News And Notes

All posts tagged "The Willis Clan"

Jul 11

Get a Glimpse of The Willis Clan’s Home Classroom Tonight

The Willis Clan Classroom

Brenda and Toby home school their children. Here’s a view of the Willis Clan classroom. Photo by Joe Hardwick.

The 12 talented children in the new GAC series The Willis Clan are all home schooled by their parents, Toby and Brenda Willis. If you’ve ever wondered what that process is like, you’ll see it in action in tonight’s episode, airing at 8/7c.

Meet the Family >>

“Some people call the way we home school ‘unschooling,’” says Brenda, who has a degree in education and previously taught in the public school system. “Obviously I sit down with the littlest ones and I teach them how to read, teach them their basic math. But once they can read, it’s pretty much, ‘Here’s the book – learn it.’ And of course we check in with them all the time. But we may be on the front porch, on the couch, on a blanket in the yard. We try to keep everything we do really involved in ‘real life.’ Continue Reading


Posted at 4:30 pm | Permalink
Jun 27

PHOTOS: Take a Tour of The Willis Clan Home

Brenda Willis

Brenda Willis sits in the front porch swing of the Ashland City, Tenn. home she shares with husband Toby and their 12 children. Photo by Joe Hardwick.

If raising a large family was an extreme sport, Toby and Brenda Willis would be gold medalists!  In the new GAC series The Willis Clan, we follow their adventures as they raise 12 children who are accomplished singers, songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, athletes and in the case of the older kids, internationally-ranked competitive dancers! The series premieres Thursday, June 27 at 8/7c. Additional showtimes >>

Brenda recently welcomed us into their home and gave us a tour of their beautiful rustic Ashland City, Tennessee cabin. Here are a few pictures from the tour. Continue Reading


Posted at 3:48 pm | Permalink
Jun 21

Carrie Underwood Debuts at No. 1 on Top 20

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood photo courtesy Sony Music Nashville.

There’s a new No. 1 on GAC’s Top 20 Country Countdown this week! Carrie Underwood debuts in the top spot with her new video, “See You Again,” while Tim McGraw‘s “Highway Don’t Care” (with Taylor Swift and featuring Keith Urban)  remains at No. 2  this week and Blake Shelton falls to No. 2 with “Boys ‘Round Here” after spending four straight weeks at No. 1.

Top 20 Photo Gallery »

Plus, host Nan Kelley is visited with The Willis Clan, a family of 12 super-talented kids who are accomplished singers, songwriters, dancers and athletes and the stars of a new GAC series, The Willis Clan, at their home in Tennessee while Hunter Hayes dropped by the studio to talk about his new deluxe album, Encore.

Want to re-watch some of your favorite interviews? Head over to our Top 20 section for videos, photos and more! You can also catch Top 20 Extras, cast your votes and take a look at the current chart to see where your favorite videos land. Visit our Top 20 section »

This Week’s Chart:

  1. Carrie Underwood – “See You Again”
  2. Tim McGraw w/Taylor Swift ft. Keith Urban – “Highway Don’t Care”
  3. Blake Shelton – “Boys ‘Round Here”
  4. Tate Stevens – “Power Of A Love Song”
  5. Little Big Town – “Your Side of the Bed”
  6. Thompson Square – “If I Didn’t Have You”
  7. Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel”
  8. Pistol Annies – “Hush Hush”
  9. Kip Moore – “Hey Pretty Girl”
  10. The Band Perry – “DONE” Continue Reading


Posted at 9:30 pm | Permalink
Jun 21

Top 20 Visits with The Willis Clan & Hunter Hayes

Nan Kelley with The Willis Clan

Nan Kelley with The Willis Clan at their home just outside Nashville. Photo by Grant Moore.

GAC’s Top 20 Country Countdown and host Nan Kelley is visiting with The Willis Clan, a family of 12 super-talented kids who are accomplished singers, songwriters, dancers and athletes and the stars of a new GAC series, The Willis Clan, at their home in Tennessee. Plus, Hunter Hayes dropped by the studio to talk about his new deluxe album, Encore!

Top 20 Photo Gallery »

On the countdown, will Blake Shelton remain at the top of the charts or will Carrie Underwood take over with her new video, “See You Again?” Tune in tonight at 8/7c to meet the Willis family and here what Hunter has to say about his new music! Full schedule » Continue Reading


Posted at 9:25 am | Permalink
May 28

Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley & More Help GAC Get Fired Up for Summer!

Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney photo courtesy of Sony Music Nashville.

Regardless of your plans this summer, GAC has a show for you! We’re unveiling new series, documentaries and concert specials — plus, you’ll meet an amazing family with 12 children living out the American dream. There will also be music specials from Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley and a biodoc on Gary Allan!

The Willis Clan is our new series about a hard-working, tight-knit American family, their struggles and their victories. Premiering June 27 at 8/7c, the series follows Toby and Brenda Willis, who are raising 12 children to be successful – and in some cases award-winning – singers, songwriters, dancers and athletes. While some may find their ways unconventional, the family is balanced with equal parts love and discipline.

GAC has teamed with Dollywood in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this summer to present The Great American Country Show featuring a special appearance by a legendary country music performer, a cast of six singers backed by a six-piece band and video appearances by our hosts Storme Warren, Suzanne Alexander and Nan Kelley. Continue Reading


Posted at 9:52 am | Permalink
Apr 17

GAC Introduces Fans to the Supersized Willis Clan in New Series

The Willis Clan

The Willis Clan L to R: Jennifer, Jeanette, Jedi, Jessica, Jeremiah, Jackson

Toby and Brenda Willis make raising a large family look easy. The couple has 12 children, ages 2-21, who are accomplished singers, songwriters, multi-instrumentalists and internationally-ranked competitive dancers. GAC will take viewers behind the scenes of this talented family in The Willis Clan, a new series premiering June 27 at 8/7c.

A normal day begins at 8 a.m. for the children and includes homeschooling and chores but also rehearsing for a dance competition or musical appearance, designing and creating the costumes worn when they compete or preparing to travel to a contest or gig. A few of the boys are following in their father’s footsteps as competitive wrestlers and have won a combined 12 state titles.   Continue Reading


Posted at 12:55 pm | Permalink
May 27

Rodney Atkins Hosts Second Annual “Music City Gives Back” Concert June 5

Rodney Atkins

Rodney Atkins performs at First Annual "Music City Gives Back" concert in Nashville in 2011. Photo Courtesy of McGhee Entertainment.

On Tuesday, June 5, award-winning and platinum-selling country star Rodney Atkins will once again host the Second Annual “Music City Gives Back” benefit concert in conjunction with the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. The event will be free to the public and features an all-star lineup including the legendary Clint BlackThompson SquareLee BriceJosh ThompsonJana KramerThe FarmMallary Hope, and The Willis Clan.  Music is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on the outdoor stage on Broadway in downtown Nashville between Second and Fourth Avenues.

With the help of sponsors GAC, Wrangler Western Wear®, Cricket Wireless, Carl Black Chevrolet and Advanced Auto Parts, fans will be able to enjoy a night of great music at no cost and have the opportunity to contribute to the American Red Cross.  Donations may be made on site.

“Last year was such a great experience to close down Broadway and to raise money and awareness for the American Red Cross, we decided to do it again,” shares Rodney. “This is an organization that helps so many people in all of our communities and they need support not just when disaster strikes. Looking forward to getting out there and working with Wrangler Western Wear® and Cricket’s Muve Music to raise awareness and party with everyone in Music City.” Continue Reading


Posted at 8:13 am | Permalink
Dec 21

Meet the Supersized Willis Family in GAC’s New Special: The Willis Clan

The Willis Clan. Photo courtesy of Rubin Media.

Meet The Willis Clan, a family of 14 – mom, dad and 12 multi-talented kids – in our latest special, The Willis Clan, premiering Thursday, December 29 at 9/8 c. The special will chronicle the Willis family’s unique and somewhat unconventional way of raising their family, while remaining dedicated to living country.

YouTube Preview Image

“I think my kids are capable of nothing short of excellence, but getting there comes from a lifetime of hard work,” father Toby Willis says. Residing in a home in a rural part of middle Tennessee, the Willis family leads a fast-paced life, focusing on full-time homeschooling, coaching, choreography and all the chores involved in running a large household.

The Willis siblings range from ages 1 to 19. They are multi-instrumentalists, songwriters, singers and the six eldest children are nationally-ranked competitive dancers. During the special, four of them are preparing for a dance competition in Florida that is just five days away. The family band must write and record an original piece of music for the competition. Jessica,19, must write lyrics to a melody created by Jeremiah, 18. “The pressure is very real,” says Jessica. “Pressure is what makes me cry, I guess. You think you know your task and it grows on you.”

While not a dancer himself, Toby pushes Jeremiah/Jennifer and Jackson/Jasmine, the four children competing in the dance competition, during endless rehearsals. “Dad’s our toughest critic,” Jeremiah says. “My dad’s not going to tell us anything that’s not the truth.”

“Sometimes it’s more nerve wracking dancing for my dad than dancing for an audience because the audience isn’t going to tell you what you did wrong,” Jennifer says. In addition to school work and rehearsals, The Willis Clan also creates the costumes worn during competitions and each child is responsible for making their bed and doing their laundry every day. Continue Reading


Posted at 11:57 am | Permalink