I'm up early this morning with a lot on my mind as I begin to pack for the country music cruise with Vince Gill, The Oak Ridge Boys, Charley Pride, Brenda Lee and so many other great artists. It is a double blessing to know that when you entertain, you'll be entertaining for and with so many of your friends. I'm excited about the week (and year) ahead!
2016 was a whirlwind year for me. It's amazing how fast it went. I'm thankful I have a wife who takes pictures because I can look back at those photos and think “I really did that....That really happened.”
As of this writing, I am The AWA (Academy of Western Artists) Instrumentalist of The Year. What an honor! It was so much fun to make the trip to Ft Worth to accept that award, and while I was there, to play with some of the best musicians in the world. A Texas picker is a country shuffle's best friend.
2016 was filled with opportunities that I could have only imagined a few years back...television interviews, radio interviews, hosting The Midnight Jamboree to a full house on WSM Radio, having my albums in The Ernest Tubb Record Shop, being a part of The Daily & Vincent Show, performing on Larry's Country Diner, and serving as Music Director for The Inspirational Country Music Awards for the 12th year in a row. Wow! Just WOW!
I signed with i2i Records last year and recorded my first gospel album That Old Time Religion nominated this year for Country Album of the Year. This project was a heart project of mine. Some of my earliest years behind a piano were spent playing gospel music with a group called The Harris Family out of Peoria, Illinois...back when my young heart came to know and love Jesus and Jerry Lee—in that order.
My first single Let's All Go Down To The River –a duet with Mandy Barnett--is currently #15 in Cash Box Magazine. I have a top twenty hit on The Christian Covenant Chart, and my album will be featured in next month's issue of Power Source Magazine. I've also begun to play my gospel music in churches across the country. Every time I play for a congregation, I pray that those in attendance will receive a blessing from my music, but every time I play, I drive away believing it was I who received the greatest blessing from the congregation.
Whew! I made so many new friends this past year performing our country show on the road and here in Nashville. Thank you all for coming out and seeing us. You'll never know how much your support means to us. It keeps us going!
I've especially enjoyed playing those intimate evening shows with Jeannie Seely...just Jeannie, me and a piano. We've had more fun performing together than should be allowed. Of course you could have fun watching paint dry with Jeannie.
I'm looking forward to performing more shows with Seely in 2017. It's an incredible feeling to know you're sharing a stage with one of your best friends. (It doesn't hurt that your friend is a Grammy Award winner and a soon-to-be 50 year veteran of The Grand Ole Opry.)
Bookings are still coming in for 2017. I'm honored to be a featured entertainer at The ROPE luncheon this year for Fan Fest. And I'm already looking forward to October when I return to Lake of The Ozarks and perform with the Genuine Country Music Association.
I've also been invited back to play Two Rivers Campground on Sunday nights starting in May. I love playing Two Rivers when I'm in town. We have a blast and meet so many wonderful people from all over the world over the course of a season...many of those people have become good friends.
If all goes as planned, I hope to have a pretty cool announcement to make soon about a series of events I'll be playing in 2017 that has the potential to change lives. All I can say for now is it's in God's hands....but then again, it's ALL in His hands.
Again, my heart is filled with gratitude for your support, friendship and love. God bless you all...and I hope to see you all down the road soon. Here's to a bright and beautiful 2017 performing great country music, singing songs of praise, laughing out loud and enjoying life!