WINSLOW, Ariz. — Forget the sausage.
Billy Dean shares a name with another famous Dean who made a name in country music. Beyond that, there’s no family connection.
“That shows that you can’t trust Wikipedia,” Billy Dean said about his supposed relationship to Jimmy Dean, country superstar and founder of Jimmy Dean Sausage Co. “I knew Jimmy. In fact I’ve got a couple of letters from Jimmy. After I won a couple of awards, just as a joke, he sent me a letter congratulating me and signed it, ‘Love, Dad.’”
Several websites state that Jimmy was Billy’s uncle. It’s just not true.
“We talked about it,” Billy said. “We really looked to see if we were related, but we’re not. His family and my family were just from two different parts of the country. Somebody put that on Wikipedia, but I’d like to clear the record on it: He was a good friend, but no relation.”
Regardless of his heritage, Billy Dean will pay a visit to central Nebraska to perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Minden Opera House in Minden. Tickets for the show are $30.
Dean said this tour feels different to him.
“It’s a one-man show,” he said. “My shows are part of a community concert series. It’s usually coupled with an artist outreach time at local schools. I love it. People show up eager to listen, and a lot of the shows are sold out. There’s a lot of community support. That’s the perfect audience for what I do.”
Dean recorded his first top-five Hit, “Only Here for a Little While,” in 1990. He earned numerous awards throughout his career, including The Academy of Country Music’s Song of the Year for “Somewhere in My Broken Heart,” ACM New Male Vocalist of the Year, BMI Pop awards, Country Music Television Rising Star Award and NSAI Song of the Year.
In 1996, Dean received a Grammy for “Amazing Grace.”
Toss in acting roles in movies with the likes of Dolly Parton, appearances on talk shows and even a role on the daytime soap opera, “One Life to Live,” — and Dean was headed for the big time. Was.
“It was great,” he recalled. “It was sort of a star-making machine primping me for superstardom. The thing was, I really wasn’t a good actor. But I learned a lot. If anything, it made me a better recording artist.”
Finally Dean rejected the path laid out in front of him.
“Acting can wreak havoc on your own center — your sense of who you are. You’re really exploring true, honest feelings, and you’ve got to do that around a bunch of lights and a bunch of people. And then you have to be authentic and real. I couldn’t do it like these other guys could. They’d absolutely morph into someone else with all that distraction.”
So, Dean withdrew to concentrate on his family and his music. He wanted to make music, something he calls as natural as walking and talking.
“If you want superstardom, it will cost you everything. In terms of performing and recording music, I can do that,” he said. “But I wouldn’t be able to do that if I hadn’t been doing it since kindergarten.”
Dean got his start performing in his father’s country band at the age of 8. Yes, he was on stage, but the guitar wasn’t turned up.
“I finally got old enough to play, and they found out I was a pretty good player. After awhile, they let me turn it up a little louder.”
Dean, 49, now knows what he wants to do. It has nothing to do with being groomed for success or even with sausage. It has everything to do with performing, by himself, in front of an audience, with a list of hit songs from his career.
“I get more out of this,” he said. “With a one-man show, it gives me a chance to read the audience and perform accordingly. That keeps it fresh for me.”