MusicRow Magazine: Garth Brooks Celebrates 7 Diamond Albums With Star-Studded Nashville Show
Brooks’ storied career began after he moved from his native Oklahoma to Nashville. By 1988, he was selling boots in downtown Nashville, and writing the lyrics and melodies that would become anthems for a generation of music fans.
Brooks signed with Capitol Nashville and released his debut album Garth Brooks in 1989. The album would go on to be certified Diamond in the United States. Diamond certification would follow for albums including 1991’s Ropin’ The Wind, 1994’s The Hits, 1997’s Sevens, 1998’s Double Live (2x Diamond), and 2007’s The Ultimate Hits.
Governor Bill Haslam noted that all of those albums were recorded in Tennessee. Haslam also presented Brooks with a custom belt buckle embedded with seven diamonds.
“This state has treated me like a native son,” said Brooks, before welcoming fellow Oklahoma native and country legend Reba for a rendition of “Not Counting You,” a track from Brooks’ 1989 debut album.
Reba recalled, “I’ll never forget the first time we got to work together. It was in Illinois, and I was down in my dressing room getting ready and my tour manager came up to me and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this guy opening the show for you tonight.’ I said, ‘Why?’ and he said, ‘He’s all over the place.’ So I had to go up and watch him. So I watched you in the year of 1990, 1991 when you and I got to tour together. We all saw something very special, very different, something sweet and we love you very much. I am very humbled and honored to be part of this night for you.”
Chris Young joined for a moving, pitch-perfect offering of “The River,” after telling Brooks, “It’s an honor to be onstage with you.”
Jason Aldean surprised the audience with “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).”
Kelly Clarkson sang a soulful arrangement of “We Shall Be Free.”
Steve Wariner offered a duet of “Long Neck Bottle,” and was later coaxed back to the stage by Brooks and Clarkson, who boldly asked for Wariner to perform his song “The Weekend.” Warner obliged, at times serenading Clarkson as she danced around the stage.
It was Brooks’ duet with wife and country star Trisha Yearwood that had the audience perhaps the most spellbound. The crowd was hushed as the two sang “In Another’s Eyes,” followed by Yearwood’s “Walkaway Joe.”
“The guy I knew in 1987 is the same kind, compassionate, good guy,” Yearwood told the audience. “As an artist, I’m glad to be a part of your life.”
After the string of artist guest appearances, Brooks shone the spotlight on perhaps his most special guests—his fans.
Numerous times, Brooks let the fans take the lead on songs including “Two Pina Coladas” and “The Thunder Rolls.”
“You guys came here to sing,” Brooks said, reading the crowd’s reaction. “Let’s put you back to work,” he said, before playing the opening chords of “Unanswered Prayers.”
Numerous times throughout the concert, he gave a nod to recent Country Music hall of Fame inductee Randy Travis, who was in the audience.
The show neared to a close as RIAA’s Liz Kennedy took the stage to present Brooks with his seventh Diamond award, making him the only artist in music history to have seven albums sell more than 10 million units each, surpassing the Beatles’ record of six Diamond albums.
The RIAA has spearheaded its Gold and Platinum program for nearly 60 years.
“It’s an honor to be the in the great state of Tennessee tonight…to celebrate this wonderful place and this distinguished musician,” she said. Kennedy noted that Brooks has sold more than 138 million albums in the United States alone, making him the No. 1 solo artist in history. He has earned 21 Platinum albums, 15 Multi-platinum albums, and seven separate diamond albums.
“The list of thank you’s is unbelievable, starting with God and my parents, and even the list of people that came before you,” said Brooks. “This doesn’t happen without Haggard, Jones, Buck Owens and Keith Whitley. All of country music doesn’t happen without Randy Travis, I can tell you that. All I ever wanted to be in my life was George Strait, so I think my greatest blessing and thank you is that Garth Brooks’ name is on here.”
For an artist who has placed his listeners front and center throughout his time in the spotlight, the celebration ended appropriately, with just Brooks and his fans bonding and exchanging a musical energy. The evening closed with a full-blown fireworks display lighting up the amphitheater.
Earlier in the night, Brooks performed “The Dance,” the final track from his 1989 debut album and a song that would become a signature hit and fan favorite throughout the years.
As he basked in the adulation of his fans, it was apparent he wouldn’t have missed this dance for anything.