For country star-turned-actor Billy Ray Cyrus, music has always been a source of inspiration. And after a difficult year, which saw Cyrus call off his divorce from wife Tish and make amends with superstar daughter Miley, the 49-year-old star is ready for a fresh start.
In addition to gearing up for the release of his upcoming album, I'm American, Cyrus is also using his famous voice to educate people about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, in honor of his grandfather who battled symptoms of the disease.
Cyrus talked to Parade.com about his connection to the health initiative. Plus, his biggest hope for his famous daughter as she looks to shed her teen queen image.
Raising awareness of COPD: "I was stunned to find out that COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in America and actually kills more people each year than breast cancer and diabetes combined -- that really stood out to me. I was shocked, and the more I learned about it, the more I realized I had connections to the disease. My grandfather suffered from symptoms of COPD and I just realized that this was a very worthy cause. Prevention and awareness can sometimes be the best way to fight this disease."
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The healing power of music: "Music can be a healer in itself. It has always been a great inspiration for me. My grandfather played bluegrass music and my earliest memories are Saturday nights sitting around singing bluegrass and Sunday morning we'd be at my other grandfather's church singing southern gospel songs. Music always was an important cornerstone of my family and still is today."
Watching his daughter Miley follow in his musical footsteps: "That's what it's all about for our family and for all musicians. I think music is an evolution of what an artist is feeling and going through in their lives. We've always been the fans of singers and songwriters who live what they're singing and sing what they're living."
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His wish for Miley as she grows in her career: "My wish for her is to be happy. To love what she's doing. We've always had a slogan in our family: 'If you ain't happy, it ain't working.' You need to love what you're doing. As long as she's happy and loving making music -- and I know she loves acting -- that's all that matters. I pray the same for Miley as I pray for my other kids -- that they live their life with purpose knowing that it's about giving back and finding out what you can do in this world to hopefully make it a better place."
His advice for future stars: "I'll lean back to a couple buddies of mine, one being Waylon Jennings, the other being Johnny Cash, the other being Carl Perkins, all three of those great men said the same thing to me: 'Cyrus, keep it real. Be who you are and do what you do because you love it.' I've followed that example of keeping it real. Nothing else in this business is worth it. Don't be chasing fads or trying to necessarily be the guy that's trying to fit in with everybody else. Be who you are and be an original."
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How he deals with the negative side of fame: "I try to focus on the positive. Fame can be dangerous. I think it's important to stay focused on where you wanna go, what you're all about, and what you want to do with your work. And there will be a lot of distractions out there. That's why it's all the more important to stay focused on what you believe in."
Gearing up for his new album I'm American, due out June 28: "I am so excited about getting back out on the road. We're kicking off the tour here in a few weeks and we've got a brand new single shipping out to radio soon. It's called 'Runway Lights,' and it's the theme song for my new series I'm doing on TLC called 'Homecoming'. It's about the troops. They sacrifice an awful lot for us and this show is all about giving back to them and reuniting families. It's just a great way to support our troops. There will be a sneak peek premiere of the show on Memorial Day on TLC and it will return on July 11."
On the first time he heard his voice on the radio: "It was in 1989, I had written the song 'Some Gave All' for a Vietnam veteran that I met in this club in Huntington, West Virginia. I immediately made a recording of the song and I remember hearing it play one night on the radio and I had a feeling that music might be my purpose. My prayer and my goal always was that God use my life and my music to represent his light and his love and to hopefully fulfill my purpose on this earth. I do believe that music is my calling. That's why I write songs, that's why I record, and to be honest, that's why I do television and even got into acting."
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