What happens when the greatest country vocalist covers the greatest gospel hymn? Prepare to be amazed with George Jones’ live rendition of “Amazing Grace” from 2008.
Let’s start with the “greatest country vocalist,” which, for my money, is the late George Jones. If George isn’t on the top of your list of the greatest country singers of all time (or very near the top), get yourself a new list. George had pipes all day, and then some. Of course, county music lost one of its greatest voices when George Jones died on April 26, 2013, at age 81.
And when you start talking about the greatest gospel hymns of all time, “Amazing Grace” usually tops the list. And rightfully so. Along with “How Great Thou Art” and “I’ll Fly Away,” “Amazing Grace” is easily one of the most recognizable gospel songs. In fact, it’s one of the most recognizable songs from any genre.
Penned in 1772 by poet/clergyman John Newton, “Amazing Grace” has been recorded thousands of times over the last 100 years. Artists from all genes have sung the praises of the spiritual tune, including Ray Charles, Randy Travis, Elvis Presley, Dianna Ross and many, many more.
George Jones first recorded “Amazing Grace” on his 1974 album, In a Gospel Way. If you crunch the numbers, that was right in the midst of George’s hell-raising days. Nonetheless, George had a fondness for the gospel music he was raised on. And he could always croon in the studio, regardless of what was going on outside of it.
In addition, Jones re-recorded the tune in 2002, which was posthumously released on his 2013 album, George Jones: Amazing Grace. The Possum loved the song so much that Randy Travis performed it at his funeral service in 2013.
George Goes Live
For this Country Rewind, we’re throwing it back to the Gaither Homecoming in 2008. The concert/video series, which was presented by gospel impresario Bill Gaither, featured legendary artists like George Jones, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, and more. The headlining artist would often perform with additional artists in the Gaither Music Group publishing stable and back-up vocalists.
As featured on the Gaither Homecoming video released in 2008, Country Bluegrass Homecoming: Vol. 1, George Jones performed a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace,” with harmonies from Wesley Prichard, Brittany Allen, and Reggie and Ladye Love Smith.
With a distinctive voice that put him in another class from his peers, George Jones lived the last 20 or so years of his life being known as the “greatest living country singer.” That’s not an easy moniker to shoulder. But George once again delivered with his performance of “Amazing Grace.”