NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Billy Ray Cyrus has been preparing his whole life for the role of Daniel Burton in the Hallmark Channel movie “Christmas in Canaan.”
“I started digging through like old boxes of stuff and finding old Polaroids of my dad from 1964,” he said. “I thought, if I can become my dad — if I can be Ronald Ray Cyrus in 1964 — then that’s this guy. Just go be your dad.”
Cyrus even cut his hair to look like his dad.
“I realized I just grew into my dad to be honest,” he said.
Cyrus plays a widowed father of three, living in Canaan, Texas, at the start of the Civil Rights Movement.
The script inspired Cyrus to write and record a song for the film. The song title, “We’ll Get By Somehow (We Always Do),” is something his character, Daniel, says four times in the movie. Cyrus acknowledges that the lyrics also reflect his own life, as he deals with criticism of his parenting from the media.
“I write about what is real. I write about what I’m living. ‘We’ll get by somehow, we always do.’ That’s not only Daniel’s mantra, that is my mantra,” he said.
“The second you realize that life ain’t fair, you’re one step closer to moving on,” he adds. “But most importantly, have a vision of where you want to go and who you want to be, and no matter what the naysayers say, or no matter the negativity, you stay focused.”
Cyrus got the idea for the song on his tour bus when he heard a guitarist strumming a Texas-sounding tune.
“As I got my guitar out of the case, he was playing that lick, I just started singing ‘We’ll get by somehow, we always do. That’s what makes a hope turn into truth. When the chips are down, we’ll see it through. We’ll get by somehow, oh yeah, we always do.'”
By the time he had his guitar in hand, the chorus was born.
“Christmas in Canaan” is playing on the Hallmark Channel through the end of the month.