Brantley Gilbert and Wife Amber Welcome Son Barrett Hardy-Clay – See His First Photo!

Brantley Gilbert‘s “Kind of Crazy”? New fatherhood!

The 32-year-old country rocker and his wife Amber welcomed their first child, son Barrett Hardy-Clay Gilbert, on Saturday, Nov. 11, his rep confirms to PEOPLE exclusively.

Born at 1:37 p.m. after a fairly quick labor at Piedmont Hospital in Athens, Georgia, baby Barrett weighed in at 6 lbs., 7 oz. and measures 20 inches in length.

“Honestly, I’m just speechless,” Gilbert tells PEOPLE of the birth of his first child. “Watching the delivery, I don’t even know what to say. Amber and I are just so thankful and blessed to have this beautiful little boy.”

Due the 17th, Barrett arrived a bit sooner than originally anticipated. “It was really fast. Amber woke up, had a little pain,” the singer-songwriter explains. “And the nurse said, ‘You’re ready.’ It was 30 minutes, and we had Barrett. And I have no words, beyond it’s even more than I could’ve ever imagined.”

When it came to naming their son, the Gilberts looked to a longtime favorite, as well as their family lineage.

“Barrett’s a name we’d had for a very, very long time,” Gilbert tells PEOPLE. “We knew we wanted to have a ‘B’ name, and something we’ve always had and loved.”

The baby’s hyphenated middle name honors both sides of Brantley and Amber’s family — Hardy comes from Amber’s father’s side, while Clay was the country star’s PaPaw’s middle name.

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RELATED VIDEO: Baby (Finally) on the Way for Brantley Gilbert and Wife After Fertility Struggle

Gilbert and his wife revealed they were expecting their first child exclusively to PEOPLE in May, explaining that it was “an answer to a prayer” after trying to conceive for almost two years following their June 2015 wedding.

“We’d been to see a fertility specialist, and two different folks that told me it would be close to a miracle if it happened without IVF,” Gilbert said at the time. “I’m not much of a quitter, but I was really, really frustrated.”

But in February, Amber “handed me a box and there were three pregnancy tests in there and all of them were positive,” he recalled.

“I think I stared at it for at least two minutes without saying anything because I was literally in shock. We’d been told it was just not in the cards, and I’m staring at this answer to many, many, many prayers.”

RELATED: It’ll Be a Boy for Brantley Gilbert and Wife Amber: “There’s Something About the Idea of a Little Guy”

In early June, the then-parents-to-be celebrated their little one with a gender reveal party, where the “Bottoms Up” singer used a rifle to shoot at a target filled with blue dust.

“Everybody was crying. I turned around and I think that’s when it hit me that everybody’s wanted this for us as much as we did for so long,” Gilbert told PEOPLE. “When the blue cloud went up, well, that made it even more real. Now we know it’s a little boy, and he’s gonna have to get ready for a whole lot of love.”

“We got to go to the doctor’s and pick up the envelope with the in it,” Gilbert added. “Then we took it to the guy who was packing the powder. We dropped it off, then waited until the big moment … and man, when we saw that blue cloud of smoke rising?! There are no words.”

FROM PEN: Today‘s Savannah Guthrie Was Very Superstitious About Her Pregnancy: “I Didn’t Want to Jinx It”

RELATED GALLERY: It’s a Country Baby Boom! See All the Nashville Couples Expecting Right Now

“Amber and I thought it was a little boy. I don’t know how or why, but we just did,” he continued. “I’d have been happy with any baby, boy or girl. But there’s something about the idea of a little guy … ”

The new dad is extremely grateful for the couple’s new addition, telling PEOPLE in June how much the support of their loved ones has meant to them along their journey.

“It feels like Amber and I have been trying to have a baby, and now that it’s happening, the world is as happy as we were,” Gilbert explained. “People saw what we were going through, and so many people have these problems, so we’re all in it together.”


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Elizabeth Gilbert And Girlfriend Rayya Elias Hold Commitment Ceremony

Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert and girlfriend Rayya Elias are more committed to each other than ever. 

In a beautiful post shared on Facebook Tuesday, the 47-year-old writer ― who split from husband José Nunes just under a year ago ― announced that she and Elias had held a “simple and spontaneous ceremony of love” surrounded by close family and friends.

Gilbert wrote that the ceremony wasn’t “legally binding,” just a “private celebration of what we have long known to be true: We belong to each other.”

The ceremony’s timing had special significance; as Gilbert noted in the Facebook post, Elias ― a fellow writer and Gilbert’s long-time best friend ― has been battling pancreatic and liver cancer for the last few years:

“More difficult days are to come,” Gilbert wrote. “It doesn’t get easier from here. Rayya’s illness is grave. But our love is strong. We will walk together as far as we can go together. After that, it all gets turned over to God.”

Elias is a musician and the author of Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk From the Middle East to the Lower East Side.

In an equally moving Facebook post last September, Gilbert wrote that romance blossomed between the two women after Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer this past spring. 

She also revealed that the intensity of her relationship with Elias played a part in the end of her marriage last spring.

“Death — or the prospect of death — has a way of clearing away everything that is not real, and in that space of stark and utter realness, I was faced with this truth: I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya,” Gilbert wrote. 

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Darlene Cates, ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ Star, Dead At 69

Darlene Cates, who starred as Bonnie Grape in 1993’s “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” died in her sleep on Sunday morning, her family told TMZ.  

Cates, best known for playing Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio’s housebound and overweight mother in the Peter Hedges novel-turned-movie, was 69. Her daughter, Sheri, took to Facebook to share the news, writing, “We take comfort in knowing that she is no longer in pain and is in the arms of our Heavenly Father.” 

Cates was reportedly cast in “Gilbert Grape” after Hedges watched her on a 1992 segment on “Sally Jessy Raphael,” entitled “Too Heavy to Leave Their House.” Casting directors offered Cates ― who was close to 600 pounds and housebound at the time ― the role of Bonnie, and she accepted. It was a standout performance by Cates, who went on to appear in shows like “Picket Fences” and “Touched by an Angel.” She is also set to star in the new movie “Billboard,” which is currently in post-production. 

In 2012, Cates revealed she lost 250 pounds after years of health problems. She told the Dallas Morning News that she hoped to act again, as she had such a lovely experience with “Gilbert Grape.” 

Her on-screen son DiCaprio wrote her a note after the film, telling Cates, “I’m not really the best in expressing my words in writing but you are the most special person I have ever [met]. I’ll always remember you as the best acting mamma I ever had. You triumphed in your role.”

Rest in peace, Darlene Cates. 

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Rest in Peace, Ronnie Gilbert

Ronnie Gilbert, an original member of the legendary folk group, the Weavers, died today (June 7) at the age of 88. While the prodigiously talented Pete Seeger was clearly the most noted member of the group (Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays were the other two members), it was Ronnie Gilbert who gave the Weavers their lyrical elegance.

While Gilbert could be as playful and whimsical as the rest of the gang, her contralto voice projected a haunting solemnity that stood out. Listen to her segment on the Weaver’s version of the great Leadbelly song, “Goodnight, Irene.” Her voice is so achingly “declarative,” it’s heartbreaking. Wonderful song, terrific singer. (Fun fact: Ken Kesey’s book, Sometimes a Great Notion, takes its title from a Goodnight, Irene lyric.)

The daughter of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Gilbert was born and raised in New York City. Her mother was a seamstress (just as the iconic Mary “Mother Jones” Harris was) and labor union advocate, and her father was a factory worker. Gilbert once said that it was listening to the “subversive” lyrics of Paul Robeson on the radio, when she was a kid, that inspired her to become a folk singer.

Anyone conversant in Cold War history and its attendant “Red Scare,” is aware of what happened to the Weavers (formed in 1948). Suspecting this folk group of being too “leftwing,” the merchants of hatred and fear, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, smeared them as “Communists” and had them blacklisted.

Despite their hit songs (Goodnight, Irene, Wimoweh, On Top of Old Smokey, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, et al), they were banned from appearing on radio or television, and their recording contract with Decca Records was abruptly cancelled. They went from being one of the most popular post-war groups to being almost totally ostracized, all the result of America’s ideological ignorance and hypocrisy.

Basically, the Weavers were destroyed. The group formally disbanded in 1953. But even with the ruination of her music career, the irrepressible Ronnie Gilbert went on to become a fully committed social activist and organizer, traveling to Cuba, in 1961, and visiting Paris, France, in the turbulent year of 1968. She later earned a master’s degree in psychology and became a psychotherapist.

When I was a kid, a friend’s parents took me to a Pete Seeger concert in Pasadena, California. These people were folk music aficionados, owning records by Odetta, Baez, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, etc. Of course, by this time the Weavers had long since been dissolved and Seeger was working as a solo performer.

During the show (which he performed on a homemade banjo), Seeger made a couple of memorable announcements. The first was addressed to Ronnie Gilbert. Without any explanation or introductory words, he issued a shout-out to her, wishing her “good luck.” Apparently, she was either recovering from an illness or had been laid low by some personal problem; we had no idea. In any event, at the mention of Ronnie’s name, the audience cheered.

The second thing Seeger did was remind us that when you write a song, you have no idea where it will wind up, which made it analogous, in his words, to “raising a child.” He said the next song was one he had written but hadn’t bothered to copyright. Still, its success had made him as happy as a “proud parent.”

He then proceeded to sing, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” (which became a big hit by the Kingston Trio). When the audience heard the opening chords, they cheered wildly.

Celebrity activists are to be commended. After all, it would be a lot easier to sit poolside and count their money than to march in a rally or travel to a Third World country and promote a cause. But it’s even more impressive when this “activism” is done by celebs who aren’t millionaires, and is done without fanfare or the expectation of praise. Rest in peace, Ronnie Gilbert. You done good.

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His latest book is, Night Shift: 270 Factory Stories.

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Elizabeth Gilbert Explains Why She Stopped Being ‘Anti-Social Media’

Elizabeth Gilbert readily admits that just a few years ago, she deliberately avoided using platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Like many others initially do, the Eat, Pray, Love author viewed social media as a vortex she simply didn’t want to get pulled into or caught up in. So, she always resisted it.

“I was very ‘anti-social media’ because I thought it was just going to be a giant time suck and a big energy waster,” Gilbert explains.

Fast-forward to the present day, however, and she’s got quite a different perspective. In fact, when Oprah asks the author about the first thing she does when she wakes up in the morning, Gilbert gives an answer than even she wouldn’t have expected two years ago.

“[I] check my Twitter,” she says, laughing. “Right there in bed.”

Gilbert’s first foray into social media began when she reluctantly joined Facebook. That’s when she experienced a profound shift. “I’m like, ‘Why did I wait so long to do this?'” she says.

What Gilbert found when she began using social media is that there is an engaged community of people with whom she can interact, talk to and learn from.

“The first thing I do every morning is I go to my Facebook page,” she says. “I engage in conversation with the women who showed up there that day. I answer their questions… and I ask questions. I say, ‘What are we going to do today, you guys? What are we going to work on? Here’s what I’m working on.’ Or, I’ll say, ‘I’m stuck. What do you guys do when you’re stuck like this?’ I begin a conversation that then goes on for the next 24 hours.”

It may not seem like a spiritual act on the surface, but Gilbert explains that the daily ritual of engaging in open conversation truly feeds her soul.

“There’s so much grace and love and community in that,” she marvels. “It’s communion.”

As a writer, Gilbert adds that social media gives her another outlet through which she can exercise — and evolve — her craft.

“I’ve expanded that definition [of my vocation]. It used to just be writing novels, writing books. But now, it’s also about writing things to people on Facebook, using words to try to get closer to the truth and the goodness and the glory,” she says. “That’s what I look forward to every day.”

More: Find out what other thought leaders and celebrities do to feed their souls.

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Melissa Gilbert, Deidre Hall, Sam Harris | Oprah: Where Are They Now? | Oprah Winfrey Network

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Oprah sits down with ‘Little House on the Prairie’ star Melissa Gilbert. Plus, get updates from daytime TV legend Deidre Hall; the first-ever ‘Star Search’ champion, Sam Harris; and Kathy Kinney, the actress who played Mimi on ‘The Drew Carey Show.’
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Their stories made headlines across America. “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” features updates on some of the biggest newsmakers and most memorable “Oprah Show” guests of all time. Find out where they are now, plus see what happened to the biggest newsmakers of all time and how their lives changed after sudden fame and notoriety turned their worlds upside down.

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Elizabeth Gilbert Explains What Everyone Gets Wrong About ‘Soul Mates’ (VIDEO)

How many times have you heard people say they’re looking for their “soul mate?” When she embarked on her now-famous Eat, Pray, Love journey, author Elizabeth Gilbert did end up falling deeply in love with her now-husband — but he isn’t the “soul mate” that so many people search for. And that’s exactly why Gilbert says their relationship has a lasting future.

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants,” Gilbert wrote in Eat, Pray, Love. “But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you will ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.”

Before she journeyed to Italy, India and Bali for her book, Gilbert couldn’t make sense of the fact that she had found and subsequently lost a man she had believed to be her soul mate. Then, a friend of Gilbert’s carefully explained what a soul mate is — and why you don’t always want to marry him.

“He told me about somebody who I had lost — who I thought was my soul mate — he said, ‘He probably was. But you don’t understand what a soul mate is,'” Gilbert recalls her friend saying. “‘You think it’s all roses and happiness. A soul mate is somebody who changes you. And then, sometimes, they have to leave because the intensity of the relationship is so much that you can’t actually have [stability].'”

Rather than look to a “soul mate” for lasting love or marriage, Gilbert now believes in looking for something different.

“Your partner is something else,” Gilbert says. “That’s your friend. My husband is my best friend. He’s not the mirror that holds up my flaws. He’s just the guy who’s like, ‘I think you’re terrific’… It’s just simple, showing up for each other.”

Gilbert still admits that the fire and intensity of a soul mate isn’t without its merits. “Whatever they fired up in you, you might have needed fired up,” she says. “And then you might need them to go, so that you can go on your journey.”

The second part of Elizabeth Gilbert’s conversation with Oprah airs on “Super Soul Sunday” this Sunday, Oct. 12, on OWN at 11 a.m. ET, during which it also streams live on Oprah.com, Facebook.com/owntv and Facebook.com/supersoulsunday.

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The Advice Elizabeth Gilbert Would Give Her Younger Self | Super Soul Sunday | OWN

Tune in Sunday, October 12, at 11 a.m. ET/PT. You can also join our worldwide simulcast at Oprah.com/supersoulsunday or Facebook.com/supersoulsunday.

What advice would author Elizabeth Gilbert give her younger self? Her answer may surprise you. “There is absolutely no advice that I could have given my younger self that I would have listened to,” she says.

Still, Elizabeth says there is one thing she would say. “I would have said, ‘Avoid romantic entanglements in your youth and focus on yourself.'” In the video above, watch as Elizabeth explains why she would have been a completely different person had she listened to that advice in her younger years.

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“Super Soul Sunday” is a two-time Emmy award-winning series that delivers a thought-provoking, eye-opening and inspiring block of programming designed to help viewers awaken to their best selves and discover a deeper connection to the world around them. The series features exclusive interviews and all-new conversations between Oprah Winfrey and top thinkers, authors, filmmakers and spiritual leaders. Exploring themes and issues including happiness, personal fulfillment, wellness, spirituality and conscious living. “Super Soul Sunday” presents an array of perspectives on what it means to be alive in today’s world.

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Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey’s heart and creative instincts inform the brand — and the magnetism of the channel.

Winfrey provides leadership in programming and attracts superstar talent to join her in primetime, building a global community of like-minded viewers and leading that community to connect on social media and beyond. OWN is a singular destination on cable. Depth with edge. Heart. Star power. Connection. And endless possibilities.

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Elizabeth Gilbert: ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Was A ‘Permission Slip’ For Women (VIDEO)

Elizabeth Gilbert inspired a generation of women around the world with her bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. She was a woman who seemed to have it all: a beautiful home, a thriving career and a happy marriage. Inside, she was desperate to free herself from a life she felt was not her own. During her interview with Oprah on “Super Soul Sunday,” Gilbert talks about why her yearlong quest of self-discovery that took her to Italy, India and Bali so deeply resonated with her readers.

“For some reason, and this just boggles my imagination, there are still just huge swaths of women who never got the memo that their lives belong to them,” Gilbert says.

“I feel like, in a way, Eat, Pray, Love kind of was a permission slip from the principal’s office that said you are allowed to ask yourself some really important questions about your life,” she continues in the above video. “You are allowed to take accountability and ownership for your own journey.”

It’s OK, Gilbert says, for women to stop catering to others and live the life they want. “You’re allowed to ask what serves you sometimes, because I know you’ve been trained up to serve everyone,” she says. “But you’re allowed to turn that on yourself and honor your own life that you were given. And I feel like [the book] just got to people somehow that they hadn’t quite put together that they could do that.”

Elizabeth Gilbert’s full conversation with Oprah airs on “Super Soul Sunday” this Sunday, October 5, on OWN at 11 a.m. ET, during which it also streams live on Oprah.com, Facebook.com/owntv and Facebook.com/supersoulsunday.

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