Rhonda Vincent on George Jones’s passing

Rhonda Vincent shared this lovely remembrance of the late George Jones, which she has also published on her web site.

I sit here overcome with sadness, as the news of the passing of George Jones seems to overwhelm my every thought.

A song involuntarily comes from my lips…..and soon they’ll carry him away…..he stopped loving her today. That single song consumes my mind, my heart hurts, and my eyes continue to well up with teardrops.

Such a powerful testament of how the talent of one man’s voice can resonate through your life, affecting you in ways you never imagined.

My personal encounters and experiences with George Jones are monumental, and moments I will never forget.

My first meeting was unexpected and one of my most embarrassing. It was 1994, and George Jones was playing at the Opryland Theme Park in Nashville, TN. In the middle of his show, he started talking about a lady whose singing they loved. As I anxiously watched to see who was about to be introduced, I heard my name called.

It was one of those moments that even though it was my name; I still thought it was someone else. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was sitting on the front row, and George motioned for me to come up on the stage. In my frozen state of shock, I climbed like a monkey up and on to the stage. All I knew was George Jones was calling me to his stage, and I had to get there.

As I managed to crawl up to the stage and stand by George, he told the audience that he and his band loved the song I’m Not Over You, and asked me to sing it, as the steel kicked it off and the band started to play. I sang the song, and after my performance, fiddler Jimmy Buchanan motioned that I could walk backstage to return to my seat. It was only at that moment, I realized I had just literally crawled on stage with George Jones.

A few years later, George gave me an opportunity that ended up bringing an important clarification to my career, and an answer to an ongoing question. When performing with my family, The Sally Mountain Show, people would often comment that my voice was so country; and that I should be singing country music. When I made my first country album on Giant Records in 1994, one of the first things they ask me to do was “get the bluegrass out of my voice.” So for many years I was confused. Was I country or was I bluegrass?

After two country music albums on Giant Records, I put my first bluegrass band together in 2000. George invited us to open some of his shows. We jumped at this incredible opportunity. It was a dream come true. The first show was in Salem, Virginia. After our show, we sold our CDs and people were yelling, “We love your country music!”

Country Music, I thought….but I just sang with a bluegrass band?

It was then and there I realized my voice was the same, only the instrumentation different, and the answer to the question was in the ears of the listener.

George offered yet another life time experience, when I sang harmony on 5 songs for the duet project by George Jones and Merle Haggard titled Kickin’ The Footlights Out….Again. Singing with George and Merle together on the same song, was the ultimate singing experience.

In 2011, after an appearance on RFD-TV’s Larry’s Country Diner, I received a call from Nancy Jones, saying George loved our song, and when could he get a CD. I personally delivered a CD to George at his home the next day. We arrived at the gate, the gate opened, and we drove around the winding property till we arrived in front of the George Jones mansion. By the front door was a sign reading, “Forget the dog; beware of the wife!”

We rang the doorbell, and a gentleman answered. (We later found he was Nancy’s brother.) He told us to follow him. We walked down a winding hallway, and the next thing we knew, we were standing in George Jones’s bedroom. The man yelled, “Hey George, your friends are here.” We were seated in the sunroom, and waited anxiously till George came in. We enjoyed a wonderful visit, and one of the greatest compliments of my career was during this time, when George asked me how I moved the notes in the song he loved from the TV show. He even sang part of it. I couldn’t believe it. I was awstruck sitting next to George Jones hearing him sing the lines of my song.  That was the last time I saw him, and the last notes I ever heard him sing.

We love you George! Rest in Peace!