REVIEW - Crystal Gayle is known for many things. Her luxurious long black hair might be her most apparent and most striking feature upon first glance. She is also the baby sister to Nashville legend Loretta Lynn. Younger generations who don't know her music may recognize her name and t-shirt from the movie Talladega Nights, a famous Will Ferrell flick from 2006. Gayle is also known for her number one singles like "Talking in Your Sleep", Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For" and arguably her most famous song "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue".
Gayle performed at the Meskwaki Bingo and Casino Convention Center on Friday July 11 to a packed house (the convention center holds roughly 1200 people).
As the band started to play an instrumental rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" the energy in the room started to heat up. Ms. Gayle made her appearance on stage decked out in an all black ensemble with some sparkle. For anyone who is wondering as to whether she still has her long hair; the answer is yes. She looks stunning and I don't just say that because she is 63. Crystal Gayle was and still is beautiful.
Crystal Gayle singing with band member Blue Jay Patton.
Not only does she look great but she sounds great too. Her voice is as strong as ever. For an audience that was very diverse, there was really something for everyone. Along with being known for her hair and her country music heritage, what is even more interesting is that Crystal Gayle was one of country music's first crossover artists. These days it is no surprise to see artists like Taylor Swift and Sheryl Crow cross over from country to pop and vice versa. Those artists really have Ms. Gayle to thank for helping to pave the way. Gayle did much of her crossover work between the years of 1977-1989 with hits like "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue".
The concert set list ranged from traditional country and western tunes to more sentimental jazz ballads like "Talking In Your Sleep".
Ms. Gayle also proved to be an excellent storyteller as she regaled the audience with stories of her childhood. She was the only baby of eight children to be born in a hospital. When she was just four years old her family moved from Butcher Holler, Kentucky to Indiana. Family was and still is an important part of her life. Gayle's current tour is very much a family affair as she is joined by her sister Peggy Sue on stage, managed by her husband Bill Gatzimos, and helped out by her grandson who takes care of the merchandise. Music was always a part of her life. While growing up in Indiana, Gayle spoke of singing on stage with different artists such as Buck Owens. Gayle, with help from sister Peggy Sue, sang a medley of Owens's hits including "Act Naturally".
Speaking of Peggy Sue, she has some chops of her own. The sisters sang a brief rendition of "Coal Miner's Daughter" a song made famous by older sister Loretta Lynn. Along with helping her younger sister sing, Peggy Sue is a jokester who helped provide much of the comedic relief throughout the night.
Gayle was very gracious with her fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures after the show. She also dedicated the song "There Is A Rainbow" written by band member Blue Jay Patton (who can really rock a recorder), to Roger and Garnie Workheiser from Galesburg, Illinois who were in town celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Garnie wrote Ms. Gayle a note telling her it was their anniversary and Gayle was very sweet to sing a special song for the couple.
Whether she is singing country, jazz, pop, or an old hymn she is a lovely person to speak with and listen to. The great Crystal Gayle still has the "it" factor.