Luke Combs has been a longtime fan of Vince Gill, but it turns out the Country Music Hall of Fame member is a big fan of Combs as well. The two recently shared the stage to sing Gill’s 1993 hit, “One More Last Chance,” during CMA Fest last month, with their performance airing on the recent CMA Fest TV special.
“I’m the first concert Luke ever went to as a nine-year-old boy,” Gill said ahead of their collaboration. “And to find that out, I’m a fan of his talent, and he of mine, so it just makes for a great friendship. When people really get on and like each other, I think that all that can happen is something good.”
Combs isn’t the only artist from the next generation whose music Gill appreciates. The 66-year-old recently shared an impressive list of younger singer-songwriters who he is a fan of, and supportive of their music, even if it’s different from his.
“I’ve written with HARDY and I think he’s one of the best songwriters coming out,” Gill shared at a recent media event. “I’ve got a date on the books to maybe write with Ernest, Tenille Townes, a lot of kids. Kameron Marlowe‘s a killer singer. I’m wide open. I never am gonna quit being creative. And I’m not worried if anybody listens to it, if anybody cuts it. None of that stuff matters to me. I think there are a lot of kids out there that have a lot to say, and are worthwhile in what they’re doing.”
Gill knows that the current country music sounds much different than when he was a reigning hitmaker. But far from being bitter or cynical, to Gill it’s just a natural progression of the genre.
“There was a period of time where I’m sure a lot of my songs weren’t George Jones’ cup of tea, or Merle Haggard’s cup of tea,” Gill acknowledged. “Some of them weren’t. And there are a lot of kids today that some of them are, and some of them aren’t. It’s okay. It’s not personal. It’s never been personal. I cheer them on. So I’m having a ball with all these kids.”
Combs has a lot more to celebrate besides a collaboration with Gill. He recently celebrated another No. 1 hit, this one his take on Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” marking the first time a solo Black female songwriter has had a chart-topping hit at radio. Although he always loved the song, which appears on his Gettin’ Old album, the North Carolina native admits he had no idea the song would do so well for him.
“Oh man, ‘Fast Car’ has surprised me more than you can imagine,” Combs told Billboard. “Tracy Chapman wrote this perfect song that that I first heard with my dad and it has stayed with me since. I have played it in my live show now for six-plus years and everyone — I mean everyone — across all these stadiums relates to this song and sings along. That’s the gift of a supernatural songwriter.”
The CMA Fest TV special is available to stream on Hulu.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of CMA / John Russell