For multi-platinum country singer and musician Vince Gill, music has always been about family.
“As I look back and try to remember my first conscious memory of music, it was my grannie playing the piano — she had quit playing in church but she would play at the house and I think ‘How Great Thou Art’ might be the first song I really remember hearing,” Gill said in an interview with the Sun Herald. “I was always compelled by the sound of music and I was drawn to it — my mom has a picture of me and I couldn’t have been much older than a year-and-a-half and I was asleep on the couch with my arm around a guitar. Unfortunately, I was wearing a dress but that’s another story.”
And to keep the tradition going, Gill’s daughter, Jenny, recently released an album. The proud father said he is very supportive of his daughter’s decision.
“I’ve had a life that I wouldn’t trade with a living soul, and I’m encouraging of any of my kids that want to be creative and do things,” he said. “It’s pretty rare that you get to do something for a living that you are really crazy about.”
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Some 20 albums later that have sold more than 26 million copies, Gill’s passion for music is as strong as ever. He returns to Biloxi on Friday for the second of two shows at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Tickets start at $55 for the 8 p.m. show.
Becoming a songwriter
Gill joined the country rock band Pure Prairie League in 1978 and sang lead vocals on one of the band’s biggest hits, “Let Me Love You Tonight.” He did not perform on the recoding of the band’s hit song “Amie,” although he did perform it in concert.
“I joined Pure Prairie League when I was 21 and I had a handful of songs and they recorded about five of them,” Gill said. “I thought, ‘Oh, hell, I’m a songwriter,’ but with songwriting, you miss way more than you hit — people don’t get to hear the bad songs that don’t make the records.”
He left Pure Prairie League in the early 1980s to join songwriter Rodney Crowell’s band, where he said he got serious about songwriting.
“(Rodney) is still one of my best friends in the whole world and I learned so much about songwriting from him,” Gill said. “Songwriting was kind of the last thing to come for me — I learned to play first, but once I got to high school and started liking girls, I started singing and then I started wondering about songwriting and I was really drawn to guys like Rodney and Guy Clark.”
Clark was one of many musicians that died in 2016, including Glenn Frey of the Eagles and country legend Merle Haggard.
“We also lost (steel guitar great) Buddy Emmons, the list just goes on and on — this has been the worst year ever, I don’t remember any year that’s been this bad,” Gill said. “For me on a personal level, several of those guys were friends — Glenn was a great friend of mine, Merle was a great friend of mine and my all-time hero — I want this year to go away.”
If you go
Beau Rivage Resort & Casino at 875 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi
8 p.m. on Friday, Sept 23
Tickets start at $55 and are available at Tickemaster.com.