Country music star and Oklahoma native Vince Gill played for a sold-out crowd at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City Saturday night. Before the show, he sat down exclusively with us for an exclusive interview on what it means to come home.
“I think this is the first place I ever heard live music,” said Vince Gill of the Civic Center. “As a grade school kid, first or second grade, something like that, got to come here on a school trip and hear the symphony.”
Now the stage is set for country music legend to perform.
“It's still a great feeling to get to go back where you started,” he said.
Gill grew up in Oklahoma City, a Northwest Classen High School graduate who was surrounded by music, beginning with his dad.
“He played a little bit, my brother played a little bit, my mom could pay the harmonica a little bit,” Gill said. “I was just drawn to music.”
He started out playing bluegrass and writing songs locally with the group Mountain Smoke.
“The first time I ever heard myself on the radio was here in Oklahoma City, on I-40,” Gill remembers. “First record I ever made, 17 years old. I can't even begin to tell you what that meant. It just gave me this amazing sense of hope.”
From bluegrass to country, Gill made his mark on Nashville. In his 43-year career, he’s gained success selling more than 26 million albums and winning numerous awards including 21 Grammy Awards.
“I've done it forever and I don't grow tired of it you know,” he said. “I’m really grateful every time I get to sing a song.”
At 61, he's still touring, most recently with the Eagles.
“That's the joy in it for me is playing great music with great people,” Gill said. “We're playing in baseball stadiums, 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 people are showing up and I haven't done that in a long, long, long time.”
However, he says being at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City is where he feels most at home.
“I think more than anything, it just feels familiar,” he said. “I've always liked the people here, they're kind of common sense, pretty straight up good folks. It must be the red dirt or something because I can palpably feel different when I come home.”
And to his surprise, the hometown crowd filled every seat for his intimate, one night only performance.
“It feels great,” he said. “All you ever want from wherever you play, big or small, is just people to respond. It's different than making a record, it's different than radio, it's immediate. It's the greatest example of being in the moment.”
Gill is married to singer Amy Grant and between the two of them have five grown children, two of which are following in his musical footsteps.