Ty Herndon’s 2015 Concert for Love & Acceptance became one of the most talked about events of CMA week, and this year the event is back and bigger than ever. The first Concert for Love & Acceptance received national attention from Boston Globe, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Tonight, People and more.
A Grammy-nominated and Dove Award winning artist, Herndon created and co-hosted the first Concert for Love & Acceptance alongside GLAAD in 2015, when his 20th anniversary fan club party turned into a coalition of artists gathering in support of Nashville’s at-risk youth. The driving force behind the benefit is Herndon’s desire to foster positive cultural change and encourage Nashville’s youth to live to their fullest potential.
“When I came out as a gay man in country music in 2014, I wanted to get my footing. For me it was the first time I walked out on stage in Nashville as an openly gay man, and to see my family and so many faces that had been supportive of me over the years standing up and clapping, it kind of broke me down a little bit,” Herndon said. “The whole next year people were asking for the show to be done again, but the second year we just did the fan club event, but everyone thought of it as a second year of ‘Love and Acceptance,’ so I guess this is really our third year event though it’s only the second event.”
“I’m into my third year as an out country artist, and I’ve really broadened my career horizons in the last three years. I wanted to do something here in Nashville as a brand that made funds available for our LGBT youth. Here in town there are a few organizations that are doing great things,” Herndon said, explaining his motivation. “I am from the South, and I know that the suicide rate has been really horrible over the years. We are seeing it get better but I could really see Nashville as a place that could be a hub for getting kids off the streets and have housing and a place to go, and we are just getting started with that.”
“My idea was to bring a bunch of loving hearts that care about our community that are in country music together, and we have some surprise guests that are coming that aren’t in country music… It’s gonna be incredible. We also have an amazing comedian Dana Goldberg coming to be a part of the show too. It’s grown, it’s gotten bigger and bigger,” he said. “It’s so excited to see that happen for not only the music community here but also for these kids to see they can come to town and be loved. Seeing hearts and minds opening in the country music industry has been amazing too.”
Ultimately, Herndon wants to expand that vision further. “We are hoping to brand ‘Love and Acceptance’ as a concert around the country,” he explained, “and work with different organizations all over that reach out and really make life better for kids, work to stop suicide, and provide housing and food.”
A philanthropist at heart, Herndon has also donated his time to organizations such as the Trevor Project, Make A Wish, St. Jude, GLAAD, HRC and Feed the Children.
This year’s event has CMT joining as a media partner, and the station’s newly out Cody Alan will host. While more names will soon be added, this year’s talent lineup, which will ultimately include fifteen amazing artist, already includes Billy Gilman, Kree Harrison, Ryan Kinder, Runaway June, Lorrie Morgan, Michael Ray, Street Corner Symphony, and Thompson Square, in addition to Herndon. Moving to the Wildhorse Saloon means many more seats will be available this year—an increase from 600 seats to 3,000—but you’ll want to get your tickets soon as they’re sure to go fast.
“It’s gonna be a house full of love, my friend,” Herndon said. “We are having a little problem this year—we’re having a lot of people calling wanting to be a part of it but we only have 15 spots! We actually moved the red carpet from outside to in front of the stage so that as many artists as want to come can be a part of the red carpet before heading to other events! Nashville has a big heart. Creating opportunities for people to show their heart, we do that well here. We have to all live together and support each other. In this environment today, it’s important to pull people together under the umbrella—or rainbow—of love!”
The event will be held on Thursday, June 8 starting at 7 p.m. at Wildhorse Saloon. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.TyHerndon.com.