Georgia native Billy Currington grew up listening to all kinds of music as a kid and it was only happenstance that he became a country artist.
"I loved rock and R&B too," the 39-year-old singer said in a recent phone interview. "I just happened to end up in Nashville when I was 18 because a preacher I met in Georgia took me there and told me I belonged there."
Currington, who sang in the preacher's church, is glad he listened to the clergyman. Currington ended up selling more than 11 million recordings over the last decade and scoring such hits as "Don't," "People Are Crazy," "That's How Country Boys Roll," "Must Be Doin' Somethin' Right" and "Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer."
He will perform his hits as well as other music Thursday at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto. He will be joined by his six-member band.
"We're going to be playing a 60- to 90-minute set of all the albums I've had out and a couple from the new album," he said. "Also, we do get back into the past. We play a couple of them old covers that get you going really good."
The new album "We Are Tonight" comes out Sept. 17 and features a duet with Willie Nelson on the song "It's Hard to Be a Hippie." Currington said it was a treat to perform with the country legend.
"Willie's just as perfect as he was 20-30 years ago," Currington said. "He's a perfect human being and perfect musician. Everything about him is so sweet. His singing is so great, his guitar playing is superb."
The album also features Currington's cover of the Jack Johnson song "Banana Pancakes."
"I've been a big fan of Jack Johnson's for a few years," Currington said. "I first heard his music out in Hawaii. That's where I heard 'Banana Pancakes.' I asked everybody, 'Have you heard that song?' and I got so many no's. I thought it's so great that I'm going to record it and then you're going to hear it."
While he was willing to chat about his music success, Currington did not want to talk about the legal troubles in his personal life. His publicist warned this reporter before the interview not to ask him questions about a recent case in Georgia. In April, he was indicted on felony criminal charges of "abuse of an elder person by inflicting mental anguish" and "making terrorist threats." The charges have to do with an April 15 incident in Georgia involving boat captain Charles Harvey Ferrelle.
According to CNN, Currington yelled at Ferrelle when Ferrelle was giving a boat tour around Currington's Tybee Island, Ga., property and followed as Ferrelle went to his slip at a nearby dock. Ferrelle was 70 at the time of the incident.
Currington wants to keep attention focused on his music, including that his latest single "Hey Girl" is out on iTunes. He is also recording some hip-hop music with the band Cadillacs in Space.
He loves being in the California outdoors while on tour.
"I'm having the best time," he said. "It's very beautiful out here. I'm doing some hiking and kayaking."
WHAT: Billy Currington
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: RogersTheater, GalloCenter for the Arts,1000 I St., Modesto
CALL: (209) 338-2100