Back in the ‘90s up until today, many of us can remember singing along with country music star John Michael Montgomery. Whether it was with the radio blaring as we drove along country dirt roads, a boom box sitting on a blanket at the beach or at home playing our own CD collection, we’ve been there.
This time, we can listen to John Michael right here in Statesboro as he visits the Georgia Southern University Performance Arts Center Sept. 8.
John Michael says he’s looking forward to visiting Statesboro. He loves small towns with their unique attractions, he said as he spoke with Connect Statesboro from his hometown in Nicholasville, Ken., recently.
When his first hit single rocked the charts in the early 90’s, everybody loved “Life is a Dance.” It resonated with them, and hits like “I Swear,” “SOLD (Grundy County Auction),’ ‘I Can Love You Like That,” “Letters from Home” and “Be My Baby Tonight” followed to make Montgomery’s music classic — ageless songs that are yet enjoyed today by people his kids’ age, he said.
But what is he doing today? Well — he is still touring, just not as much. “I’m doing 50 to 60 shows year, down from 150 a year,” he said. “I’ve been enjoying life, raising kids, being with my family.”
That’s a good idea, since he has over 16 million albums sold, with 15 number one hits singles, and many awards under his belt including three Country Music Association (CMA), four ACM (Academy of Country Music) one American Music awards and two Grammy nominations.
But John Michael isn’t finished yet. He is playing with the idea of a 25th anniversary album collaboration, including remakes of his hits as well as covers and duos with current artists such as Chris Stapleton, he said.
In the midst of a new era for country music, a breath of ‘recent classic” country may be refreshing.
His opinion of “current” country music is neither negative nor positive. “It is what it is,” he said. He recalled the “Urban Cowboy” phase that had staunch country fans discombobulated for a while, but then “all of a sudden this man named Randy Travis came along and the new generation ate it up.”
Some may not like today’s “new” country music, but like all phases, it will likely pass. “A lot of labels copy successful artists and (the results) end up all sounding the same,” he said.
Montgomery comes from a family rich with country music history. His parents were musicians and his brother Eddie is the “Montgomery” in Montgomery Gentry, another popular country duo with its own brand of success.
His musical influences range from Lionel Richie, George Strait and Alabama to Hank Williams Jr., and Bob Seger.
Music from those artists is still alive and kicking and John Michael feels honored to have his hits rank right up there with them on the classic country charts. He gets a kick when he hears younger fans — his children’s age (late teens and early 20’s) tune in to his kind of music.
“My kids all of a sudden started playing songs from when I was their age. My daughter came in jamming to Journey.”
Good music always comes back and young kids rediscover it as classic music, he said. “It’s kind of fun to see it come full circle when they listen to music you made and listened to when they were a little bitty baby, and to hear them say ‘Oh my gosh, I grew up on your music.’ It makes me feel old and good at the same time.”
Montgomery will perform Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the GSU Performing Arts Center.
Tickets are $26 for regular adult, $12 children under 18. GSU students tickets are discounted a $10, and faculty and staff tickets are $22. There are group discounts as well, and more information about purchasing tickets online may be found at www.georgiasouthernedu./pac, or by calling (912) 478-7999.