Country singer Gene Watson doesn’t beat around the bush when asked about what listeners can expect at Saturday’s concert at the Bosque Arts Center in Clifton: It’s traditional country music, he said.
Traditional country music has been what the native Texan has sung since the 1970s when he jumped from a regional singer with Houston as home base to a national artist with a Nashville connection.
That sound, and Watson’s easy way with it, underlines his success with hits such as “14 Carat Mind,” “Paper Rosie,” “Love In The Hot Afternoon” and his signature “Farewell Party,” some of the two-dozen Top 10 hits he’s recorded in his career. It won the Palestine-born singer election to the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2002 and fans through some four decades of touring and performing.
And it’s those fans he has in mind whenever he stands on stage to perform.
“We just want to satisfy our fans. This show will be no different,” he said in a recent phone interview from his Houston-area home.
In addition to his Saturday night performance in Clifton, Watson will return to Central Texas later in spring for a March 13 concert at the Waco Hippodrome.
While Watson plans on delivering the songs that characterized his career, don’t be surprised if he throws some gospel music into the mix: Watson revisits his earliest musical memories in his latest album, with its straight-ahead title “My Gospel Roots.”
That album, his second gospel recording, was released last month and dedicated to his parents. “Singing in church was my first recollection of music,” he said. “These are songs I used to sing in church with my (seven) brothers and sisters.”
The doors of the Free Gospel Mission, the Paris church in which Watson grew up, are pictured on the album cover, in fact.
Singing hymns introduced him to music, but paying attention to his sound even as country music changed with the years kept Watson connected with his audiences. “You can’t be in this business over 50 years and not hear something,” he said of his vocal style. “I tried to refine it and keep it up to date as I can . . . over the years, I’ve matured my voice. I try to improve, make it a little bit better, a little bit smoother.”
In the end, it’s how one delivers a song that counts and that’s something Watson thinks he has down.
“I still know my way around a song,” he said.