Iconic, award-winning singer Crystal Gayle performs to full house at the Bosque Arts Center’s Frazier Performance Hall; 2021 Texas Troubadour Sadie Self opens in the Tin Building Theatre
CLIFTON – Rolling Stone Magazine calls this country-pop songbird a “sparkling diamond in a rhinestone world.” And sparkle Crystal Gayle did at the Bosque Arts Center’s Frazier Performance Hall Saturday, June 24. Showing off her signature calf-length hair, her rhinestone-studded attire glittering in the spotlight, the immensely popular crossover artist brought her mix of Country-Pop music, her charming giggle and a great show to the stage.
The sellout audience in the Frazier Performance Hall was elated to hear the much-awarded singer/songwriter – accompanied by her sister Peggy Sue Wright as back-up singer and an amazing six-piece band of top-notch musicians – bring a set list of 28 beloved classic songs from the 1970s and 1980s to the stage. Many of the evening’s songs were from Crystal’s most recent album “You Don’t Know Me,” which was co-produced with her son Chris.
“They don’t write them like they used to,” said Gayle, explaining that many of the songs on the album had her reliving the earlier days in her career, showing her strong connection to vintage country music. “I wanted to show my son what real country music is; for him to know the songs I sang growing up that meant something to me. When I look back, there are so many good memories.”
Born Brenda Gail Webb on Jan. 9, 1951 Crystal – the youngest of eight children – had many musical siblings. Her mother said she could sing before she could walk, and Crystal knew at a very young age that she was going to be a singer/songwriter too. With encouragement from her sister, the legendary Country Music singer Loretta Lynn, the very shy teenager began touring with her brothers’ bands during summers in high school.
When Loretta fell ill just before a Grand Ole Opry performance, Crystal got her first big stage debut, singing Marty Robbins's "Ribbon of Darkness” in her sister’s place. That song is on the “You Don’t Know Me,” album, and Crystal performed it on the Clifton stage. Another fun throwback, and honoring their sister Loretta, was Peggy Sue singing the country classics “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”
In a duet, after some joking and bantering, Crystal and Peggy Sue did a lively Buck Owens tribute including “Together Again,” Tiger by the Tail,” “Crying Time,” and “Act Naturally.”
The mix of age groups in the audience, proved that great songs and good music are timeless and their popularity spans over generations. With the songs, beloved memories came flooding back. The Zuelke’s have been Crystal Gayle fans for 40-plus years. The Hendersons are thrilled that their children and grandchildren are learning to appreciate the Golden Oldies of their generation. And the Hyman’s enjoyed the fact that with this quality concert the BAC offered them an exceptional evening out.
“As a musician, I was very impressed with the band,” local Country/Western musician Chad Holt of Chad and the Chizlers said. “They were first class.”
As a Texan, Holt loved that the fiddle drove the songs the whole time – and even took the spotlight for and incredible upbeat “Orange Blossom Special” – and he loved the multi-talented Bluejay Patton playing the saxophone, the rhythm guitar and mandolin. The concert brought back memories of when he was a 10-year-old boy seeing Gayle in concert in Nacogdoches. For him, she was just as impressive now as she was then when he was ten.
“She might have lost some volume and register with age, but she still put on an excellent show,” Holt said. “We are so very fortunate in our small town to see these big name performers in such an intimate setting for an affordable ticket price. I had a lot of fun.”
Holt additionally enjoyed seeing Sadie Self, the evening’s support act. Prior to the main concert, Self treated the audience filling the Tin Building Theatre with the Texas-inspired songs that won her the 2021 Texas Troubadour Singer/Songwriter of the Year. She also won the People’s Choice award with her ambling-along song “Deep in my Texas Heart,” with which she ended her performance on Saturday.
Gayle made her debut on Decca Records with “I’ve Cried the Blue (Right Out of My Eyes)” penned by her sister Loretta Lynn. While she wrote songs for Gayle, Lynn advised Gayle from the beginning not to sing any of her signature songs and to find her own style and voice. When signing with United Artists at 24, together with Producer Allen Reynolds, Gayle found her own softer, mellower voice and Middle-of-the-Road style.
Making the audience wait until the end of the concert on Saturday, Gayle finally sang her 1977 Grammy Award winning crossover hit and signature song “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” that cemented her success with a wider audience. The song was recorded in a single take and the album made Gayle the first female country artist to go platinum. The single also brought Gayle international success, and she followed it up with more pop crossovers like “Talking in Your Sleep,” “Half the Way,” and “You and I,” a 1982 duet with Eddie Rabbitt.
Prefacing another beautiful, soulful song Reynolds wrote for her, "Ready for the Times to Get Better,” Gayle said, “We can be a lot better than we are.”
While the 1978 song is about life and love, its lyrics “It's been a too long time, with no peace of mind. And I'm ready for the times to get better,” now express a general public sentiment of hope, for the world’s present unrest to settle down. The song was the fourth single from the album Crystal, and it was Gayle’s fourth number one on the U.S Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
Acknowledging her place as one of the great female country music artists, Gayle performed in the of the 2019, 53rd Country Music Awards opening medley with musical sisters from all decades Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Nettles, Tanya tucker, Gretchen Wilson, Terri Clark, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman. The medley was a tribute to women in country music. Her older sister Lynn was in the audience. And just a little observation – Gayle wore the same glitzy boots she wore to the 53rd CMA’s to the Clifton stage.
Further acknowledgements for her musical quality and fame, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Gayle among the 100 greatest country artists of all time and Country Music Television ranked her within their list of the 40 greatest women of country music. Gayle has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2017 by her sister Loretta.
"I call myself a singer of songs,” Gayle said in a 2007 interview. “I love to sing, whether it's country, folk, pop or rock. I grew up singing all different styles, though definitely country is my roots."
At 71, the 1970s signature songbird carries on, doing what she loves to do, singing songs, touring regularly, preferably with family. After Clifton, the band continued their Texas Tour to Brenham and Tomball. Besides having her sister on stage with her, Gayle is assisted on tour by her husband and business manager Bill Gatzimos, her high school sweetheart. He could be seen organizing and making sure things ran smoothly at the BAC. Another family member, grandson Elijah helped out selling merchandise.
Closing up the concert in which many of her musicians showed their talents and virtuosity with impressive solos, Gayle made sure the audience left in an invigorated mood with a jazzy “That’s What I like about the South”, an upbeat gospel medley with “I Saw the Light,” I’ll Fly Away” & “Call Him Up” and the frantic tempo of Tennessee Bluegrass “Rocky Top.”
Thanks for the wonderful memories, Crystal Gayle – for giving us a rhinestone-studded concert to remember and for bringing back sparkling sweet memories of days gone by.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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