Bill Gentry

By Bob Doerschuk

© 2012 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

Rather than flow in one direction, similar to a storyline in a single song, Bill Gentry’s life has veered in a dozen directions. The son of a minister who died when he was 2, Gentry won the state 4-H performance contest, got kicked out of his high school band, was kidnapped along with two of his colleagues in a rock band, served as president of his junior college class, ran for city council, launched a successful data-compiling company, interned for Sen. Sam Nunn in Washington, was lovingly told by his sister that she never wants to sing with him again and most recently founded and ran Wild Bill’s, the huge and successful Country venue near Atlanta.

In that last incarnation, Gentry booked many of the biggest acts in the business. Though he’d never really stopped playing, being witness to great shows night after night rekindled Gentry’s determination to aim for his own place in the spotlight too.

He does so on his single, “Hell and Half of Georgia.” Written by Doug Johnson and Tim James, released on Oct. 22, its laid-back soulful groove, simmering gospel feel (think: “People Get Ready,” especially on the verses, with guitar licks borrowed from Tony Joe White) and images of paying dues as a musician suggest a deeply personal connection to Gentry’s life. And his singing, yearning with sweet pain, makes that suggestion beyond doubt.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

DREAM DUET PARTNER
“Dolly.”

FAVORITE FOOD ON THE ROAD
“Waffle House.”

WHAT YOU’D BE IF NOT AN ARTIST
“Governor of Georgia.”

MOMENT YOU’D LIKE TO RELIVE
“The opening night of Wild Bill’s – there were 5,000 people there!”

FIRST GIG
“My fifth-grade talent show. I took second place. Dang baton twirler!”

SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
“I am a clean freak.”

On the Web: BillGentryNation.com

On Twitter: @BillGentry

Source: Country Music Association

Bill Gentry Photo by Traci Goudie / Provided by Country Music Association

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