Okies share Grammys experiences ahead of show
Two Oklahoma natives will be competing for golden gramophones when the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards are finally handed out Sunday night.
Vince Gill is nominated for his 47th Grammy Award. Luke Dick is nominated for his first.
“I just grew up watching the Grammys as a kid and that being some kind of a benchmark in my head. You don’t know how values get imprinted to you, but all I know is that when I watched the Grammys, that seemed to be the biggest deal, the biggest achievement, that your music could achieve, because it’s across the genres,” Dick said in a phone interview.
“When I was a kid, we didn’t have cable, we didn’t have MTV — MTV was just booting up, and ‘Thriller’ came out — so the Grammys was the one time a year I could see music on television. ... To think so many years later that they would at least say your name on on the Grammy Awards, that’s a pretty big deal to the 5-year-old kid and 6-year- old kid in me waiting for Michael Jackson or Guns ‘n Roses to get something.”
Delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grammy Awards will air live from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday on CBS. Billed as “music’s biggest night,” the show will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+, too.
Hosted by Trevor Noah, the performers will include Dick’s co-nominee, former Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert, plus Bad Bunny, Black Pumas, Cardi B, BTS, Brandi Carlile, DaBaby, Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, Mickey Guyton, Haim, Brittany Howard, Lil Baby, Dua Lipa, Chris Martin, John Mayer, Megan Thee Stallion, Maren Morris, Post Malone, Roddy Ricch, Harry Styles and Taylor Swift.
‘Equally as important and special’
Starting in 1990, when he won for best male country vocal performance for his smash ballad “When I Call Your Name,” Gill, who was born in Norman and grew up in Oklahoma City, has earned 21 golden gramophone trophies, making him the male country artist with the most Grammy victories.
“It’s a funny thing: I’ve lost Grammys to some of the greatest artists that have ever lived, and I’ve won Grammys against some of the greatest artists that ever lived. So, it’s all good,” Gill said with a laugh in a phone interview last week.
“I never thought I’d win the first Grammy I won 30-something years ago, and I never think I’m ever gonna win another one. ... I think for somebody like Luke who’s got his first nomination, it’s the most amazing feeling. He probably wouldn’t believe it, but I would tell him, ‘This one might be my last, so it has every every reason to be equally as important and special to me.’”
The singer, songwriter and musician is nominated this year for best country solo performance for his deeply personal song, “When My Amy Prays,” a tuneful tribute to his wife, contemporary Christian hitmaker Amy Grant, from his latest studio album, 2019’s “Okie.”
“The whole record is really honest, it’s really truthful, it’s emotional. It’s a lot of hard subjects. It seems age appropriate: All these songs that are on this record, I couldn’t have written those songs 20 years ago, 40 years ago. I had to live enough life and have enough experience for those kinds of songs to show up. I’ve obviously been shown the door of hit records and country radio and all that many years ago, and so with that comes a freedom, that I can kind of choose to say whatever I would like to say in a song,” Gill said.
“It’s not all geared so much toward trying to be a hit song — and this certainly wasn’t a hit song. It’s just an emotional, honest song that honors my bride in a way, but also, I think, the real power of the song is the vulnerability in it in the way I paint myself. ... Being married to someone so publicly faith-based as Amy is, I think then (people) automatically assume I am, too, and that’s just not quite the case. ... So, I kind of lean on Amy a lot for some of that kind of stuff, and that’s basically what the song is.”
Although he has been in the music business for five decades, Gill, 63, said it’s still exciting to get a Grammy nod.
“It always feels great. You know, it’s an easy answer. Anybody that does this, I don’t think the majority of people do it to get famous. I think they’re really moved by music and all they want is somebody to hear it and respond to it. And that’s really, I feel like, what I’ve always done,” Gill said.
“Music has always felt like to a conversation to me, and if it only went one way and never came back, you know, it probably wouldn’t be as interesting. But the fact that someone else finds their way to be drawn to whatever it is to do on whatever level — I’ll never forget the first time I got, I heard myself playing and singing on the radio at 17 living in Oklahoma City at home with my folks. I can even still remember how it felt, and I’m not jaded. ... Even after all these years, it’s not something I expect — or take for granted.”
‘Speaks to my love of music from a very young age’
Dick, who was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in the tiny farming community of Cogar, is nominated with Natalie Hemby and Lambert for best country song as the co-writers of Lambert’s uplifting smash “Bluebird.” Lambert also nominated for best country solo performance for the hopeful hit, and best country album for “Wildcard,” her collection that includes “Bluebird” and four other songs she penned with Dick.
“There’s something that’s really personal about it to me, and, and speaks to my love of music from a very young age,” Dick said of his first Grammy nod.
“There’s a handful of artists out there that you click with, and with Miranda, to me, it’s such a personal creative friendship — a kinship, I guess. With her and Natalie, when we’re writing together, we’re excited about what the others are going to bring to the table. And Miranda has such a wit and a language about her that I feel like I can contribute to and also have fun with and explore and discover things about yourself and the little corners of your brain that you didn’t know were there.”
Although he and his co-writers couldn’t have predicted how much the world would need an optimistic anthem in 2020 — his Nashville, Tennessee, neighborhood was ravaged by a tornado just days before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States — Dick said there was a sense when they penned “Bluebird” that it had the potential to soar.
“It felt amazing to write that song, and then it also felt amazing to let it go out into the world and see what people did with it and how it landed with other people out there. It’s a real joy. ... That makes you feel not so alone in the world,” Dick said.
Although he and Hemby performed “Bluebird” with Lambert on the Academy of Country Music Awards last fall, the Oklahoma native said he wouldn’t be playing the Grammys with his superstar pal. Instead, he plans to watch from home Sunday with his family.
“I’ll see if my television can get network somehow through my Roku. I guess I’m gonna figure that out,” he said.