Tyler Hubbard Honors NYC Firefighter Who Lost His Father on 9/11 [Watch]
Tyler Hubbard took a moment to honor a fan at a recent show in New York City. The "5 Foot 9" singer paused his set to share a bit about James Dowdell, a firefighter who lost his father during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I just connected with him," Hubbard tells the crowd in the video below. "We only knew each other for a day, but I felt like he was a brother and we could relate."
"I lost my dad when I was 20 — about 15 years ago. I just related, man," the singer recalls. "That story, your story meant so much to me and sharing your time — honoring your dad the way that you did it just touched me, moved me."
Dowdell was in attendance for Hubbard's show, and the singer shared that the two spent some time together in the city. Dowdell took Hubbard's family to his fire station, where the kids got to play around with some of the equipment. Things became somber, however, when they visited the September 11 memorial.
"After that he took us to the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero and we got to walk around there and hear his story," Hubbard says. "He had a dad who seemed like an incredible, incredible guy. He lost his life fighting as a firefighter on 9/11 at the World Trade Center."
The "Dancin' in the Country" artist was so inspired by Dowdell's willingness to share his father's story that he decided to play a song that he wrote for his own dad, who died in 2007.
"I wasn't gonna play this song tonight — I've never really played it, to be honest, in front of a crowd. But this is a special part of my story as well and this is how I honor my dad. I wrote a song about him and I wrote a song from the heart about how I felt at that current moment and how I feel pretty often," he explains.
"Miss My Daddy" is a deeply personal track off Hubbard's self-titled debut solo album. The project arrived on Jan. 27, offering much of what we typically expect from the now-solo Florida Georgia Line member: Upbeat tracks and love songs about his wife, Hayley. At the end of the day, Hubbard felt including the vulnerable song was necessary.
"As I was putting this album together I decided, 'Yeah, I think this is an important song" and part of my story, a big part of my story. It shows a different side of who I am,'" he tells Evan Paul of Taste of County Nights. "I hope that can be healing and therapeutic for a lot of people."
That included his own mother, Amy.
"I figured maybe in some way it would be helpful for her to hear it too," he reveals when asked if she had listened to it. "She liked it and said she was emotional and she could relate and missed him a ton. I just thought it might be cool for her to hear my heart, because we don't talk about it that often, about how we're currently feeling or doing."
"That was 15 years ago so we miss him every day, but it's definitely gotten easier. But then there's some times where a wave will hit you," he adds.