NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Billy Ray Cyrus’ life has seen a lot of upheaval in the past year. He nearly got divorced, endured public scrutiny of his daughter Miley’s behavior and a resulting backlash over his parenting, and saw the end of “Hannah Montana,” the Disney phenomenon that changed the Cyruses lives forever.
But even though Cyrus has lived out his drama in the tabloids, he believes everyone can identify with his struggles.
“I’ve been through a lot,” Cyrus said. “That being said, I think people around the world can look at my life and say, ‘That guy is kind of just like us — peaks and valleys, ups and downs. That’s what I’ve lived. Somewhere along the line, I think I just realized that the key to life for me and for everybody on this planet, it’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up. Everybody has adversities. Everybody has crossroads.”
That’s especially true of members of the military, who have been on Cyrus’ mind since the early days of his career. He salutes them on his new album, “I’m American,” out Tuesday. He offers seven new songs on the Buddy Cannon-produced “I’m American” and a remake of “Some Gave All,” the title track to his multi-platinum debut album that also included his breakthrough, “Achy Breaky Heart.” That remake includes appearances by Jamey Johnson, Craig Morgan and Darryl Worley.
“Three guys that not only are they veterans themselves, but they also just sing with their voices and the power and the realism that they put into the song. For me as the writer, to hear them sing it was just absolutely an awesome experience,” Cyrus said.
Cyrus, who also hosts TLC’s new military-themed show “Surprise Homecoming,” has performed regularly for troops overseas, visited military hospitals, and says those who serve are never far from his thoughts. He said the idea for the album started with one of his trips to a combat zone.
“It was during a performance in Afghanistan on ‘Some Gave All’ when some bombs went off in the background, a young soldier stood up and said, ‘Keep going Mr. Cyrus. We’re used to it,”’ Cyrus said. “At that moment, I knew that I felt like I was going to come back and record ‘Some Gave All’ and start an entire album on a concept that was based solely on taking my hat off and saluting ou r troops.”
AP writer Caitlin R. King in Nashville contributed to this report.