Vince Gill has won more Grammy Awards than any other country singer in history. Twenty-one, to be exact. He has also won 18 Country Music Association Awards and sold over 26 million records. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1991 and was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
At 62 years of age, Vince began an extensive tour of America that continues until the end of the year, stopping for one show in Providence this Friday, October 11 at 8 p.m. at the Vets Auditorium.
Vince Gill is no stranger to Rhode Island. Talking with him by phone from his Nashville home, he reminisced about his “good times” in Rhode Island, especially at the old Warwick Musical Theatre.
“I remember the night the electricity went out,” he said. “When they couldn’t get it back on, I moved around to each section and played acoustic. It was quite a night. I remember fondly the Bonoff family [Buster and Barbara, son Larry and daughter Betsy]. They became close friends over the years.”
When asked to perform at their final night back in 1999, Vince not only did his show, he stayed well after midnight, playing request after request.
I e-mailed Larry in Florida to tell him I would be talking with Vince Gill, and he asked me to thank him for taking the time to be interviewed for his movie, “The Tent,” which told the WMT story.
“It was my pleasure,” he said. “You know, that part of the country is one of the prettiest in the world and people from New England are some of the friendliest. The Bonoff family was among my best friends.”
If you watched the recent Ken Burns documentary on the history of country music and the special concert leading up to the series, you saw a lot of Vince Gill, both in vintage photographs and films, and in recent performances at the Ryman in Nashville, both performing and backing up other singers.
“Do you know that that entire process took eight and a half years,” he said. “Sadly, twenty of the performers who appeared in the production have passed away.”
“Being a part of that has been one of the proudest moments of my life,” he continued. “Ken Burns told the story of country music with dignity. It was a blessing to be part of it.”
If you look back at Gill’s long career, you will see that he loves to share the stage with superstars as well as up-and-coming singers. You will see him in the Burns’ documentary playing back up guitar and singing duets with country legends.
“Some of my proudest moments are working with new singer/songwriters, giving them the encouragement I got in the early days of my career.”
Gill enjoys singing his many hits, like “When I Call Your Name.” He still writes new songs, and you’ll hear some of them from his new album, “Okie,” Friday night.
When I asked if he would sing my favorite, “Go Rest High On That Mountain,” he assured me that he always sings the song that is closest to his heart. “If anything I hope I will be remembered for that.”
Vince was on his way to Vegas for one more show before continuing his tour at the Vets this Friday. He’ll end the tour, which will continue with his wife, Amy Grant, joining him with some Christmas music.
I thanked him for spending time with one of his biggest fans before he went on the road again, congratulating him for his long career, which at age 62 shows no sign of slowing down.
“I hope there’s a lot more to come,” he said.