Billy Walker has a new solo album debuting on October 4th. Walker sang with his family group, The Walkers, for 28 years. After his mom announced her retirement, Billy launched his solo career in April 2020 and just completed his first solo album after releasing two singles in 2021 and 2022.
This album, The Final Score, has eight songs written by well known southern gospel music songwriters such as Jason Cox, Kenna Turner West, Brent Baxter, and Marty Funderbunk to name a few. In addition, the album was produced by Scott Godsey and Paul Secord.
Q: Billy, thanks for doing this interview with us. Being part of the Walkers for the last 28 years, what are some of the things you are most grateful about?
Thank you so much for this opportunity.
I was born into a musical family. Even before I was born, my family traveled around singing gospel music and promoted gospel music for other artists. I'm grateful for the musical and spiritual influences from my family. I've never known anything else in my life and I've always felt singing gospel music was my calling. I will forever be honored to have been in ministry with my family as we traveled across the U.S.A. and Canada. I am so thankful that I got to spend those years with them.
Q: What were some of the differences now that you are making a solo album?
This has been a very different experience in so many ways. There is a bit more flexibility to express myself vocally as a solo artist versus being with a group. There isn't time spent on perfecting harmony and tightness with members of the group so I was able to focus more on my performance. As a solo artist you listen to material with a little different vantage points. As a group you can pretty much fit any song into the mold of your group, but as a solo artist there are some songs that simply doesn't work. I was very grateful that I had a couple of seasoned individuals leading me in the process that presented to me tailor made material for a solo artist.
Q: Why did you entitle the album "The Final Score"?
This has been a very different process for me. For 30 years going through the mechanics of putting a project together I was pretty much the final say on everything. When Angela, my wife, and I started talking about this project we decided to do something extremely different. We went to, in my opinion, the best team in Nashville led by Grammy nominated producer Scotty Godsey. We decided to give them a lot of input in every aspect of this process. We were discussing different topics related to the project and the album title came up. We kicked around several ideas and in a line of one song "Jesus 1, Death 0" is "Final Score". We thought that could be symbolic to a number of things particularly the finality of Jesus' defeat of death and sin and that one day this life will be final and how we've lived will be our final score.
Q: Who are some of the songwriters on this new album?
There are amazing writers on this album. I've sang a few songs for congregations in the last few weeks and the crowd favorites seem to be Jesus 1 Death 0 written by Lee Black, Jason Cox, Dustin James Guarnete and You Saved My Life written by Marty Funderbunk and Scott Forbus. Some of the other talented writers are Jason Cox and Kenna Turner West (The Gospel Truth), Brent Baxter, Jordan Burks, and Randy Maynor (Blank Check), Michael Farren and Laura Haddard (The Never Again), Benny Cowart, Michael Farren, and Dustin Smith (The Killing Tree).
Q: What are some of the highlights for you in the making of this record?
One of the great highlights has been the input of seasoned and talented people leading me in the process. I have been part of amazing albums before but there was so much to the process that I had to pour into so I wasn't able to just sit back and enjoy the ride so to speak. I was not able to be at the tracking sessions of my last three albums, so being present for almost the entirety of the making of this album was pretty special. I had forgotten about the magic that is when you see incredibly talented musicians that transforms words on paper from scratch into a beautiful song. It has been so rewarding as an artist to see how this project started to actually seeing the physical disc in my hand. The initial meetings, the song pitches and selection, getting the keys right, seeing the arrangements come to life from paper to the reality of hearing it, singing the songs, the production aspect it has really been surreal. I'm not a contractor but it has to be like building a house: plans on paper turning into a beautiful building.
Q: How do you hope these new songs would impact the lives of your listeners?
Each song selected impacted and spoke to me. From a performance standpoint it is so much easier to display the emotion needed to perform a song for the audience to feel the message when you yourself as the artist feel the message. My hope is that each song impact the audience member or the person who streams or buys the album and provokes them to a deeper relationship with Jesus and an understanding of the love that Jesus has for us. My mission is simple, to reach the lost for Jesus and encourage the church. I believe that each song on this album will allow me to do that.
You may visit Billy's website at billywalkerjr.com.