Crystal Gayle is one of the most celebrated artists in country music. She’s won a Grammy and has a stack of CMA and ACM awards such as Female Vocalist of the Year and Most Promising Female Vocalist. And now, she can add member of the Grand Ole Opry to her resumé, as Gayle was inducted in January.
Gayle returns to the Coast on Saturday for an 8 p.m. show at the Island View Casino in Gulfport. In an interview with the Sun Herald, she discusses her Opry induction, her duets with Eddie Rabbit and Gary Morris and, of course, her juggernaut hit “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.”
Q: Congratulations on your induction into the Grand Ole Opry in January. I think the surprising thing is that this just happened.
A: I’ve always felt like I was a part of the Opry family. My first appearance was when I was 17 or 18 and I had to fill in for my sister, Loretta Lynn, who was sick. Her husband talked them into letting me go on and sing a song in her place. It was a special night.
I’ve just always felt like I was a part of that family and finally they made it official. I have the paperwork.
Q: In 1977, you released “We Must Believe in Magic,” which had the huge hit “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” Do you remember the first time you heard the song? Did you feel like it was going to be a hit for you?
A: When I first heard “Brown Eyes,” I loved it. I knew it was a special song. My producer, Allen Reynolds, got the song from Richard Leigh, who hadn’t had a hit in a while. He told Allen he was getting ready to send “Brown Eyes” to California for some people to hear. Richard played it for Allen and Allen said, “You’re not sending that song anywhere.” We almost didn’t get it.
Things happen for a reason. What you hear is what we did on the first take in the studio. It just felt right. We recorded it again, but we used the first take. We did it live with the musicians in the studio.
It’s a song that doesn’t come around that often. I’m so glad that I got one of those songs. Richard Leigh is a great songwriter. It says so much in so little. It’s a very well-written song.
Q: I’ve asked Don Felder, who co-wrote “Hotel California,” and the Oak Ridge Boys, who had crossover success with “Elvira,” a similar question — did you feel pressured to try to top the success of “Brown Eyes?”
A: There was definitely pressure there and pressure from the record company. It was weird — I got so many songs sent to me with the word “eyes” in them.
That song opened so many doors that I couldn’t go through all of them. I always say that I’m glad it wasn’t my first song out of the box because I don’t know if I could have handled all of the success that came with it.
Q: You had not one but two hits with Gary Morris, both of which had ties to TV shows — “Makin’ Up for Lost Time” from a “Dallas” album and “Another World.” Did you enjoy your musical partnership with Gary?
A: Gary has this great voice. He made you really come with your game. He has a great range. It was a lot of fun. We did some touring together, too. He’s a great guy. I also recorded with Eddie Rabbit and that was a lot of fun, too.
If you go
Island View Casino at 3300 W Beach Blvd. in Gulfport
8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets start at $30 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.