Vince Gill really is the closest thing that country music has to the five-tool baseball player. He can do it all. As a solo artist, he’s a Country Music Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry stalwart. He can throw a high harmony on any song and make it shine, or turn in a guitar solo that is good or better than any session player. He’s an incredible songwriter. And by all accounts, Vince Gill is a good dude as well.
Gill is also about the only guy you can slot on a tour with The Eagles and not look at him sideways. In fact, it’s strangely perfect, especially when you consider the time Vince did in the legendary country rock band Pure Prairie League before launching his own career. Country, classic rock, bluegrass, Western Swing from fronting The Time Jumpers all those years, Vince Gill can do it all.
But over the last year or so, Vince Gill has added another item to his repertoire, and one where his wide array of talents has come into good use: he’s become one of the most available and sought-after collaborators in all of country music. From Wade Bowen’s recent Saving Country Music Song of the Year nominee “A Guitar, A Singer and A Song,” to the heart-wrenching title track to Sunny Sweeney’s recent album Married Alone, to Drake Milligan’s “Goin’ Down Swinging” from his SCM Album of the Year-nominated Dallas/Fort Worth, it’s often the involvement of Vince Gill that puts these already incredible artists and excellent songs over-the-top.
Getting Vince Gill to guest on your song or album comes with a two-fold benefit. Not only do you get to showcase his talent on the track, it also adds a level of legitimacy and attention to whatever is happening. You know if Vince Gill signed off on it, it’s probably something good. Aaron Lewis is a pretty polarizing artist due to some of his political statements, but his song “They Call Me Doc” about military medics written by veterans is hard to not root for. Bringing in Vince Gill with Dan Tyminski to add harmonies completes that track.
That’s the thing about Vince Gill. He may be prolific in his recent collaborations while remaining principled and picky, but he shows no discrimination when it comes to who he will work with. He’s too above that. When pop country’s Brantley Gilbert came calling for the opening track on his recent album called “Heaven By Then,” he accepted that call. Gill is all over Keb’ Mo’s recent album Good To Be as a producer, guitar player, and harmonizer.
Sometimes the song comes with “(feat. Vince Gill)’ in the track list, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes his collaborations are more passive, like in the role as a contributing songwriter such as on the recent Dailey & Vincent Album Let’s Sing Some Country! when they covered Vince’s “Young Man’s Town,” or Cody Johnson’s Human: The Double Album that featured Gill’s “Son of a Ramblin’ Man.”
In the last year, Vince Gill also sang with Ann Wilson of Heart on the song “Love of My Life,” and worked on an interesting project with Michael Feinstein reimagining the Gershwin songbook into country songs called Gershwin Country. There, Vince Gill sang on the song “Fascinating Rhythm” with The Time Jumpers. Vince Gill collaborations are nothing new. He’s always been willing to work with others, and doesn’t need the spotlight on him the whole time. But in the last couple of years, it’s like he’s sought those opportunities out.
In 2023, Vince Gill will be spending more time on the road as The Eagles have rebooted their Hotel California tour that got crimped in part due to the pandemic, so his rate of collaborations may decrease slightly. And though it’s great to see Gill’s name in the liner notes of so many projects, a few are wondering when a new album may be coming from him. His last solo release Okie from 2019 resulted in him winning his 22nd Grammy Award for Best Country Solo Performance for the song “When My Amy Prays.”
But whether a new album from Vince Gill is in the works or not, you know you’ll be hearing from him sooner than later, and probably playing or singing with somebody cool, putting the finishing touch on a killer song.