Vince Gill, Cam + More Embrace Acceptance at Ty Herndon Concert

There’s always a sense of enthusiasm artists bring to a performance, but there was a true feeling of pride when the multitude of stars took the stage at the Wildhorse Saloon for the 2018 Concert For Love and Acceptance. Host Ty Herndon partnered with GLAAD to present the concert that brings together artists from across the spectrum, with Cam, Michael Ray, Tanya Tucker, Thompson Square, Vince Gill and more lending their support to the event that celebrates the LGBTQ community and benefits at-risk youth.

Herndon set an empowering tone for the evening with a spirited cover of “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman and admitted backstage before the performance that he’s overwhelmed by the support from his friends in the artist community. “I’ve been very emotional this week,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville. “To see our little brand growing so much and people knowing about it and talking about it and waiting to see what we do next with something that started because I wanted people to have a little more love and compassion in their heart for people like me and for kids like me.”

The vast array of artists lent itself to a night of love and acceptance as each act delivered unique performances and honest stories. Cam brought the power with her striking singles “Diane” and “Burning House,” while Thompson Square sounded as harmonious as ever on the reflective song they wrote about their son for the title track of their new album, Masterpiece. Tucker was clearly the queen of the night, receiving a wild reception from the crowd when she took the stage for “If Your Heart Ain’t Busy Tonight” and a duet with Herndon on “Delta Dawn.”

“There’s so many fans from the LGBTQ community that show up in such a big way for me over and over again, so I want to show up for them,” says Cam, who was “so happy” to participate in the event. “There’s such a big community that supports us. The fans are so amazing and there’s way more people that are allies and LGBTQ themselves in country music than you realize. I think as people’s minds start opening up, you’re going to see more of that and it will be wonderful.”

“I think Nashville is being perceived differently because of events like this and as more folks like me speak up, we’re learning that there are others who love country music and are LGBTQ,” continues CMT host and the evening’s emcee Cody Alan, who came out as gay in 2017. “I think that evolution is happening; it’s not a revolution, it’s an evolution.”

Ray also conveyed the true meaning of the event when he looked around the sold-out venue and said “this is how we make changes” before projecting sincerity and sentiment on “Her World or Mine” off his new album Amos. Britain’s Got Talent’s Calum Scott enamored the elated crowd with his stunning chops on “You Are the Reason” and “Dancing on My Own,” earning a standing ovation, and out country singer Brandon Stansell delivered a host of emotion when he became teary-eyed sharing the struggle of coming out to his family in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn., but still feeling pride in the place he was raised in his touching song “Hometown.”

NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 07: Vince Gill performs at the GLAAD + TY HERNDON’s 2018 Concert for Love & Acceptance at Wildhorse Saloon on June 7, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for The 2018 Concert for Love & Acceptance)

There was no silencing the crowd when surprise superstar guest Gill took the stage, except for when the gentle singer pulled out his guitar for “Whenever You Come Around,” introducing his set by driving home the evening’s message, “I heard as a child the words that we were all created equal. I believed them as a young boy and I believe that as a man.”

As the Concert For Love and Acceptance continues to grow, Herndon hopes these themes of positivity and acceptance continue to permeate. “I wanted to build a brand of hope,” he reflects. “And that’s where we’re headed with this.”