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Remembering George Jones by Rhonda Vincent

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 of whom they loved her singing. 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 ask 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 of the duet project by George Jones and Merle Haggard titled "Kickin' The Footlights Out....Again".  http://countrymusic.about.com/od/cdreviewsal/fr/GeorgeMerleKOFA.htm

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 ask 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 awe struck 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!

Alan D Hawkins
WOW!!!! I don't know what else to say, Rhonda. How LUCKY could one person be? The Possum loved your music and talent. It don't get no better than that. I know I still have tears in my eyes from the time I heard of his passing. I thought he would be around forever maybe ignoring the fact of life that no one does but one doesn't think of that. It seems life has changed so much in my older years. I thank God for people like George and what he did for country music. No doubt. the sweetest voice to ever grace country music. May he rest in peace. Alan D Hawkins
Rhonda that is wonderful !!! I started listening to George Jones as a child with my dad. I have continued to love George's music!!
Bob Compere
A beautiful tribute, Rhonda.  I saw George Jones live for the first time in 1972, and he had already released 35 albums. His "opening acts" were Sonny James, Tom T Hall, and Tammy Wynette. I've been a fan ever since. There are some shoes that will never be filled ...
Lean être
That is such great memories!
Very Nice! Thank-you
RIP George, You will be missed...
Gary Davis
Memories that will always stay in your heart,so great to have knowing no one can take away.
Gary Meyer
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful memories of George Jones. I grew up listening to him. The first recording I ever heard of his was "White Lightning". He is what real country music is all about.
Royal Morehead
Your words expressed so much about the man and how he admired the songs of others, and I think he especially loved your strong, sweet voice. What an opportunity you had being able to share some time with the Possum. He will be sorely missed, but I'm thankful you're still around to share your own life and singing with us. When George likes somebody, that's just another accolade to wear proudly! And they can call you a country singer, they can call it bluegrass....to me it makes no difference whatsoever. Your voice is simply outstanding, and I hope one day to be able to catch one of your shows if you're ever in a reasonable driving distance from where I live in N Central Mississippi.

May God continue to richly bless you and your career!

Royal Morehead
My gosh. What an amazing story!! I just turned 50 and have always loved country music. Raised on it. But every passing year I appreciate it more. It's so much life. Real honest expressive. Great men like George Jones and Johnny Cash and others that lived lives filled with success and joy yet still battled so many demons. All expressed thru music. Imperfect men that in the end found the peace of God thru Jesus and delivered thru the love of strong loving women. I cry randomly the last two days. I post constantly. I miss deeply. Because as each of these great men leave the earth. It brings us closer to the end of that era. Thank you and your family for helping keep real true honest country music alive. I've never owned a truck. I don't drink beer. I don't care about a tailgate Gets old fast. Lol. Keep it real
I had the good fortune of seeing five of George's shows and was even at one of his "no show" concerts in Muscle Shoals Alabama.  In spite of his no show I was still a huge fan.  I can't think of anyone since Hank Williams that could pull that off.  He will be missed.  What is really sad is there are no new country artists when the greats pass on.  Only a hand full of younger artist sing country.  I am a huge fan of yours and almost equally, your band.  Regardless of how you classify yourself, country or bluegrass, I will remain a fan of your music.   
Larry Crabtree
Rhonda thanks for sharing this with us. It is very heart breaking knowing we lost a country legend of country music.
B John
Rhonda, I have been a fan of George Jones for many years.  I was at the show you talked about in Salem VA.  I can remember the song you sang, "Little Angel", and liked it very much.
Lonnie Ford
Precious Memories that will be with you for ever.
I' glad that George Jones was a part of the country music that I grew up on. So many of the singers today are searching for an identity like the one George created.  Most will be forgotten.  George will live forever.
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