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Reba McEntire, Keith Urban + More Unite for Charity Single ‘The Choice’

Reba McEntire, Keith Urban
Mike Moore / Jason Merritt, Getty Images

In 2000, young singer Billy Gilman exploded onto the music scene as a 12-year-old with a killer voice and the musical chops to take him places. He released a debut record called ‘One Voice,’ sold more than 2 million copies and then had to take a step back from the industry when puberty put a crimp in his vocal style. Now, almost 12 years later, Gilman has found his voice again, and he’s choosing to use it for the sake of others.

In true ‘We Are the World’ collaborative style, Gilman gathered up 18 of country music’s top names to sing on a song called ‘The Choice,’ which he co-wrote with songwriters Dan Murph and Philip Douglas to benefit Soles4Souls. The charitable organization works to provide shoes to people across the world who don’t have any. Gilman says he didn’t even realize all the limitations of not having shoes until he familiarized himself with the organization.

“I couldn’t imagine not having a pair of shoes, not just for the sake of being comfortable and looking cool, but I never thought until I got really involved that shoes enable you to get a job,” he said (quote via CBS). ”It really is more than giving a pair of shoes so the kid can look hip and cool. It’s a way of life.”

To help change that life for people across the world, Gilman didn’t hold back when asking celebrity singers to get involved in the cause. The stars who eagerly got on board include Reba McEntire, Keith Urban, Alan Jackson, LeAnn Rimes, Rodney Atkins, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Montgomery Gentry, Steve Holy, Wynonna Judd, Richie McDonald, Ronnie Milsap, Craig Morgan, Kellie Pickler, Diamond Rio, Randy Travis, Josh Turner and even Kenny Rogers, who was involved in the original ‘We Are the World’ recording.

“It’s amazing to see the camaraderie,” said Gilman, explaining that artists like Urban and Rimes responded to his request immediately, saying, “Tell me when.” Gilman is hoping to send half a million shoes across the world with sales and donations resulting from the song. The song is available for download on iTunes now, and the full music video premieres on CMT April 16.

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