By: Sarah J. McNally
The first time I ever saw Kenny Rogers perform he kicked off his set with his hit “You Decorated My Life.” Next to me an older couple began to dance, singing every word along with Kenny, and I noticed that both of them were crying. After the song ended I asked the couple why they were crying. They said it was their wedding anniversary and they had heard the song on their first date together and, of course, on their wedding day as well. While I was touched by their story and happy to be in the same audience as true Kenny fans, it was at that moment that I realized just how long Kenny Rogers has been around. The man has been performing and recording since the 1950s, so no wonder he has such a following.
Last Saturday night in Nashville, Kenny Rogers took the stage for a record crowd of 60,000 at the CMA Music Festival. His sold out shows seemed to deliver a lifetime of his best work and completely blew away his devoted fans. Later on, in true Kenny Rogers fashion, he continued his fantastic performances at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN on Sunday. You would think that after more than 50 years in the business, Rogers would have a limited supply of tricks left in his bag, but the veteran surprised his audience with a special performance of “Lady” with longtime friend Lionel Richie. I’m pretty sure the crowd is still cheering. If that weren’t impressive enough, Rogers also performed with legendary band Phish to sing one of his biggest hits, “The Gambler.” Following these performances, Billboard Magazine tossed out words like “Spellbinding,” and “Breathtaking,” but I have a feeling this was just Kenny being Kenny.
With so many players in the country music game these days it’s easy to sometimes forget the best of the best, but Kenny Rogers is dedicated to staying on top, and he’s doing it without forgetting his roots. Just recently, Kenny dedicated an equally magical performance of “The Gambler” at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York City in honor of dear friend, Don Schlitz. While there is lots of success under the belt-buckle of Kenny Rogers, we can expect a lot more. Rogers’s world tour kicks off on July 13th in Myrtle Beach, SC, and his autobiography will be released this October. But wait, there’s more! Rogers will join top-charters like Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban in the studio to begin producing a new album with Warner Bros. Records later this summer.
Kenny Rogers has come a long way with country music but he just keeps plugging along. He is truly the definition of a country rock star, and for most of us that have seen him live, leaving an impact on all generations, we know that the next steps of his career will be nothing short of legendary.