A hard talking to from mama might have saved the 2020 Concert for Love & Acceptance. Ty Herndon admits that like so many of us, he was moping and feeling sorry for himself on what he calls (referencing the Alan Jackson song) the second day the world stopped turning.

His tour, a documentary, an upcoming book and this annual celebration of equality in country music and beyond all seemed to be slipping away three months ago, as the coronavirus pandemic ate away at the music industry like locusts on summer crops. Speaking with Taste of Country Nights during a recent Happy Hour interview and live performance, Herndon recalls a 6AM phone call from his mother. That concerned him, as she's normally a late sleeper, but she wanted to talk about his platform, so he started to go on about how the tour and everything he does for a living has been canceled.

"And my mother has probably rarely said this to me since I was six years old, she goes, 'I would like you to stop talking right now,'" Herndon says.

She meant "platform" in a larger sense — not just his social media profiles, but everything he does daily for the LGBTQ community at large. In seriousness, she asked how much she could sell it for and, of course, Herndon said that's not for sale. It was a trap any mother would be proud of.

"My mother," he continues, "who rarely ever said a cuss word in her life, said to me, 'Well then get your ass up out of the corner.' And you know what I heard next? A dial tone. She hung up on me."

Out of this experience — and a quick phone call to good friend and singer Kristin Chenoweth — comes the virtual Concert for Love & Acceptance, happening on June 30 at 7PM ET. Find it on CMT’s Facebook and YouTube channels initially, but Herndon says it will be distributed more widely afterward.

This year, the Academy of Country Music’s charitable arm ACM Lifting Lives joins CMT and GLAAD as partners. The lineup is stacked.

Jake Owen, Lauren Alaina, Tanya Tucker and Rita Wilson are a few of the most well-known stars who will make an appearance. Terri Clark, Lewis Brice, Mickey Guyton, Kalie Shorr and Billy Giman (who came out on the same day as Herndon in 2014) are a few others. Cody Alan will co-host with Chenoweth and Herndon for a fifth straight year. Proceeds will go to GLAAD and the ACM Lifting Lives.

While Herndon says he’ll miss the spontaneity and energy of a truly live concert, he’s feeling fortunate to keep this tradition alive in difficult circumstances. Though still focused on music, he has quietly become a mentor to many young people who are considering coming out. This year will go even further to shine a light on rising LGBTQ artists, with the first-ever LGBTQ Country Music Rising Stars initiative honoring Shell Fairchild, Harper Grae and Brandon Stansell.

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