Today I am excited to announce a new segment on my blog: Community Spotlight. Each month I will bring you an interview with someone in the diabetes community. Each will share their story and how diabetes affects their life.
Our first interview is with Amanda Jo and Billy Lee, who together form the country group Truckstop Honey. They have their first album coming out this Friday, October 6th, 2017, and honestly, I am so excited for it. Their first single, Polaroid, was released this summer and is one of my new favorite songs. Check it out below:
I met Amanda and Billy at Friends for Life this past July and knew I wanted to interview them. Let’s see what they had to say.
What connection do you have with diabetes?
Amanda Jo: I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in April 2000.
Billy Lee: I was first introduced to Type 1 Diabetes when I met Amanda in
November of 2012. I’ve learned so much about diabetes since then. Now I am a
proud Type 3!
What made you decide to work together?
Amanda Jo: Billy was the first person I met when I first moved to Nashville. He
was hosting a songwriter’s night at The Nashville Palace and I was new and
trying to meet other songwriters in town. We became friends pretty quickly and
started writing songs together. We played our first show together when Billy’s duo
partner at the time suddenly moved back to Texas. We spent three years touring
together as two separate artists before we decided to join forces and become
Billy Lee: Working together was a natural thing. Even though we were different in
the music we made, our approach was the same. It was all about real music
made in a passionate way.
How does diabetes affect your life in show business?
Amanda Jo: Diabetes definitely has its own set of unique challenges. It can be a
struggle to keep blood sugars stable while dealing with adrenaline from shows,
long travel hours and unplanned meals. Thankfully my Tandem t:slim X2 insulin
pump and my Dexcom G5 CGM makes a HUGE difference in managing diabetes
both on and off the stage. I’m grateful for their technologies that make managing
diabetes on the go a lot easier.
Billy Lee: I just have to remember that sometimes she may be low or high and
sometimes she needs to take a few minutes to take care of her diabetes. Her
Tandem pump and Dexcom sure makes a big difference.
Have you ever had diabetes interfere with your work?
Amanda Jo: I’ve dealt with some low blood sugars during a show. It doesn’t
happen often, but it is something I have to deal with on occasion. I remember a
show I had in Indiana where I could not get my blood sugar to come up. I drank 4
cans of regular Coca-Cola and it wouldn’t budge! In a low blood sugar induced
brain fog, I forgot a few of the lyrics. I’m not sure it was the best show I’ve ever
played, but I made it through! The secret is to be prepared. I always make sure I
have sugar on stage with me so I can treat any low blood sugars as quickly as I
can without disrupting the show. While diabetes affects every part of my life,
including music, I am determined to not let it stop me from following my dreams. In fact, my diabetes has never been better controlled since diving into the music
business full time.
Billy Lee: I don’t think it interferes at all. We both pay attention to it and through
good monitoring it doesn’t create issues.
Your album is coming out soon. Tell me about the process and what
Amanda Jo: We are so proud of this new album! It is called Polaroid and it
releases October 6 th . The album has 14 songs on it that were all written or co-
written by Billy and myself. It is a 14 song snapshot of our lives over the past few
years — which is why we called in Polaroid. We were lucky to have written with
some of our favorite songwriters in Nashville. Every song was written from a
personal place. The album was inspired by love, by loss, by taking chances, by
being yourself and by never giving up.
Billy Lee: The process would take five pages to explain, but it’s been rewarding
for sure. We are proud of this album. The list of inspirational things would be very
long as well. Amanda inspires me. My daughter inspires me. My mom and dad
inspire me. My songwriting community and songwriters inspire me. Selfless acts
inspire me. Great guitars inspire me. Making music that matters inspires me
How did you get involved with Children with Diabetes and Friends for Life?
Amanda Jo: Children With Diabetes was one of the first and most important
resources my family and I had to learn about life with Type 1 Diabetes when I
was first diagnosed. I remember spending hours on their website, reading stories
from other kids with Type 1 and learning how to deal with both the physical and
emotional highs and lows of diabetes. I would look at the pictures of the Friends
For Life conference and dream of attending. 16 years later in July 2016, I was
invited by Jeff Hitchcock to share my story with the kids at Friends For Life. It has
become my absolute favorite event. I love getting to perform for the CWD kids
and spend the week sharing on how diabetes has not stopped me from following
my dreams of music.. The magic of Friends For Life cannot be fully explained in
words. Every year I leave more inspired by the stories, the friendship, and the
love from each person there.
Billy Lee: Amanda asked me to go with her two years ago. It was life changing. What a positive environment and community. They instantly made us feel like family. We look forward to attending and playing shows there every year.
And don’t forget to get their album on October 6th, 2017 wherever you get your music!
Want to be in the community spotlight, or know someone who would be great in the community spotlight? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!