Skip to main content
Select Source:

Gill, Vince

Vince Gill

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

Vince Gill worked as a sideman for more than a decade before breaking through to country music superstardom in 1990. Prior to that time, Gill's vocal and instrumental talents were put to use in the studio by a wide spectrum of country artists. Finally, after struggling to launch his solo career for years, he found his way to fame with a haunting neo-traditional country single, "When I Call Your Name." Chicago Tribune music critic Jack Hurst wrote of Gill: "After six years in Nashville, a man who has sung backup on the records of more than 100 other artists finally has a megahit of his own to his credit."

Many country music enthusiasts had long felt that the talented Gill was a candidate for top success in the industry. With many friends in Nashville and a long string of credits for session work, songwriting, and vocals, Gill needed only to find the style that would best showcase his assets. After years of lackluster work for RCA Records, he succeeded with his first MCA Nashville release, a project he called "the right record at the right time."

Vince Gill was born on April 12, 1957, in Norman, Oklahoma, where he was also raised. Fascinated by country, western, and bluegrass music from childhood, he was playing guitar and singing with a local bluegrass band called Mountain Smoke—they even made a record and opened for Kiss—while still in his teens. "It was just hysterical, seeing a bluegrass band come out and open for Kiss," Gill told Country Standard Time. "The folks didn't like it."

Like many of the other musicians he knew, Gill was strongly influenced by rock as well as country and bluegrass. Playing with such avant-garde artists as the Bluegrass Alliances's Sam Bush and Sundance's Byron Berline, he developed a rock-flavored picking style that proved quite popular in California. He also learned to play banjo, dobro, and mandolin—ideal preparation for the studio work that would sustain him down the road.

In 1978, Gill joined Pure Prairie League, a soft-rock band based in California. He was featured on three late 1970s Pure Prairie League albums, though the group's heyday preceded Gill's arrival. In 1979, during his stay in California, Gill married Janis Oliver, herself a would-be singer-songwriter. For several years Gill and his wife were content to live and work on the West Coast. Then Gill made a controversial career decision, one that absolutely confounded his California friends.

Gill had known singer Rodney Crowell since the days when the latter sang backup for country star Emmylou Harris. When Crowell decided to go solo and form his own band, he asked Gill to back him up. It was a demotion, in effect, since Gill had been singing lead with Pure Prairie League. "People were telling me, ‘Man, how could you make that step backward?,’" Gill recalled in Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader. "Musically, that was a giant step [forward] for me." As the 1980s began, Gill moved with more focus into purely country music, forging lasting relationships with Crowell, Harris, and the man who would become his producer, Tony Brown.

Nashville proved a congenial environment for both Gill and his wife. The up-and-coming singer with the high, expressive tenor found as much work as he could handle as a session vocalist and musician; he worked with Crowell, Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash, and Patty Loveless, to name a few. In 1984 Gill signed a contract for solo work with RCA Records. His first RCA release, a mini-album called Turn Me Loose, yielded a Top 20 hit and earned Gill the Academy of Country Music's top New Male Vocalist Award.

The sailing was not smooth thereafter, however; Gill had grand ambitions for his music, ambitions that ran counter to the prevailing winds in Nashville. "I felt I was going to be the one who could really bridge the gap between pop and country and get rock fans interested in country music," he told the Chicago Tribune. Through three RCA releases Gill explored his personal vision, bringing all his acoustic and vocal talents to bear. He achieved modest success and even cracked the Country Top Ten with the duet "If It Weren't for Him," recorded with Rosanne Cash.

Stepped Out of the Shadows

In 1990 Gill severed his relationship with RCA and moved down the street to MCA Nashville, where his friend Tony Brown was working as a producer. Gill's first MCA recording, When I Call Your Name, was far more traditional than his previous work; it featured an Oklahoma swing number and several compelling country ballads. The album became Gill's biggest, selling four or five times more units than any of his previous releases. "It's the first real country record I've ever made, and I'm extremely proud of it," he told the Chicago Tribune.

Gill's pride was justifiable in light of the awards he garnered for the album's title song. "When I Call Your Name" was judged the Best Single of the Year by the Country Music Association and was awarded a Grammy as Best Country song of 1990. The album yielded other hits as well, including the Reba McEntire duet "Oklahoma Swing" and the bluegrass-styled "Never Knew Lonely." At long last Gill had stepped out of the shadows of the Nashville recording studios and into the spotlight many felt he richly deserved. His tenor vocals and chilling harmonies may not have closed the gap between country and pop, but they had enriched and enlarged the scope of bluegrass in a country format.

For the Record …

Born Vincent Grant Gill on April 12, 1957, in Norman, OK; son of J. Stanley (a judge) and Jerene Gill; married Janis Oliver (a singer-songwriter), 1979 (divorced, 1999); married Amy Grant (a singer), 2000; children: Jenny (with Oliver), Corrina (with Grant).

Singer, songwriter, producer, and live concert entertainer; performed with Bluegrass Alliance and Sundance; singer and guitar player with Pure Prairie League, c. 1975-80; session musician, backup singer and guitar player with Rodney Crowell, c. 1980-84; signed as solo artist with RCA Records, released first hit, "Turn Me Loose," 1984; moved to MCA Records, released first number one hit, "When I Call Your Name," 1990.

Awards: Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards: New Male Vocalist of the Year, 1984; Top Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, 1992; Country Music Association (CMA) Awards: Single of the Year, 1990; Vocal Event of the Year, Song of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, 1991; Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, 1992; Vocal Event of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, 1993; Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, 1994; Grammy Award, Best Male Country Vocal, 1990; Best Country Vocal Collaboration (with Steve Wariner and Ricky Skaggs), 1991; Best Country Song, Best Male Country Performance, 1992; Best Country Instrumental Performance (with Asleep at the Wheel), 1993; Best Male Country Vocal Performance, 1994; Best Male Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Instrumental Performance (with Randy Scruggs), 1999; Best Country Instrumental Performance (with Asleep at the Wheel), 2000; Best Country Instrumental Performance, "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," 2001; Best Male Country Vocal Performance, for Next Big Thing, 2003; Best Male Country Vocal Performance, for The Reason Why, 2006.

Addresses: Record company—MCA Nashville, 1514 South St., Nashville, TN 37212, website - http://mcanashville.com. Website—Vince Gill Official Website: http://www.vincegill.com.

Gill followed up When I Call Your Name with Pocket Full of Gold, an effort replete with no-nonsense shuffles, love ballads, and a rocking version of an old traditional song. Country Music reviewer Rich Kienzle stated unequivocally that the record deserved the acclaim it had garnered, and felt that it "nearly" equalled the "special" nature of When I Call Your Name. Kienzle finished his appraisal by declaring: "Gill deserves credit for maintaining his original direction. With tight production … combined with his clear, beautifully focused voice, he's moving in a direction that is right for him. Others should be so lucky."

Gill's star shone brighter still in 1992 when Pocket Full of Gold went platinum, as did his 1992 release I Still Believe in You. Also that year he received the honor of membership in the Grand Ole Opry. Gill went on to release three major hits in 1993, including "One More Chance." He released a true crossover album, When Love Finds You, in 1994. He rounded out the decade with High Lonesome Sound in 1996 and The Key and Christmas Collection in 1998. Gill released Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye as well as a children's album, The Emperor's New Clothes, in 2000.

Although Gill's marriage to Oliver ended in divorce in 1999, the couple had one daughter, Jenny, born in the early 1980s. Her voice can be heard on supporting vocals with her father on Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye. Gill married singer Amy Grant in 2000, and one year later the couple's daughter, Corrina Grant Gill, was born.

When country music and the record industry in general began to lose market share during the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gill remained enduringly popular with both fans and fellow pickers. Indeed the affable star was tapped to host the 36th Annual Country Music Awards, which he did with humor and grace. Further, his recordings kept racking up sales and awards to an impressive degree. As of 2006, Gill had passed the legendary Chet Atkins for the most Grammy Awards by a country artist. Even after his singles no longer found favor on radio playlists, Gill remained a major album seller. His 2003 album Next Big Thing, another Grammy winner, recalled his lighter side lyrically, while bringing his freewheeling sense of roots musicianship sharply into play. Yet, his most ambitious project to date remains the four-disc set These Days.

Speaking with Andy Ellis of Frets, Gill explained the motivation behind the groundbreaking set. "I was at a point in my career where my records were no longer getting airplay on country radio. I thought, ‘Okay, I've had a good run, what's next?’ One night as I was pondering this, the phone rang and it was Eric [Clapton]. After I got over the shock, he explained that he was a fan of my guitar playing, and he was calling to personally invite me to join him on stage at the Crossroads Festival. … It was a creative awakening." The critically acclaimed set became a major seller on the country and pop charts and earned Gill a record fifteenth Grammy Award for the single "The Reason Why."

Considering his wide instrumental experience and proficiency in many styles, it is no surprise that Gill offers a variety of work on each album. He told the Chicago Tribune that he consciously tries to put "different things" on his releases so that he does not become associated with one particular sound. His biggest challenge, he said, is to find "something to home in on, something folks [are] going to react to."

Selected discography

Singles

"Victim of Life's Circumstances," RCA, 1984.

"Oh Carolina," RCA, 1984.

"Turn Me Loose," RCA, 1984.

"True Love," RCA, 1985.

(With Roseanne Cash) "If It Weren't For Him," RCA, 1985.

"Oklahoma Borderline," RCA, 1985.

"With You," RCA, 1986.

"Cinderella," RCA, 1987.

"Let's Do Something" RCA, 1987.

"Everybody's Sweetheart," RCA, 1988.

"The Radio," RCA, 1988.

"Never Alone," MCA, 1988.

(With Reba McIntyre) "Oklahoma Swing," MCA, 1990.

"When I Call Your Name," MCA, 1990.

"Never Knew Lonely," MCA, 1990.

"Pocket Full of Gold," MCA, 1991.

(Mark O'Connor—The New Nashville Cats, featuring Steve Wariner, Ricky Skaggs and Vince Gill) "Restless," Warner, 1991.

"Liza Jane," MCA, 1991.

"Look At Us," MCA, 1991.

"Take Your Memory With You," MCA, 1992.

"I Still Believe in You," MCA, 1992.

"Don't Let Our Love Start Slippin' Away," MCA, 1992.

(With McIntyre) "The Heart Won't Lie," MCA, 1993.

"No Future in the Past," MCA, 1993.

"One More Last Chance," MCA, 1993.

"Tryin' to Get Over You," MCA, 1994.

"Whenever You Come Around," MCA, 1994.

"What the Cowgirls Do," MCA, 1994.

"When Love Finds You," MCA, 1994.

"Which Bridge to Cross (Which Bridge to Burn)," MCA, 1995.

"You Better Think Twice," MCA, 1995.

(Dolly Parton, with special guest Vince Gill) "I Will Always Love You," Columbia, 1995.

"Go Rest High on That Mountain," MCA, 1995.

"High Lonesome Sound," MCA, 1996.

"Pretty Little Adriana," MCA, 1996.

"Worlds Apart," MCA, 1996.

"You and You Alone," MCA, 1997.

"A Little More Love," MCA, 1997.

"If You Ever Have Forever in Your Mind," MCA, 1998.

"Kindly Keep it Country," MCA, 1998.

"Don't Come Crying to Me," MCA, 1999.

"My Kind of Woman, My Kind of Man," MCA, 1999.

"Feels Like Love," MCA, 2000.

"Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye," MCA, 2000.

"Straight from Your Heart," MCA, 2001.

"Next Big Thing," MCA, 2002.

"Someday," MCA, 2003.

"The Reason Why," MCA, 2006.

Albums

Turn Me Loose, RCA, 1984.

The Things That Matter, RCA, 1985.

The Way Back Home, RCA, 1987.

The Best of Vince Gill, RCA, 1989.

When I Call Your Name, MCA Nashville, 1989.

Pocket Full of Gold, MCA Nashville, 1991.

I Never Knew Lonely (compilation), RCA, 1992.

I Still Believe in You, MCA, 1992.

Let There Be Peace on Earth, MCA, 1993.

When Love Finds You, MCA, 1994.

Souvenirs, MCA, 1995.

High Lonesome Sound, MCA, 1996.

The Key, MCA, 1998.

Breath of Heaven: A Christmas Collection, MCA, 1998.

Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye, MCA, 2000.

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Vince Gill, MCA, 2003.

Next Big Thing, MCA, 2003.

The Encore Collections, BMG, 2005.

These Days, MCA, 2006.

Video

I Still Believe in You, MCA Music Video, 1992.

Christmas with Vince Gill, MCA, 1994.

Souvenirs: Live at Ryman, MCA, 1996.

Sources

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1990.

Country Music, March/April 1991; November/December 1991.

Lexington Herald-Leader, (KY), July 29, 1990.

People, June 10, 1991.

Stereo Review, April 1991.

Variety, December 23, 1991.

Online

"Vince Gill," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (March 3, 2007).

"Vince Gill," Frets, http://www.fretsmag.com/story.asp?sectioncode=52&storycode=16653 (Winter 2006).

"Vince Gill," Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com, (March 3, 2007).

"Vince Gill - the next big thing?," Country Standard Time,http://www.countrystandardtime.com (March 2003).

Vince Gill Official Website, http://www.vincegill.com (March 3, 2007).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gill, Vince." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gill, Vince." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gill-vince-1

"Gill, Vince." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gill-vince-1

Gill, Vince

Vince Gill

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Vince Gill worked at the very edges of success for more than a decade before breaking through to country music superstardom in 1990. For many years Gills vocal and instrumental talents were put to use in the studio by a wide spectrum of country artists. Finally, after struggling to launch his solo career for years, he found his way to fame with a haunting neo-traditional country single, When I Call Your Name. Chicago Tribune music critic Jack Hurst wrote of Gill: After six years in Nashville, a man who has sung backup on the records of more than 100 other artists finally has a megahit of his own to his credit.

Many country music enthusiasts had long felt that the talented Gill was a candidate for top success in the industry from his earliest professional efforts. In Whos Who in New Country Music, for instance, Andrew Vaughan noted that Gill has for years been touted as the man most likely to become a star. With many friends in Nashville and a long string of credits for session work, songwriting, and vocals, Gill needed only to find the style that would best showcase his assets. He succeeded after years of lackluster work for RCA Records with his first MCA Nashville release, a project he called the right record at the right time.

Vince Gill was born on April 12, 1957, in Norman, Oklahoma, where he was also raised. Fascinated by country, western, and bluegrass music from childhood, he was playing guitar and singing with a local blue-grass band while still in his teens. Gills high, expressive tenor was ideally suited for bluegrass and in his early years he worked with such groups as the Blue-grass Alliance and a West Coast band, Sundance. Like many of the other musicians he knew, Gill was strongly influenced by rock as well as country and bluegrass. Playing with such avant-garde artists as the Bluegrass Alliancess Sam Bush and Sundances Byron Berline, he developed a rock-flavored picking style that proved quite popular in California. He also learned to play banjo, dobro, and mandolinideal preparation for the studio work that would sustain him down the road.

In the mid 1970s Gill joined Pure Prairie League, a soft-rock band based in California; he was featured on three late-seventies Pure Prairie League albums, though the groups heyday preceded Gills arrival. In 1979, during his stay in California, Gill married Janis Oliver, herself a would-be singer-songwriter. For several years Gill and his wife were content to live and work on the West Coast. Then Gill made a controversial career decision, one that absolutely confounded his California friends.

Gill had known singer Rodney Crowell since the days when the latter sang backup for country star Emmylou Harris. When Crowell decided to go solo and form his own band, he asked Gill to back him up. It was a demotion, in effect, since Gill had been singing lead with Pure Prairie League.People were telling me,

For the Record

Born Vincent Grant Gill on April 12, 1957, in Norman, OK; son of Stan (a judge) and Jerene Gill; married Janis Oliver (a singer-songwriter), April 12, 1979; divorced, 1999; married Amy Grant (a singer), 2000; children: Jenny (with Oliver), Corrina (with Grant).

Singer and guitar player with Pure Prairie League, c. 1975-80; backup singer and guitar player with Rodney Crowell, c. 1980-84; signed as solo artist with RCA Records, released first hit, Turn Me Loose, 1984; moved to MCA Records, released first number one hit, When I Call Your Name, 1990; released Pocket Full of Gold, 1991; released Grammy-winning I Still Believe in You, 1992; When Love Finds You finds crossover success, 1994; released High Lonesome Sound, 1996; released The Key, 1998; released Lets Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye, 2000.

Awards: Academy of Country Music (ACM) Award, New Male Vocalist of the Year, 1984; Country Music Association (CMA) Award, Single of the Year, 1990; Grammy Award, Best Male Country Vocal, 1990; CMA Awards, Vocal Event of the Year, Song of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, 1991; Grammy Award, Best Country Vocal Collaboration (with Steve Wariner and Ricky Skaggs), 1991; ACM Awards, Top Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, 1992; CMA Awards, Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, 1992; Grammy Awards, Best Country Song, Best Male Country Performance, 1992; CMA Awards, Vocal Event of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, 1993; Grammy Award, Best Country Instrumental Performance (with Asleep at the Wheel), 1993; CMA Awards, Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, 1994; Grammy Award, Best Male Country Vocal Performance, 1994; Grammy Awards, Best Male Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Instrumental Performance (with Randy Scruggs), 1999; Grammy Award, Best Country Instrumental Performance (with Asleep at the Wheel), 2000.

Addresses: Record company MCA Nashville, 1514 South St., Nashville, TN 37212. Website Vince Gill Official Website: http://www.vincegill.com.

Man, how could you make that step backward?, Gill recalled in the Lexington Herald-Leader. Musically, that was a giant step [forward] for me. As the 1980s began Gill moved with more focus into purely country music, forging lasting relationships with Crowell, Harris, and the man who would become his producer, Tony Brown.

Nashville proved a congenial environment for both Gill and his wife, Janis. The up-and-coming singer found as much work as he could handle as a session vocalist and musician; he worked with Crowell, Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash, and Patty Loveless, to name a few. About that time Janis persuaded her sister to move east as well and the two began recording as Sweethearts of the Rodeo. In 1984 Gill signed a contract for solo work with RCA Records. His first RCA release, a mini-album called Turn Me Loose, yielded a top 20 hit and earned Gill the Academy of Country Musics top New Male Vocalist Award.

The sailing was not smooth thereafter, however; Gill had grand ambitions for his music, ambitions that ran counter to the prevailing winds in Nashville. I felt I was going to be the one who could really bridge the gap between pop and country and get rock fans interested in country music, he told the Chicago Tribune. Through three RCA releases Gill explored his personal vision, bringing all his acoustic and vocal talents to bear. He achieved modest success and even cracked the country top ten with a duetIf It Werent for Himrecorded with Rosanne Cash. Still, as Vaughan pointed out in Whos Who in New Country Music, Gill wasnt the star the pundits had predicted.

In 1990 Gill severed his relationship with RCA and moved down the street to MCA Nashville, where his friend Tony Brown was working as a producer. Gills first MCA recording, When I Call Your Name, was far more traditional than his previous work; it featured an Oklahoma swing number and several compelling country ballads. The album became Gills biggest, selling four or five times more units than any of his previous releases. Its the first real country record Ive ever made, and Im extremely proud of it, he told the Chicago Tribune.

Gills pride was justifiable in light of the awards he garnered for the albums title song. When I Call Your Name was judged the Best Single of the Year by the Country Music Association and was awarded a Grammy as Best Country song of 1990. The album yielded other hits as well, including the Reba McEntire duet Oklahoma Swing and the bluegrass-styled Never Knew Lonely. At long last Gill had stepped out of the shadows of the Nashville recording studios and into the spotlight many felt he richly deserved. His tenor vocals and chilling harmonies may not have closed the gap between country and pop, but they had enriched and enlarged the scope of bluegrass in a country format.

Gill followed up When I Call Your Name with Pocket Full of Gold, an effort replete with no-nonsense shuffles, love ballads, and a rocking version of an old traditional song. Country Music reviewer Rich Kienzle opened his critique of Pocket by stating unequivocally that the record deserved the acclaim it had garnered and allowing that it nearly equaled the special nature of When I Call Your Name. Citing what he felt were a few clunkers, but mostly praising the albums stand-outs, the writer applauded: Gills talent for uncanny twists in his songs, and in one instance, his anguished delivery. Kienzle finished his appraisal by declaring: Gill deserves credit for maintaining his original direction. With tight production combined with his clear, beautifully focused voice, hes moving in a direction that is right for him. Others should be so lucky.

Gills star shone brighter still in 1992 when Pocket Full of Gold went platinum as did his 1992 release, I Still Believe in You. Also that year he received the honor of membership in the Grand Ole Opry. Gill went on to release three major hits in 1993, including One More Chance. He released a true crossover album, When Love Finds You, in 1994. He rounded out the decade with High Lonesome Sound in 1996 and The Key and Christmas Collection in 1998. Gill released Lets Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye as well as a childrens album, The Emperors New Clothes in 2000.

Although Gills marriage to Oliver ended in divorce in 1999, the couple has one daughter, Jenny, born in the early 1980s. Her voice can be heard on supporting vocals with her father on Lets Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye. Gill married singer Amy Grant on March 10, 2000, and one year later on March 12, 2001, the couples daughter, Corrina Grant Gill, was born.

Considering his wide instrumental experience and proficiency in many styles, it is no surprise that Gill offers a variety of work on each album. He told the Chicago Tribune that he consciously tries to put different things on his releases so that he does not become associated with one particular sound. His biggest challenge, he said, is to find something to home in on, something folks [are] going to react to.

Selected discography

Turn Me Loose, RCA, 1984.

The Things That Matter, RCA, 1985.

The Way Back Home, RCA, 1987.

The Best of Vince Gill, RCA, 1989.

When I Call Your Name, MCA Nashville, 1989.

Pocket Full of Gold, MCA Nashville, 1991.

I Never Knew Lonely (compilation), RCA, 1992.

I Still Believe in You, MCA, 1992.

Let There Be Peace on Earth, MCA, 1993.

When Love Finds You, MCA, 1994.

Souvenirs, MCA, 1995.

High Lonesome Sound, MCA, 1996.

The Key, MCA, 1998.

Breath of Heaven: A Christmas Collection, MCA, 1998.

Lets Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye, MCA, 2000.

Sources

Books

Vaughan, Andrew, Whos Who in New Country Music, St. Martins, 1989.

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1990.

Country Music, March/April 1991; November/December 1991.

Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), July 29, 1990.

People, June 10, 1991.

Stereo Review, April 1991.

Variety, December 23, 1991.

Online

Vince Gill, All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (September 26, 2001).

Vince Gill Official Website, http://www.vincegill.com (September 26, 2001).

Anne Janette Johnson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gill, Vince." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gill, Vince." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gill-vince-0

"Gill, Vince." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gill-vince-0

Gill, Vince

Vince Gill

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

Joined Pure Prairie League

Tried to Bridge the Pop-Country Gap

Broke Through With When I Call Your Name

Selected discography

Sources

Vince Gill worked at the very edges of success for more than a decade before breaking through to country music superstardom in 1990. For many years Gills vocal and instrumental talents were put to use in the studio by a wide spectrum of country artists. Finally, after struggling to launch his solo career for years, he found his way to fame with a haunting neo-traditional country single, When I Call Your Name. Chicago Tribune music critic Jack Hurst wrote of Gill: After six years in Nashville, a man who has sung backup on the records of more than 100 other artists finally has a megahit of his own to his credit.

Many country-music enthusiasts have long felt that the talented Gill was a candidate for top success in the industry from his earliest professional efforts. In Whos Who in New Country Music, for instance, Andrew Vaughan noted that Gill has for years been touted as the man most likely to become a star. With many friends in Nashville and a long string of credits for session work, songwriting, and vocals, Gill needed only to find the style that would best showcase his assets. He succeededafter years of lackluster work for RCA Recordswith his first MCA Nashville release, a project he has called the right record at the right time.

Vince Gill was born in 1957 in Norman, Oklahoma, where he was also raised. Fascinated by country, western, and bluegrass music from childhood, he was playing guitar and singing with a local bluegrass band while still in his teens. Gills high, expressive tenor was ideally suited for bluegrass and in his early years he worked with such groups as the Bluegrass Alliance and a West Coast band, Sundance. Like many of the other musicians he knew, Gill was strongly influenced by rock as well as country and bluegrass. Playing with such avant-garde artists as the Bluegrass Alliancess Sam Bush and Sundances Byron Berline, he developed a rock-flavored picking style that proved quite popular in California. He also learned to play banjo, dobro, and mandolinideal preparation for the studio work that would sustain him down the road.

Joined Pure Prairie League

In the mid-1970s Gill joined Pure Prairie League, a soft-rock band based in California; he was featured on three late-seventies Pure Prairie League albums, though the groups heyday preceded Gills arrival. In 1979, during his stay in California, Gill married Janis Oliver, herself a would-be singer-songwriter. For several years Gill and his wife were content to live and work on the West Coast. Then Gill made a controversial career decisionone

For the Record

Born Vincent Grant Gill, April 12, 1957, in Norman, OK; son of Stan (a judge) and Jerene Gill; married Janis Oliver (a singer-songwriter), April 12, 1979; children: Jenny.

Began performing as a teen in bluegrass band Mountain Smoke; played and sang with the Bluegrass Alliance, and Sundance. Singer and guitar player with Pure Prairie League, c. 1975-80; backup singer and guitar player with Rodney Crowell, c. 1980-84. Signed as solo artist with RCA Records, and released first hit, Turn Me Loose, 1984; moved to MCA Records, and released first Number One hit, When I Call Your Name, 1990.

Awards: Named top new male vocalist of the year by the Academy of Country Music, 1985; best single of the year award from the Country Music Association (CMA), and Grammy Award for best country song of the year, both 1990, both for When I Call Your Name; three CMA Awards, 1991.

Addresses: Record company MCA Nashville, 1514 South St., Nashville, TN 37212.

that absolutely confounded his California friends.

Gill had known singer Rodney Crowell since the days when the latter sang backup for country star Emmylou Harris. When Crowell decided to go solo and form his own band, he asked Gill to back him up. It was a demotion, in effect, as Gill had been singing lead with Pure Prairie League. People were telling me, Man, how could you make that step backward?, Gill recalled in the Lexington Herald-Leader. Musically, that was a giant step [forward] for me. As the 1980s began Gill moved with more focus into purely country music, forging lasting relationships with Crowell, Harris, and the man who would become his producer, Tony Brown.

Nashville proved a congenial environment for both Gill and his wife, Janis. The up-and-coming singer found as much work as he could handle as a session vocalist and musician; he worked with Crowell, Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash, and Patty Loveless, to name a few. About that time Janis persuaded her sister to move east as well and the two began recording as Sweethearts of the Rodeo. In 1984 Gill signed a contract for solo work with RCA Records. His first RCA release, a mini-album called Turn Me Loose, yielded a Top Twenty hit and earned Gill the Academy of Country Musics top new male vocalist award.

Tried to Bridge the Pop-Country Gap

The sailing was not smooth thereafter, however; Gill had grand ambitions for his music, ambitions that ran counter to the prevailing winds in Nashville. I felt I was going to be the one who could really bridge the gap between pop and country and get rock fans interested in country music, he told the Chicago Tribune. Through three RCA releases Gill explored his personal vision, bringing all his acoustic and vocal talents to bear. He achieved modest success and even cracked the country Top Ten with a duetIf It Werent for Himrecorded with Rosanne Cash. Still, as Vaughan pointed out in Whos Who in New Country Music, Gill wasnt the star the pundits had predicted.

In 1990 Gill severed his relationship with RCA and moved down the street to MCA Nashville, where his friend Tony Brown was working as a producer. Gills first MCA recording, When I Call Your Name, was far more traditional than his previous work; it featured an Oklahoma swing number and several compelling country ballads. The album became Gills biggestselling four or five times more units than any of his previous releases. Its the first real country record Ive ever made, and Im extremely proud of it, he told the Chicago Tribune.

Broke Through With When I Call Your Name

Gills pride was justifiable in light of the awards he garnered for the albums title song. When I Call Your Name was judged the best single of the year by the Country Music Association and was awarded a Grammy as best country song of 1990. The album yielded other hits as well, including the Reba McEntire duet Oklahoma Swing and the bluegrass-styled Never Knew Lonely. At long last Gill had stepped out of the shadows of the Nashville recording studios and into the spotlight many felt he richly deserved. His tenor vocals and chilling harmonies may not have closed the gap between country and pop, but they had enriched and enlarged the scope of bluegrass in a country format.

Gill followed up When I Call Your Name with Pocket Full of Gold, an effort replete with no-nonsense shuffles, love ballads, and a rocking version of an old traditional song. Country Music reviewer Rich Kienzle opened his critique of Pocket by stating unequivocally that the record deserved the acclaim it had garnered and allowing that it nearly equalled the special nature of When I Call Your Name. Citing what he felt were a few clunkersbut mostly praising the albums stand-outsthe writer applauded Gills talent for uncanny twists in his songs, and in one instance, his anguished delivery. Kienzle finished his appraisal by declaring: Gill deserves credit for maintaining his original direction. With tight production combined with his clear, beautifully focused voice, hes moving in a direction that is right for him. Others should be so lucky.

Considering his wide instrumental experience and proficiency in many styles, Gill is likely to continue to offer a variety of work on each album. He told the Chicago Tribune that he consciously tries to put different things on his releases so that he does not become associated with one particular sound. His biggest challenge, he said, is to find something to home in on, something folks [are] going to react to.

Selected discography

Turn Me Loose, RCA, 1984.

The Things That Matter, RCA, 1985.

The Way Back Home, RCA, 1987.

The Best of Vince Gill, RCA, 1989.

When I Call Your Name, MCA Nashville, 1989.

Pocket Full of Gold, MCA Nashville, 1991.

Sources

Books

Vaughan, Andrew, Whos Who in New Country Music, St. Martins, 1989.

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1990.

Country Music, March/April, 1991; November/December, 1991.

Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), July 29, 1990.

People, June 10, 1991.

Stereo Review, April 1991.

Variety, December 23, 1991.

Anne Janette Johnson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gill, Vince." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gill, Vince." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gill-vince

"Gill, Vince." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gill-vince

Gill, Vince

VINCE GILL

Born: Norman, Oklahoma, 12 April 1957

Genre: Country

Best-selling album since 1990: When Love Finds You (1994)

Hit songs since 1990: "I Still Believe in You," "Pocket Full of Gold," "One More Last Chance"

Throughout a long career, Vince Gill has maintained his reputation as one of the most durable performers in country music. Initiating his string of hit singles in the mid-1980s, Gill secured his commercial success during the 1990s and early 2000s. Notable among modern country artists for his ethereal tenor voice and love of traditional music styles, Gill often ignored the slick pop trends that overtook country during the late 1990s. Instead, he pursued his own individualistic style, releasing albums that combine rousing dance numbers with fiddle-drenched ballads of love and heartache. Although critics have noted that Gill's pure, sincere approach can occasionally sound too laid-back, his solid professionalism makes even his lesser work enjoyable. An understated and prolific songwriter, Gill understands how to integrate classic country themes of regret and longing into a modern setting. By the early 2000s, he had exerted his artistic control even further, recording a tribute to his musical hero, country legend Merle Haggard, and acting as his own producer on the 2003 release, Next Big Thing.

As a child growing up in Oklahoma, Gill was encouraged to pursue a career in music by his father, a lawyer who performed part time in a country band. In high school Gill joined Mountain Smoke, a student band that performed bluegrass, a traditional country music style characterized by vocal harmonizing and rapid, rhythmic picking on the banjo. Moving to Louisville, Kentucky, at age eighteen, Gill became part of another band, the Bluegrass Alliance, before heading to Los Angeles to pursue a professional music career. In the late 1970s he joined the rock and country band Pure Prairie League, taking lead vocal duties on the group's hit, "I'm Almost Ready" (1980). Shortly after the single's release, Gill left the band to be with his then pregnant wife, bluegrass vocalist Janis Oliver. After the birth of his daughter, Gill became the guitarist for the Cherry Bombs, a band led by country artist Rodney Crowell. Soon, former Cherry Bombs keyboard player Tony Brown had signed Gill to a solo recording contract with RCA Records. Moving to Nashville, Gill scored his first country hit with the up-tempo, bluegrass-influenced, "Victim of Life's Circumstances" (1984). Gill grew in popularity throughout the remainder of the 1980s, earning a Top 5 country hit with "Cinderella" (1987), a song that worked his bluegrass playing into a smooth country-pop context.


1990s Country Star

During the early 1990s Gill reached a new plateau of commercial success, alternating gentle love ballads with tough dance hits such as "Oklahoma Swing" (1990), a duet with fellow country star Reba McEntire. Singing against an energetic backdrop of fast drums and pedal steel guitar, both performers sound assured and powerful, trading vocal lines and harmonizing with a finely tuned sense of play. By the release of Pocket Full of Gold (1991), Gill's albums had achieved a successful pattern, combining swing numbers and ballads in equal portions. Pocket Full of Gold is highlighted by an updated version of the bluegrass classic "Liza Jane" as well as the aching title track, a classic-styled ballad replete with pedal steel guitar, emotive piano playing by Nashville veteran Hargus "Pig" Robbins, and a lilting melody. Again, Gill proves his talent for writing sharp lyrics with rich thematic imagery. In the song, a man begins an adulterous affair by slipping off his wedding ring. Gill then uses the image of a "pocket full of gold" to represent the price the character must pay: "Some night you're gonna wind up / On the wrong end of a gun . . . what will it say on your tombstone / Here lies a rich man / With a pocket full of gold." During the performance, Gill draws out emotion by climbing higher with his voice, building to a finish that catches the listener off guard with its poignancy. As with much of his finest work, Gill creates an effortless veneer, making his peak emotional moments all the more effective through the use of restraint.


Late 1990s Critical Acclaim

Gill released consistently satisfying albums throughout the 1990s, retaining a traditional sound despite the increased pop formatting of country radio, brought on by the crossover success of artists such as John Michael Montgomery and Shania Twain. After recording two of his most commercially successful albums, I Still Believe in You (1992) and When Love Finds You (1994), Gill released High Lonesome Road (1996), an attempt to survey a wide range of traditional American music styles, including country, rock, and blues. In 1998 he returned with what critics regard as one of his finest efforts, The Key. Recorded almost exclusively in a classic country vein, the album is a tribute to Gill's musical heroes, including his late father. "If You Ever Have Forever in Mind" recalls the "countrypolitan" sound popular in the 1960s and 1970s, complete with strings and cooing backup singers, while "Don't Come Crying to Me" is a vigorous, up-tempo swing number. Set against a gentle bed of percolating banjo and guitar, "The Key to Life" is perhaps the album's most affecting moment, a restrained and loving ode to Gill's musician father: "I learned a few chords on the banjo was the key to life." Throughout The Key Gill's singing displays a new degree of looseness, spiced with vocal leaps and falsetto twists.

Having divorced his first wife in 1997, Gill married Christian pop star Amy Grant in 2000. Since Grant had likewise divorced her husband after falling in love with Gill, the union created mild controversy within conservative circles. Gill's first album after the marriage was Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye (2000), a collection of love songs inspired by his romance with Grant. Although reviewers criticized the album as too sugary, Gill returned to form with the self-produced Next Big Thing (2003). On the guitar-driven title track, Gill sounds reinvigorated, delivering a swaggering groove that suggests brash country-rock artist Delbert McClinton. Proving his voice has not weakened, Gill navigates his tight band through a series of tasteful ballads and rocking dance songs, including the Haggard tribute, "Real Mean Bottle." Opening with an electric guitar line borrowed from Haggard's 1968 classic, "Mama Tried," the song captures the older singer's toughness and honesty: "No man ever sounded so lonesome, no man ever made you feel such pain / Lord, it must've been a real mean bottle, that made you sing that way."

Retaining a sense of musical tradition throughout two decades of country stardom, Gill embodies the spirit of his idol Haggard, who has pursued his own artistic path in defiance of trends. At the same time, Gill has maintained his commercial viability due to unwaveringly pure singing and intelligent songwriting. As a vocalist, Gill's mild-mannered demeanor belies the power he holds in reserve, his consistent taste ensuring that he seldom delivers a weak performance.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Turn Me Loose (RCA, 1984); Pocket Full of Gold (MCA, 1991); I Still Believe in You (MCA, 1992); When Love Finds You (MCA, 1994); High Lonesome Sound (MCA, 1996); The Key (MCA, 1998); Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye (MCA, 2000); Next Big Thing (MCA, 2003).

WEBSITE:

www.vincegill.com.

david freeland

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gill, Vince." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gill, Vince." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gill-vince

"Gill, Vince." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gill-vince