As if it is not BAD enough, the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby would have been running this Saturday, May 2nd, 2020, fortunately, at least, for now, it is only postponed to Saturday, September 5th, 2020!
However, one of the other highlights of our year is conducting live Moxietalks (interviews) with musical artists for MoxieTalk with Kirt Jacobs. So we were devastated to recently learn the 2020 summer’s biggest music festivals in Louisville, Kentucky, (where we are based), are now canceled for 2020. The 2020 Forecastle Festival and even the 2020 Trifesta Festival, NOT POSTPONED, BUT BOTH CANCELED!
Considering this is our 15th anniversary year of production,
I’m disappointed that we won’t have that chance this year, and wish we could magically fast forward through the rest of 2020 and go straight to 2021, aren’t you? However, on top of all that, our grief further proceeded when I learned about the March 20th, 2020 passing of the legendary Kenny Rogers.
Rogers was 81 years old, and health problems had forced him to retire from touring a couple of years ago. But it always seemed possible that one day I might get a chance to sit with him, just as the many musical artists already in our MoxieTalk catalogue.
You see, Rogers embodied a type of moxie that I love to showcase! By all accounts, he was a genuine, hard-working, down-to-earth man whose success was much deserved. Over the course of his five decades in music, he won six Country Music Association awards and three Grammys.
He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013. He sold 50 million albums and scored 24 number one genre-crossing hits.
Who wouldn’t want to sit down and spend some time with a person like that?
Here’s how I see Rogers’ moxie:
Rogers wasn’t an overnight sensation. He worked for years, solo, and as part of different groups. His musical career stretches back at least to the 1950s. He scored his first minor hit as a solo artist in 1957, then joined a jazz trio and stuck with them through the mid-sixties before joining the New Christy Minstrels in 1966.
Rogers and several other members of the group split off to form New Edition in 1967. The folk-psychedelic group stuck together for a decade and had several hits before disbanding.
After laboring away for two decades, setting out on his own was a little intimidating for Rogers, but he didn’t have to wait too long for a hit. Lucille became a major hit in 1977, and Rogers kept those hits coming for thirty more years.
It always seems to feel like artists emerge out of nowhere to become an overnight sensation, but that’s rarely the case. Most artists grind away for years stringing together gigs and groups just to scratch together a living and reach for the next thing. Rogers worked hard to build a career and was nearly halfway into it before he began seeing a big payoff. It takes moxie to stick with it, even though success is a long time coming.
Moxie brings someone else’s story to life.
The Gambler, Lucille, Ruby, Coward of the County. All of these songs have a powerful narrative element wand evokes a particular place, time, and characters.
The songs are certainly well-written, but one must wonder if they would have been half as powerful in the hands of anyone other than Kenny Rogers.
Rogers was an unmatched musical storyteller. His immense talent was singularly focused on using his beautifully textured voice and phrasing to breathe life into characters and scenes.
“I’ve always felt great songs put you in a spot, put you in a place — on a warm summer’s evening, on a train bound for nowhere,” Rogers told NPR in 2012. “You know where you are, and from there the rest of the song plays out.”
Rogers breathed life into characters on the small screen and silver screen, too. He brought the Gambler to life in a series of movies, as well as the Coward of the County. He also scored a box office hit as a race car driver in the movie Six Pack.
Moxie is remembered for kindness.
It takes strong collaboration to bring such indelible characters to life, and perhaps the key to Rogers’ success as a collaborator was his legendary genuine kindness. He collaborated with legends such as Dottie West, Sheena Easton, and Dolly Parton.
Parton’s tribute to her former duet partner was tearful and heartfelt.
Nearly every remembrance of Rogers notes his kindness, and how generous and easy he was with friends, colleagues, and crew.
Though married five times, Rogers wasn’t plagued by scandal and acrimonious divorces. One of his ex-wives, Marianne Gordon, praised him, especially for his kindness. The two met in 1974 and married in 1977 just as his career began a steep ascent.
“He was always in a good mood and had a wonderful sense of humor about things and he really didn’t change with fame,” she said in an interview following his death. “I couldn’t say enough nice things about him and how special he was. So many people have called to remind me of the wonderful things Kenny did to help his friends and mine, including buying a car for a friend’s mother. He was such a kind, good person.”
It’s something when your ex-wife praises your kindness.
Below is the 2017 concert poster for what would be Kenny Rogers’ last public performance.
If you could request any Kenny Rogers song, what would be at the top of your list? I know mine would be Lady By Kenny Rogers.
Mr. Rogers, you will be DEEPLY missed by family, friends, and fans for sure!
Kenny Rogers’ Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_Rogers