Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill will perform in the city where he was born tonight at Norman's Riverwind Casino.
While he has sold 26 million albums, earned 20 Grammys and sung with some of the brightest stars in the music business, Gill said tonight's show, along with Saturday's concert in Tulsa and a Jan. 28 performance in Thackerville, will look familiar to folks who saw him play more than three decades ago in his native state.
“Well, gosh, I'm not doing anything a whole lot different than I did 35 years ago when I lived there,” he said with a laugh during a phone interview last week from his adopted home of Nashville, Tenn. “I play and I sing and I crack jokes. And I have a killer band. It's arguably one of the best bands on the road, and some of the players are pretty esteemed. ... They play on a lot of the hit records that everybody makes. I don't know why they want to come travel around with me, but they do, and I sure feel lucky.”
For Gill, who grew up in Oklahoma City, 2010 was filled with ups and downs. In May, for instance, he watched floodwaters devastate Nashville. A few days later, he gave away older daughter Jenny Gill at her wedding, which “made all things good.”
His plans for the new year involve new music: He will release the follow-up to his 2006 Grammy-winning four-CD album “These Days” sometime in 2011.
“The running gag is ‘How many songs are on this one? Do you have an eight-CD record?'” he said, laughing. “I just showed up with the songs I showed up with for this new record. And at this point in life, to me, the real success is measured in my own improvement, not in how many records get sold or if they get played on the radio. My records don't get played on the radio as much as they used to; I wish they did, but they don't. I never quit hoping that will happen again, but if it doesn't, that's OK, too. It never has defined the results of these records.
“The last three or four records I've made, I've felt like I made great strides in improving — better songs, better singing, better playing, better grooves, better feel, better sound. ... There's so many ways to find yourself getting better at what you're doing. It may not get noticed like it did before, but you can't let that be your barometer and your definition of whether it's good or not.”
The forthcoming album, which he has yet to give a title, will be just one CD, but he can hear improvements in his songcraft.
“It's what was in my heart. There's some really beautiful songs on here, there's some really sad songs on here, and good, make-you-think songs.”
While “These Days” featured an array of guest stars including Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Bonnie Raitt, along with fellow Oklahomans Trisha Yearwood and Katrina Elam, Gill is keeping his 2011 album strictly a family affair. His wife, Amy Grant, and Jenny Gill will again sing with him on the new album, but they aren't the only ones.