That tenor on the other end of the line is unmistakable.
Vince Gill, one of country music's big stars, is calling from Nashville, Tenn., where the Oklahoma native has lived for 23 years.
He's one of several country crooners who will grace Las Vegas stages during the National Finals Rodeo. Gill will be at the Las Vegas Hilton tonight through Saturday .
Gill, the son of a federal judge, is married to pop-gospel singer Amy Grant. Although he's a country star, his roots are spread all over the musical countryside - bluegrass, rock 'n' roll, jazz and country.
He's known for such hits as "Don't Let our Love Start Slippin' Away," "One More Last Chance," "I Never Knew Lonely," "Liza Jane" and "Oklahoma Swing." During his stellar career he has won 17 Grammy Awards, 18 Country Music Awards (including entertainer of the year twice and song of the year four times) and sold 22 million albums.
Gill also is reputed to be one of the nicest guys in the business.
When he treats a group of third graders from John S. Park-Edison Elementary School to a special performance and a music lesson at the Hilton on Friday morning , it won't hurt that reputation a bit.
In October, Gill released "These Days," a four-CD collection of 43 new songs. Creating the package took a year and includes a little help from two dozen or so music-business friends.
Gill talked about the venture and other topics during the telephone call.
On the four-CD set
Each CD is stylistically quite a bit different. One record is full of all kinds of rocking, greasy, funky songs - no ballads, a lot of guitar-playing not unlike a Delbert McClinton kind of record. It's got horns on a bunch of it. It rocks pretty hard. It's fun, fun for me. I've never made a record without ballads on it. I've been such a ballad singer for so long. It's a great vehicle for me to stretch out, play guitar, do a little more roadhouse, nasty and fun.
The second record is all ballads. Some are really moody. Some are real romantic. There's a duet with Diana Krall, jazz duet. Bonnie Raitt's on there. Sheryl Crow's on there. My wife, Amy, and I wrote a song on that record. There's some really beautiful string arrangements by David Campbell. One thing that Trisha Yearwood did with me is really beautiful.
The third record is kind of honky-tonk, a real traditional country-and-western record. Twin fiddles, lots of steel guitar; Buddy Emmons played on a bunch of it. Phil Everly sang a duet with me on there. We did a song that is Everly Brothers-ish, "Sweet Little Corrina " - about my daughter. Her name's Corrina. Emmylou Harris. Patty Loveless. Lee Ann Womack. It's all real traditional country stuff.
The fourth record is an acoustic record. Half bluegrass, half Americana pared down to just me and a guitar on a couple of things.
It's really a ton of guests.
On creating the package
I had time on my side. An undertaking of that size, I realized it was going to take a long time, so you weren't in any rush. Time took care of all the things that might have been an issue. I wrote everything. All the songs are new, never been recorded. All but six or seven I wrote in 2005.
On writing music
I always write a lot. The more you do what it is that you do, you're more willing to edit yourself and you realize the pitfalls of things not to say, not to write. For me, it's learning what not to sing, what not to play. For me, that saves a lot of time. The writing process isn't like you have to write 10 to get one good one anymore.
On doing another multiple-CD release
I don't think I would set out to do it - the way it happened. I never intended to do this. I'd been in the studio for about three months, just enjoying the idea of experimenting with some of these songs to see what they would turn into as records. The process kind of led me to this. I just wound up recording a lot of songs and enjoying them.
I found they kind of separated themselves. They all kind of wound up in a certain place.
The first inception was to do three records and release one every two or three months. The record company said, "We ought to just put you back in the studio and do a bluegrass record and acoustic record and put it all out at the same time." Nobody had ever really done anything quite like that before.
On his musical roots
I'm kind of all over the map, tastewise. I started out listening to real country music. Then a lot of rock 'n' roll. I was inspired by Chet Atkins, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, the Beatles. It didn't matter. The blues. I just like music.
On the studio vs. the stage
Both have a different spirit. I talk to my wife, Amy, about it all the time. I said, "The beauty of live music is that it's live. The music goes into the air and goes away, never to be heard again." There's a real freedom in that. I think that instant response you get from a crowd of fans, it's so much different than the creating and laboring of the music in the studio, where it's just you trying to be creative and make it just so.
On the road
I don't work near as much as I used to. Everybody dreams about working half as much for twice as much. Since I married Amy, I'm not traveling to the extent that I used to. There were years early on when I would work more than 200 shows a year. That's just not feasible these day. Now a normal year of 50 to 70 shows would be a hardworking year for me.
I come out pretty regularly. It's been a good place for me. Early on I would have thought that I wouldn't work real well there. It's so entertainer-oriented. My idea of it is Wayne Newton and Elvis Presley.
Then you have the Cirque du Soleil shows. Amy and I went to one a couple of years back. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my life. They let us come back and meet some of the cast. I told them, "You have no idea how inept you make me feel. All I do is stand there and sing songs."
On his show
I'll sing songs from the new album. I got this band put together, myself and 16 pieces including a horn section. Bluegrass, you name it, and we can do it. We kind of re-create all four of these records, putting some old songs with them. We do about half of each record. Touring with them has been fun. It's by far the biggest band I've been part of.
It's a pretty massive musical statement these guys are out here making with me, and I'm proud to stand up in front of them and sing the songs.