During his storied career in country music, Vince Gill has consistently set the bar higher and higher for himself.
The singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist has recorded more than 17 studio albums, sold more than 26 million copies and won 20 Grammys and 18 CMA Awards. The two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year is the only man to ever win five consecutive CMA Male Vocalist of the Year awards and the only songwriter to win Song of the Year four times.
Those winning songs -- "When I Call Your Name," "Look At Us," "I Still Believe In You" and "Go Rest High On That Mountain" -- were among the stellar compositions that led to Gills 2005 induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Two years later, he became one of the youngest performers ever inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Then he achieved the seemingly impossible he raised the bar again. In 2006, Gill released the ambitious and unprecedented four-CD, 43-song album called These Days, which garnered an overall Grammy Album of the Year nomination and won the 2006 Grammy for Best Country Album. USA Today ranked him the No. 1 "Most Prolific Artist," and numerous media outlets proclaimed the platinum-selling project the years best.
With that tremendous level of success, how on earth would Gill be able to follow up such a landmark project? Quite well, as it turns out. Guitar Slinger is the perfect next step in Gills singing and songwriting sojourn. The strength of the new project comes from making a 180-degree turn from his earlier winning blueprint. Whereas the previous project was big and bold, Guitar Slinger is personal and poignant. Yet it remains equally potent. Its a collection of songs about love, reflection, redemption and spirituality, including three of the most powerful songs of his career "Threaten Me With Heaven," "Bread And Water" and "If I Die." During the best time of his life, hes making the best music hes ever made, and it remains quintessential Vince Gill.
As hard as he is to please, Gill likes how the CD turned out. "I think the songs are better, I play better, I sing better and it sounds better," he says. "Everythings improving thats supposed to. I feel like if there is a place I can improve most, it would be in writing songs, and these songs seem to have grown a notch from those on the last record. There are some beautiful, powerful songs here. Theres fun and tons of guitar playing. The first half of this record is as much about guitar playing as anything else, with long, extended and different styles of solos."
Gill says his main goal now is just to get better. "I have an interesting reaction to the Hall of Fame induction," he explains. "Most people would surmise, OK, Ive accomplished that. I can go relax and take it easy. Ive accomplished the greatest of whatever it is I could possibly accomplish. It has the reverse effect on me: it made me want to go earn it and fortify my place in the Hall. I say, OK, now I want to prove to myself and to everybody else that it was warranted and good."