Country superstar Vince Gill returns to Louisiana for food, fellowship and an intimate performance at the Heymann Center. By Andrea Gallo
“Authenticity, to me, is the key to any music that you’re playing,” says country music hall of famer Vince Gill, adding that regardless of the venue in which it’s played, from the Grand Ole Opry to the Heymann Center, music is an experience that transcends time and brings people together.
The recipient of 19 Grammy Awards and 18 CMA Awards, Gill will bring that transcendent take on music to the Heymann Performing Arts Center on June 26 for a small, intimate, PASA-sponsored performance.
“If you get a great audience, it doesn’t matter if there’s 100 people or 50,000,” Gill says. “A great crowd’s a great crowd and a great band’s a great band and that doesn’t change no matter what the venue is.”
Gill says venues like the Heymann Center give him the opportunity to feel a closeness and connection with his audience. He’s no stranger to small venues, he says — that’s how he got his musical start before becoming famous.
“The reason you’re all there is to share a musical experience,” he says. “I’m there to play and help you enjoy it and I hope you’re there to enjoy it and I appreciate that we can play it.”
Music, Gill says, has the power to spur inspiration for both artists and audiences.
“The creative process of playing music is, to me, the purest form of democracy that I’ve ever seen when you gather people together for one common goal — and that’s to create something, and how we all work together to make that happen is pretty great. I wish our country could find a way to do that,” he laughs.
Transcending memory is another one of music’s powers, Gill says, as he recalls hearing “How Great Thou Art” as his first musical memory. Carrie Underwood and Gill recently performed the gospel standard together on the Academy of Country Music television special “Girls Night Out,” with Gill adding a sweet, soulful lead on his Fender Stratocaster.
“I know that for me, that the sound of music has compelled me and moved me since I was a baby,” he adds.
While Gill says he’s traveled the country touring, Louisiana draws him in with great food, people and good times, and he’s always up for a visit with his friend Sonny Landreth. Cajun music, Gill says, is “infectious.”
“It is some of the best feeling music you could ever want to hear,” he continues. “Just the way that they make the music dance and the groove that they play with is unlike anything I’ve ever heard.”
Known for bluegrass and country music alike, Gill says authenticity is what entices people to listen to any genre of music. He points to the Stanley Brothers and Bill Monroe as bluegrass “steeped in tradition,” and Merle Haggard and George Jones as country music classics.
“For me, when it’s honkytonk, it’s beer-drinking sounding, it’s all those things — that’s what I enjoy, those things that are real.”
Gill’s new album should debut this fall and he has a single set to release late during the summer.
“I love trying to create something that’ll move somebody and that never stops,” he says. “I don’t think you ever feel like you’re done. I think great songs last a lifetime.”
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