Country singer Earl Thomas Conley, known for his hits such as "What I'd Say" and "Right from the Start," has died. He was 77 years-old. Conley died on Wednesday April 10th in Nashville where he had been in hospice care.
"We are heartbroken," Carol Scates, Conley's life partner of 20 years, said. "The light has dimmed but his light will shine on in his music."
Erinn Scates, 22, Earl Thomas Conley's youngest child, said, "He was a great dad, and he filled our lives with color."
Upon hearing of his death, Blake Shelton tweeted that his heart was "absolutely destroyed."
"Earl was my all time favorite singer, hero and my friend," Shelton said. "Prayers to his family. We will all miss you deeply my brother. Now go rest ... ."
Though Conley was a successful country singer where he scored 18 No. 1 country hits and 25 top 10 songs, he started off as a Gospel singer. During his teenage years, Conley was offered a scholarship to an art school, but rejected it in favor of joining the U.S. Army. While in the Army, Conley became a member of a Christian-influenced trio, where his musical talent and vocal ability first began. Conley then decided to consider performing as a serious career option.
Even in the midst of recording big hits, Conley never ignored his faith. In 1987, Conley and Keith Whitley recorded a duet named "Brotherly Love." The song celebrates the love between two siblings despite their differences, upholding the Biblical ideals of what love needs to look like.
The song appeared on Whitley's posthumous 1991 album Kentucky Bluebird and Conley's 1991 album Yours Truly. This duet version charted for twenty weeks on Hot Country Singles & Tracks, peaking at number 2 and holding the position for one week. In 1992, this version was nominated by the Country Music Association for Vocal Event of the Year.