is a Batesville resident and will be serving as the Friday, May 15 headliner for SpringFest.

That man is Billy Grantham.

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Grantham, employed as a civil engineer with Mendrop-Wages, is a graduate of South Panola High School who left his comfort zone of Panola County to pursue a dream in country music, met and played with several musicians while in Music City, including Jamey Johnson.

Johnson’s new single “In Color” this week won “Song of the Year” at the ACM Awards, defeating more well-known artists like George Strait, Brad Paisley and Trace Adkins.

ACM is the Academy of Country Music.

“I remember the first time I saw Jamey at a writer’s night,” Grantham said. “I watched his performance, and I remember thinking he was the real deal.”

Grantham said he and Johnson swapped numbers and played some gigs together in Nashville.

Grantham left Nashville for DeSoto County before Johnson began enjoying record company support and radio play.

“I was setting up for a show in DeSoto County and heard his first single, ‘The Dollar,’ on the radio,” Grantham said.

“When I first heard it, I thought it sounded like Jamey, and it was.”

“I called him and we talked for a few minutes afterwards,” he added.

Grantham, one of Ricky Swindle’s Local Yokels, performed “In Color” live at WBLE as part of the 5th Anniversary show.

“I went in and did the song for that show because I wanted to do something people hadn’t heard,” he said. “It’s really cool to know that it was played here before the song got released to radio.”

Grantham said it is the support of Swindle and his now six-year-old radio show that has helped him continue to follow his dream.

“I have been given the opportunity to open up for people like Trace Adkins and Travis Tritt, and that has been a lot of fun,” he said. “But people really don’t know how much Ricky has done to support the musicians in this area. If he ever needs anything, he knows he can call any one of us.”

Grantham will bring his style of country music to the SpringFest stage this year, and he promises a mix of covers, originals and some gospel.

“I am going to perform some original material, but there will be a mix of songs that people have heard before,” Grantham said.

This will be The Billy Grantham Band’s first headlining appearance.

“I’m not promising that we will be swinging on ropes or shooting off canons, but I can promise there will be some good music and people will have every opportunity to have a good time,” Grantham said.