During Tuesday’s (Feb. 6) Universal Music Group luncheon, held annually during CRS, the country music label takes over the Ryman Auditorium to showcase their roster of artists to country radio programmers and execs.
This year’s packed house included performances by Kip Moore, Jordan Davis, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, Brothers Osborne, Maddie & Tae, Eric Paslay, new artist Travis Denning, Dierks Bentley, newcomer Kassi Ashton, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban. But it was an emotional performance by Vince Gill that silenced the crowd.
Seated on a bar stool in the middle of the stage, with only a spotlight illuminating his figure, Vince shared a story he had never told before, with a performance that stunned a jaded industry crowd.
“It’s astounding what a little hope can do to inspire somebody to press on, Vince shared as he thanked radio programmers for their support. “I still have that same hope. You come up here to get to sing one song and you kind of go ‘what the hell are you going to sing.’ I think that the greatest way to live is to welcome the moment that you’re in and the time frame that you’re in.
Vince then went on to talk about the reason he chose the song, “Forever Changed,” to play in front of the industry crowd.
“I chose this song that I wrote some years ago. I never really knew where the song came from, other than we’re living in a time right now where finally people are having the courage to speak out about being abused,” Vince said. “I think that is beyond healthy and beyond beautiful to see people finally have a voice for being wronged. Maybe this song came from a personal experience for me.
“I was in seventh grade and a young dumb kid and I had a gym teacher that acted inappropriately toward me and was trying to do things that I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I was just fortunate that I got up and I ran. I just jumped up and I ran, I don’t know why and I don’t think I ever told anybody my whole life. Even what’s been going on has given me a little bit of courage to speak out too. I’m going to sing you this song that is inspired by all the people that hurt.”
“You put your hands where they don’t belong / and now innocence is dead and gone / well she feels dirty / she feels ashamed / because of you, she’s forever changed,” the song kicks off. “Too afraid to tell someone / you might as well just used a gun / she cries for Jesus to ease the pain / because of you /she’s forever changed.”
In a time when the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are on the forefront of fighting sexual harassment and sexual abuse for women, Vince Gill found the courage to speak up and tell his story, in hopes that it may help others tell theirs.