Morgan Wallen, Jordan Davis, Gabby Barrett, Caylee Hammack, Tenille Townes and more combine forces with country legend Willie Nelson to make music on his classic song

By Nancy Kruh
Updated August 13, 2020 11:45 AM
Advertisement

Russell Dickerson considers Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" to be one of the "most classic country songs of all time." But with musical artists sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic for the foreseeable future, the song has taken on an even deeper meaning.

"That's our cry right now," Dickerson, 33, tells PEOPLE. "That's our anthem. I can't wait to be on the road again with all my friends."

So it's no wonder that Dickerson jumped at the chance to record the song with the nine other ACM new female and new male artist of the year nominees: Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett, Lindsay Ell, Caylee Hammack, Tenille Townes, Jordan Davis, Riley Green, Cody Johnson and Morgan Wallen.

Russell Dickerson
| Credit: Spencer Combs

Released on Thursday, the spirited single also features a cameo appearance by none other than Nelson, who takes a lyrical turn in the second verse.

Dickerson is especially stoked that his vocal contribution on the cut immediately follows the country deity. When he found this out, he says, "I'm just, like, losing my mind. This is the wildest dream come true. To get to be a part of it with Willie and all the other new artists, it's so awesome."

Though he'll now have an artist credit with one of his idols, Dickerson has never gotten to meet Nelson; the closest he's gotten to him was attending one of his Nashville concerts a few years ago.

The new single is a fundraiser for ACM Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund, which benefits members of the country music community in need of relief assistance, as well as a showcase for the new artist nominees.

The awards show is scheduled for Sept. 16 after being postponed in April due to the pandemic. To be held in Nashville for the first time, it's set to be broadcast from three locations, the Grand Ole Opry House, Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe.

Dickerson says he's yet to get his marching orders from the ACM for the big day, but then his mind is far more focused on an even more important personal event scheduled to occur between now and then: the birth of his first child. He and his wife, Kailey, are just a month away from welcoming their baby boy.

Credit: Spencer Combs

At the moment, Dickerson says he's anxious for the day to arrive, though he's also bracing for life changes that he's not quite sure he's ready for.

"I don't think, as a new parent, you can be," says Dickerson, whose latest romantic single, "Love You Like I Used to" is inspired by his wife. "I mean, we've got the crib. We've got the toys. We've got all the diapers and everything. But mentally, I don't know how prepared I could be. I feel like I'm trying, but then when he gets here, it's just like throw all that out the window and just figure it out from ground zero."

He's also wistfully realizing that these are the last few weeks that the Dickersons are a twosome. "We were talking," he says, recalling a conversation with Kailey, "and I'm like, 'Babe, we've just got to soak up these last few weeks before another human being that needs 100 percent of our attention every hour of the day comes into our lives."

Not that the couple has any plans for a pre-parenthood getaway. "I'm just trying to keep this schedule wide open, and we're also quarantining," he says, "because nothing's worth getting COVID and not being able to be there for the birth of my baby. So we're shutting it down pretty hard-core at the house."

Russell and Kailey Dickerson
| Credit: Laura Moll Photography

When he thinks about being a dad, Dickerson says he's most looking forward to his son being a few years older when "we can start really hanging out, playing sports, riding bikes, all that good stuff. But in the newborn stage, just seeing myself in him is what I'm most excited about."

And what about the mom-to-be?

"Oh, the cuddles," Dickerson says. "She's looking forward to the chill, just the sleepy cuddles. I know she is."

The ACM Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund benefits members of the country music community who are in need of pandemic relief assistance. To learn more, visit ACMLiftingLives.org.