If Lee Greenwood had never done anything else in his career except to write and record “God Bless the USA,” he would be one of the most famous Americans alive today…..the Irving “God Bless America” Berlin of his day. But, he has accomplished much more than that in his long career; and, it is with a great deal of pleasure that Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® President, Jim Douglas, announces that the amazing Lee Greenwood has accepted the Festival’s invitation to serve as the 2015 Firefighters’ Marshal.
Lee Greenwood is an icon in country music, with more than 30 albums to his credit. In fact, MCA titled a 2013 Greenwood album release just that: “Icon.” With seven #1 songs & 25 charted singles, his list of hits is lengthy to say the least. The CD “American Patriot,” recorded and released in 1992, went Platinum in 3 months; and, his latest CD is: “I Want to Be in Your World.” Music has always been a part of Greenwood’s life. Born in Los Angeles, he started playing the piano when he was 7 and the saxophone at 12. By the time he finished high school, he played most of the instruments in the school orchestra and was the Drum Major for the marching band. He turned down track and music scholarships, along with a professional baseball career, to pursue his passion for music. He skipped his high school graduation to begin work in Reno with his own band, the Apollos. That turned out to be a wise choice. He was discovered in 1979 in nearby Sparks by Larry McFaden, the bass player and bandleader for Mel Tillis. Larry took Lee to Nashville, where he began working with producer, Jerry Crutchfield, who had him sign with MCA records, and recorded with Lee for the next 20 years.
Lee Greenwood has won numerous industry awards including: ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’ for the Academy of Country Music in 1983; two ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’ awards from the Country Music Association in 1983 and 1984; and, a Grammy for ‘Top Male Vocal Performance’ in 1985 for “I.O.U.” He also won CMA’s ‘Song of the Year’ in 1985 for writing “God Bless the USA.” The song, “God Bless the USA,” has been voted the most recognizable patriotic song in America. “USA” is now part of the Homeland Security film that is shown at the swearing in of new citizens of the United States. “Choosing songs to record is always exciting,” says Greenwood. “I’m a songwriter as well as a singer; and, I love lyrics that have depth and emotion.”
“God Bless the USA” went far beyond what Greenwood expected when he wrote it on his tour bus in 1983. The song has been in the top five on the country singles charts three times (1991, 2001 and 2003), giving it the distinction of being the only song in any genre of music to achieve that feat. It was also #1 on the pop charts after 9/11/2001. Greenwood says, “USA is the song I always felt the need to write. I wanted to have something that would unite Americans from coast to coast and to instill pride in the United States. The song represents my family, my community and those who have paid the price for the freedoms we all love and enjoy.”
Greenwood performs at many charitable events and gives his time and name to numerous organizations and fundraisers. He is the National Spokesperson for “Products for Good;” the “Honor 1 Campaign;” and, on the advisory board of the “Challenger Commission.” The singer is also a member of the National Endowment for the Arts Council, a Presidential appointment. Lee and his wife, Kimberly, a former “Miss Tennessee USA,” fell in love on his 1989 USO/DOD tour. They were married in Nashville in 1992 and have two sons, Dalton and Parker. Lee Greenwood’s appearance is sponsored by the Loudoun Mutual Insurance Company.