Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams turns 78 on Saturday, but it is his legion of “Gentle Giant” fans around the globe that will receive a star-packed present Friday with the Slate Creek Records release of Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams, May 26, available HERE.
The 11-song tribute features an impressive lineup of musical innovators including Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Brandy Clark, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, Keb’ Mo’, Alison Krauss, Lady Antebellum, John Prine featuring Roger Cook, Pistol Annies, Chris Stapleton featuring Morgane Stapleton and Trisha Yearwood.
“I’m so honored to be part of Gentle Giants a tribute to Don Williams. He is such a great person, such a huge influence on so many people, and an icon in country music,” said Bentley, who contributed “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” to the album.
To celebrate the release and Williams’ extraordinary career, the Grand Ole Opry will honor the music of the legend on Tuesday night’s Opry (May 30). The evening will feature performances by Opry member Krauss, Prine, Isbell and Shires, all of whom appear on the album, as well as Darius Rucker and Bill Anderson. Find tickets to Tuesday’s tribute show HERE.
“With this record, I’m reminded of what our old friend Jack Clement used to describe as ‘magic,’ that intangible essence that happens in a recording studio where a special song meets just the right voice – accompanied by the best musicians – and voilà!” said Fundis.
And the gifts keep coming. This significant collection of country classics not only honors Williams’ numerous artistic contributions, but it also supports a great cause. All guest artist performances on the album were generously donated in support of MusiCares®, the charitable foundation created by The Recording Academy, which provides a safety net of critical assistance for those in the music field in times of need. The services cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies. The foundation will receive a majority of the proceeds from the sale of the album.
Williams, who earned his popular nickname from his 6-foot 1-inch frame and his smooth baritone, announced his retirement from performing last year, concluding an impressive five-decade career that includes two CMA Awards, two ACM Awards, and the industry’s highest honor induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
Williams’ easy laid-back style was a comfortable fit for country ballads. He charted 56 records and scored at least one major hit every year between 1974 and 1991 – including 17 No. 1s. Among his best loved songs are “Tulsa Time,” “It Must Be Love,” “Good Ole Boys Like Me,” “I Believe in You,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend,” “I Wouldn’t Want to Live If You Didn’t Love Me,” “Till the Rivers All Run Dry,” “Lay Down Beside Me,” “Love Me Over Again,” “(Turn Out the Light and) Love Me Tonight,” “Say It Again,” “Love is On a Roll,” “We Got a Good Fire Goin’,” “I Wouldn’t Be a Man,” “Then It’s Love” and “Heartbeat in the Darkness.”
Williams appeared in two movies with actor Burt Reynolds including “W.W. & the Dixie Dancekings” and the follow up to “Smokey & the Bandit.” He was enormously popular in the United states, but also built a faithful international audience and was named Artist of the Decade by readers of London-based Country Music People magazine in 1980.
“I still relish comments of how Don Williams’ music resonated with people, how personally moved many were by his songs and by his warm, honest delivery,” said Fundis. “So, you’re about to hear some of today’s most respected recording artists – Gentle Giants themselves – singing favorite Don Williams songs reminding us of another time, the man himself and the power these songs still hold for listeners today.”
Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams Track Listing:
1. “Tulsa Time” – Pistol Annies
2. “I Believe in You” – Brandy Clark
3. “We’ve Got a Good Fire Goin'” – Lady Antebellum
4. “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” – Dierks Bentley
5. “Amanda” – Chris Stapleton feat. Morgane Stapleton
6. “Till The Rivers All Run Dry” – Alison Krauss
7. “Love Is On A Roll” – John Prine feat. Roger Cook
8. “If I Needed You” – Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires
9. “Maggie’s Dream” – Trisha Yearwood
10. “Lord I Hope This Day is Good” – Keb’ Mo’
11. “Good Ole Boys Like Me” – Garth Brooks