Country music is a family and takes care of its own.
A new article by Saving Country Music, discussed how fans and artists rallied behind a struggling songwriter named Hugh Prestwood. He was originally from El Paso, Texas and was writing every single day with the aim to land a cut on country radio. Instead of going the traditional path to Nashville, Tennessee, he moved to New York City where a friend believed that he could help him get his start.
He soon got his start in the industry. Back in 1978, Judy Collins heard his song entitled “Hard Time For Lovers”. She ended up making it the title track for her 1979 record and cut his other song, “Dorothy”. Just eleven years later, he ended up getting his big break.
Randy Travis cut “Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart,” which earned him a No. 1. Highway 101 cut “Bing Bang Boom and Shenandoah recorded his song “Ghost in This House,” that Alison Krauss covered after. Other artists like Jimmy Buffett, The Judds, Jerry Douglas, Tanya Tucker, and Don Williams recorded his work. Aside from getting cuts, he ended up teaching songwriting classes at a school. His writing was so prolific that he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.
Despite the success, Prestwood has been struggling with his neighborhood becoming unstable, royalties becoming less, and opportunities becoming nonexistent.
“Based on the old business model I had assumed those royalties would continue and provide a reasonable retirement income. But it was not to be,” Prestwood explained.
Country Music Steps Up
“So we slowly began sinking into credit card debt and by 2012 we were forced to sell our home we’d bought in 1984, and began renting another home we have been in ever since. I was also eventually forced to sell my song copyrights. The proceeds on the home and copyright sales kept us afloat for several years but were gone by 2018, and since then we have been—as the saying goes—living on a shoestring.”
Things got worse when his landlord decided to evict them to make it a vacation rental. They planned on moving back to Texas until he fell in his backyard and crushed a vertebra in his spine. The injury caused him to become disabled. This meant that he couldn’t afford to take care of himself and move.
With the help of fans and artists, a GoFundMe called “Elderly and Drifting Toward Homelessness” was created. The goal is to fund their move from New York to Texas.
Aside from fan donations, country musicians have also donated to the cause. Famed producers Luke Laird, Buddy Cannon, Josh Kear have all donated. Additionally, Josh Osbourne, John Conlee, and Garth Fundis have also donated. Country music stepped up. He has already surpassed his goal of $25,000 and reached over $70,000.