Since 1981, Kenny Rogers has delighted audiences with his annual Christmas tour, and though the singer will be calling it a day from the road in 2016, he is going out with a bang.
Taking to the promotional circuit to promote his latest Warner Brothers album Once Again It’s Christmas, the singer paid a visit to the American Midwest on Monday night (November 30) with a stop in Terre Haute, Indiana at the Hulman Center on the campus of Indiana State University. The evening proved to be a nostalgic look back through many of the records that have made him a household name and a mostly reverent look at the holiday season.
As usual, Rogers split the evening between his classics and Yuletide offerings. Kicking off the first part of the night with a 1978 trip back in time with the rollicking “Love Or Something Like It,” (one of the few singles that his name appears on as a writer), the Country Music Hall of Fame member delighted with a mixture of stories from his legendary career and the classics. He also played on the fact that at age 77, his stage movements aren’t as plentiful as they once were. The fans didn’t seem to mind, joining Rogers by singing along with many of his classic hits, such as “Lucille,” “Coward Of The County,” and “You Decorated My Life.” He also gave fans a nod to his signature song, Don Schlitz’s “The Gambler,” complete with a screen backdrop of the five TV-movies that Rogers made based on the song from 1980 through 1994. He closed out the opening part of the night with his back-to-back number one Pop hits, “Lady,” and “Islands In The Stream.”
The Christmas portion of the evening allowed Rogers to share the spotlight with some other talented musical artists. The timeless (and ageless) Linda Davis helped to anchor the set, kicking things off with a lively performance of “I Believe In Santa Claus” (from the 1984 Once Upon A Christmas duet album with Dolly Parton) along with a group of small children. Davis also joined Rogers on a powerful take on “Mary, Did You Know,” which he recorded in 1996 with Wynonna. Davis’s voice soared into the stratosphere on the song. Also making their presence known was the guest choir for the night, the Counterpoints – from local Terre Haute North Vigo High School – who were spot on with their performance, under the leadership of Michelle Azar. The ensemble performed “Go Tell It On The Mountain” with Davis, while Rogers returned to the stage for the closer, a harmony-laden version of “Joy To The World,” which sent the crowd into the Indiana night firmly looking forward to the holidays on the last evening of November.
Whether this will be the last Christmas roundup for Rogers, or whether he will make one more run next year as part of his farewell tour is unknown at this time, but the singer demonstrated his continued warmth and vitality once again – in a very intimate setting – proving why he is continuously regarded as one of the greats!