On March 30, a country music legend will perform at Windstone Entertainment Event Center in Jefferson City. More than two weeks before Gene Watson's arrival, his show sold out.
At 75 years old, Watson is recognized as one of the leading voices of classic country music and one of the rare singers who still sings in the same key he did 30 years ago. He often receives a standing ovation when nailing the octave jumping last note of his most requested song, the country classic "Farewell Party."
"I think it is so popular because it gets inside you and tears at your heartstrings. It is about a pride-filled lover where she is going to leave him or die. It is really about keeping your chin up," Watson said. "So many people identify with it, putting their life in the soul of that song. People really cry when we do that song and it touches so many people."
The native Texan has six No. 1 country hits, three No. 1 gospel hits, 23 Top Tens and more than 75 charted songs. Some of most popular songs include "Love in the Hot Afternoon," "Paper Rosie," "Should I Come Home (Or Should I Go Crazy)" and "When We Were Down to Nothing (Nothing Sure Looked Good On You)." Watson has recorded with George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Trace Adkins, Joe Nichols, Mark Chesnutt, Rhonda Vincent and Connie Smith to name a few.
His accolades prove his success in country music. Watson was inducted into the inaugural class for the Houston Texas Music Hall of Fame and is a proud member of the Texas State Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2017, Gene was awarded the prestigious title of "Entertainer of the Year" by his peers as members of the R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers) Awards voted and presented him their highest accolade. Watson and his dear friend, Opry legend, Jeannie Seely, shared the title that year. The first time ever for a tie-vote, according to a news release about Watson.
He also released his 34th studio album in December 2017, a country gospel album titled "My Gospel Roots." The first single, "Old Roman Soldier" hit No. 1 on the Country Christian charts in Cashbox and Christian Servant magazines. This is a follow up to his No. 1 gospel hit last year, "Help Me," which is also on "My Gospel Roots," the news release said.
Watson said he is in the process working on an original album, calling it "Outside The Box."
"I'm traditional country music, but there are other types of music I really like. I would like to pick some songs — such as rhythm and blues — and include that material on this upcoming album," he said.
Known as "The Singer's Singer," Watson enjoys touring the United States delivering a traditional country show to fans of pure country. His voice, honesty, and love and appreciation for his fans are why Watson continues to sell out shows.
"I truly believe what I have is what He (God) gave me. Whether it is me or the good Lord above, I can still sing in the same keys I recorded those songs in," Watson said. "The audience is such a big part of our show. I play everything off the cuff and have no setlist. It is all spontaneous, playing to each audience as they respond to my music. Each and every show is custom made for the audience."
Windstone Entertainment Event Center has a slew of big entertainers like Watson performing this year, including Squeezebox featuring Mollie B and Ted Lange on April 26; Jeannie Kendall & Carl Acuff Jr. on May 4; Marty Haggard: A Tribute to My Dad, Merle Haggard on May 10; The Heart of Texas on June 21; and Rhonda Vincent and The Rage on Oct. 13.