Country music star Vince Gill brings his guitar and a songbook full of hits to the Honeywell Center in Wabash Sunday.
Although performer is the role for which hes best known – starting with his days as a bluegrass young gun through his stint in Pure Prairie League and a 25-year solo career that earned him a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007 – in recent years Gill has been most visible as an ambassador for the Nashville music community.
He is a perennial presence on the awards-show and charity circuits, where his laid-back, unassuming charm is a top draw. He famously hosted the Country Music Awards for 12 straight years from 1992 to 2003, a gig that made for awkward moments when the emcee had to go up and collect one of the 12 CMA awards he won during that period. (Over his career, Gill has 18 CMAs, including a record five Male Vocalist Awards, an honor he shares with George Strait.)
One reason Gill is in such high demand for these types of events is because he seems to love doing them. The Norman, Okla., native sees such appearances as part of the fun of celebrity.
Its a kind way to live, Gill says. It feels good to me, and Im married to someone (singer Amy Grant) whos equally passionate about being a good human being. So it makes for a good partnership and good home life.
But dont let all the public appearances fool you. Gill is still very much active in his chosen profession.
My passion hasnt waned one ounce, says Gill. Im still crazy about playing and singing. Im driven by it and competitive with myself about getting better. Im confident that will never change.
In 2006, Gill shocked the music world with the release of These Days, a four-disc box set of new music, including collaborations with Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt. Coming just three years after his last release, the collection made an astounding statement about Gills prolificacy, and it won countrys all-time leading male Grammy winner his 19th Recording Academy trophy.
It just happened all by accident, Gill says of the making of These Days. I went in to start a record, and Id written so many songs. I just said, Ive got a bunch of new songs and Im tired of taking 10 or 12 and making a record and taking 20 or 30 and putting them in a desk drawer. There may be some fine songs in there that get lost because a records supposed to have 12 sides or whatever.
From his days as a sideman for Ricky Skaggs and Rodney Crowell to the more than 20 records he appeared on in 2008 alone, Gill has long been one of Nashvilles most popular guest performers. He has appeared on records by Willie Nelson and Asleep At the Wheel and on comedian Steve Martins banjo record, The Crow. Gill worked on a track for Daughtrys second album and recorded with an Australian unknown whose name he couldnt remember.
Just a young guy from Australia who asked me to come and sing on his record, and I said, OK, Gill says. Thats what musics about. Its not about the results you can get out of it. I wish I had a list of all the big stars first records that I sang on when nobody knew who they were.