Billy Dean Is ‘Very Grateful’ for Friends and Fans on the Country Music Cruise [EXCLUSIVE]

Billy Dean is one of the many performers on this year’s Country Music Cruise. For Dean, his favorite part is a chance to catch the music by some of his fellow singers, ones he doesn’t get to see very often.

“You get to see a lot of your old friends and buddies, you get to see how time has dealt with them over the years,” Dean tells Everything Nash. “You get to share a lot of stories. A lot of people that understand me and my work are on this boat, and there’s only a handful of people that you can share those things with. So it’s really great to see where everybody is at in their life, and where they’re headed. And most of us are grandparents now, and we have that in common.”

Friends and peers aside, Dean credits the many music fans who come year after year to spend a week soaking in some of their favorite country music.

“It’s the sweet people that come and spend the money, that come on this cruise and make you feel like a million dollars every time you run into them,” Dean praises. “I remember the days when you were doing 200 and something shows a year, your patience was worn thin and you would stay in your stateroom, just try to avoid people till you could rest up. But not at this stage of my life. It’s like, the life I have is because of the people on this cruise, and I’m very grateful to them.”

It’s been 34 years since Dean’s debut Young Man album was released in 1990. With so many years of making music, the 61-year-old is profoundly thankful for the life he has now, and his longevity in country music.

“When you grow up like dirt poor, like we did, your biggest fear is going back to that,” Dean says.” I wake up every day still having that fear, and then I forget, ‘Well, you’ve been okay for 34 years. You hadn’t had to go get a real job yet.’  I keep thinking I probably have to go get a real job somewhere, but I left Nashville about six, seven years ago … I never wanted to be one of those guys, one of the older artists that would not move out of the way for the younger artists coming. I just, I didn’t wanna be that guy. I saw a lot of people before me that way, so I left.”

Dean performed in Branson for a while, before returning to his native Florida, where he still writes, records and performs.

“I moved back home to Florida, and I thought I was done,” Dean admits. “I really did.  I thought, well, it was a good run. And I’m still writing, and I like storytelling. The older you get, the better storyteller you get. ’cause you got another year or layer of story. But then the ’90s started coming back, and here we are, 34-something years later, I can’t believe we’re getting a second wind right now. It’s awesome. The only thing is I’m not 30 anymore. The traveling kicks my butt.”

Dean is working on releasing new music. Keep track of updates at