Music has always been a part of Lee Greenwood’s life. He started playing the piano when he was seven and the saxophone at 12. In junior high, he started his first group called the Moonbeams. His sister Patricia was the piano player in the band. By the time, he finished High School he played most all the instruments in the orchestra and was the Drum Major for the marching band.
Greenwood was born in Los Angeles California & finished high school in Sacramento in June 1960. He passed on track & music scholarships to the College of the Pacific along with a professional baseball career to pursue his passion for music. He also elected to skip his high school graduation ceremony to begin work at the Golden Hotel & Casino in Reno Nevada with his own band, the “Apollos”. That turned out to be a great choice.
The California native was discovered in 1979 by Larry McFaden, who saw him performing in a show at the Nugget Casino in Sparks, Nevada. Larry was the bass player and bandleader for Mel Tillis. He brought the singer to Nashville and got him signed to the Halsey Agency, who booked The Oak Ridge Boys. He began working with producer Jerry Crutchfield who would record with Lee for the next 20 years.
“Choosing songs to record is always exciting,” says Greenwood. “I’m a songwriter as well and I love lyrics that have depth and emotion. I’m thankful for the many writers & artists who have contributed to my career”.
With seven #1 songs & 25 charted singles to his credit, choosing songs proved to be a success for Greenwood. His country hits include: “It Turns Me Inside Out”, “Ring On Her Finger Time On Her Hands”, ”She’s Lying”, “I Don’t Mind the Thorns If You’re The Rose”, “Dixie Road”, “Somebody’s Gonna Love You”, “Going Going Gone”, “You Got A Good Love Comin”, “Fools Gold”, and “Mornin Ride” while he already garnered several crossover hits such as “Touch & Go Crazy”, “IOU” and the duet with Barbara Mandrell, “To Me”.
Lee Greenwood has won numerous industry awards including, Male Vocalist of the Year from the Academy of Country Music in 1983, two Male Vocalist of the Year awards from the Country Music Association in 1983 & 1984 and a Grammy for Top Male Vocal Performance in 1985 for “I.O.U.”. The CMA also named “God Bless The U.S.A.” its Song of the Year in 1985.
“God Bless the USA” went far beyond what Greenwood expected when he wrote it in the back of 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 9/11/01. In addition, CBS News voted “God Bless The U.S.A.” the most recognizable patriotic song in America.
In 2011, Beyonce offered her version of “God Bless the U.S.A.” as a download, with the proceeds going to the 9/11 firefighters fund in NYC. It has been performed by contestants on “American Idol” twice & was the winning song in the 2011 “Dancing with the Stars” competition on ABC. It is performed at all military and patriotic events throughout the year all across America. “USA” has also been in several movies and is now part of the film shown by The Department of Homeland Security when new citizens are sworn in to the United States.
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 back in the United States. The song represents my family, my community and those men and women who have paid the price for the freedoms we all love and enjoy.”
President George W. Bush appointed Greenwood to serve on the National Endowment of the Arts Council and his appointment was U.S. Senate approved. That Presidential Appointment continued under President Obama and still continues under President Trump.
In 2012, Greenwood released a children’s illustrated book, “Does God Still Bless the U.S.A.,” and ranked #1 on many of the notable Best Sellers Lists. It features a 30 day calendar, “Prayers of a Patriot” and includes two songs, written by Greenwood, free for download in the back of the book. One is a new version of “God Bless the U.S.A.,” and the other is a Praise & Worship song, “Show Me The Way”.
Lee and his wife, Kimberly, a former Miss Tennessee, fell in love on his 1989 USO/DOD tour. They were married in Nashville in 1992 and have two sons, Dalton and Parker.