Ty Herndon is celebrating Pride Month in 2019 with a very special new release. The veteran county singer is re-releasing his debut single, "What Mattered Most," with the pronouns altered to be LGBTQ-appropriate, marking the first time he's sung the song with that kind of truthfulness on record.

The new rendition of Herndon's debut single makes its new perspective clear from the opening line.

"I thought I knew the boy so well / If he was sad, I could not tell," Herndon sings to open the song. The new lyrical slant changes the entire heft of the instantly-familiar chorus: "His eyes are blue / His hair is long / In ‘64 he was born in Baton Rouge / His favorite song is 'In My Life' / I memorized his every move / I knew his books, his car, his clothes / But I paid no attention to what mattered most."

The new recording features a modernized arrangement that remains faithful to the original musical intent of the song, as well as a much more mature and fully-realized vocal performance from Herndon. "What Mattered Most" gave Herndon a No. 1 hit when it was released as the lead single from his debut album of the same name in 1995, when Herndon was many years away from coming out.

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"What a lot of people don't know is that I had actually been in a loving relationship for 14 years with my partner at the time," he tells Taste of Country. "And I wasn't quite able to sing that song with the honesty that I can sing it today."

Herndon came out in November of 2014, and recently he's been re-arranging the song in his live shows, singing the first half of the song with its original lyrics and switching the pronouns for the back half.

"Every time I do that, they lose their minds and they go crazy over it," he observes. "That's what gave me the idea of, 'I want to do this for the kids I counsel; I want to be brave enough to change my first No. 1 song into how I would sing it today, and yet maintain the full integrity of the song.'"

Herndon has become a prominent advocate for LGBTQ issues since 2014, with a specific focus on working with youth. He says many of the kids he talks to are "afraid of country" because they feel like they're not wanted or liked in the genre.

"So I'm hoping to get a lot of new country fans on the side of LGBTQ, to let them know that we are a safe place, and that we are a loving family of music," he shares. "I believe that, because I live in Nashville, and I have a lot of friends in this business."

The new recording of "What Mattered Most" is one of the tracks set for release on Herndon's upcoming covers album, Got It Covered, which features re-imagined versions of six of his own songs alongside six covers of his friends' songs. The project is set to drop on Aug. 23.

"What Mattered Most" is currently available for streaming and download across a variety of digital music services.

Herndon is also celebrating Pride Month again in 2019 with his annual Concert for Love & Acceptance, which takes place at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville on Thursday (June 6) during the 2019 CMA Music Festival. Herndon is set to perform as part of an all-star lineup that also includes Antigone Rising, Lee Brice, Daughtry, Harper Grae, Mickey Guyton, Tayla Lynn, Brody Ray, Tyler Rich, Brandon Stansell, Rita Wilson and Chely Wright. The annual event supports GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).

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