WESTERLY — Billy Gilman, the true-blue, real deal, down-to-earth singing sensation who was the runner-up on "The Voice," NBC’s popular singing competition, a few years back, is gearing up for his next important show.
Gilman returns to the Knick next week for a show called "Just You – Just Me: The Intimate Sessions." It's a show, he said, that promises to be "up close and personal."
"I'm really excited about this show," said Gilman, the Hope Valley crooner. "And I love playing at the Knick. It's my first stop in Rhode Island."
"It's funny," said the 30-year-old former child country star who rocketed to fame in early 2000 with his debut album, "One Voice." "I'm generally not okay with an audience up that close, but at the Knick, it's different."
In a telephone interview earlier this week, Gilman, who has a dedicated and enormous local following, sounded relaxed, refreshed and ready to share what he calls his "authentic self" with his fans.
For so long, he said, he felt he had to "play a role." But now he's been able to "construct my own vision" and be his "authentic self."
"I'm totally me," he said with a slight laugh.
"I'll be debuting all new songs," he added, "all my new singles ... all my new material."
Gilman said there's one song in particular he's looking forward to singing, the song called "Soldier."
"The words are so great," he said, "and it's a timely song."
In a time when people are finally shedding a light on bullying and mental and emotional illnesses, said Gilman, we have to be soldiers for one another.
"I want to get behind the [anti-bullying] movement," he said, and offer hope and strength to those suffering with "emotional stress and anxiety."
Gilman said he also plans to sing "Oklahoma," "Red to Blue," — a song he co-wrote with a Nashville song writer — and "of course" a medley of the songs he performed on "The Voice," which included Adele’s "When We Were Young," and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s "Proud Mary" among others.
Gilman said he keeps in touch with his fellow contestants from "The Voice," and with Miley Cyrus, who was one of the judges on the show, along with Blake Shelton, Alicia Keys and Adam Levine.
"I've stayed close to Miley," he said, "She's so family oriented, and real. All her crazy is scheduled crazy. She knows what she's doing. We keep in touch."
With all the woes in the world these days, Gilman said he hopes to help people take a break and forget their troubles, if only for a little while.
"I hope people come in and forget ... if only for two hours," he said. "To dance, have fun and forget."
"I have been wanting to do a show like this for a very long time," said the star, who has sold five million albums worldwide and garnered awards and nods from the Grammys, ACMs, CMAs, Billboard Magazine, and the American Music Association, in a statement. "It’s just me and the audience and a list of songs that will make you laugh, make you cry, make you remember, and make you inspired. Let’s lock the doors and get down. Just you ... just me."