Two years after Don Williams’ death, the famed baritone voice of country music’s “Gentle Giant” will ring out in Nashville’s classical concert hall.
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the Nashville Symphony will present “Don Williams: Music and Memories of the Gentle Giant.”
Through concert footage and vocal tracks, audiences will be able to see the late Country Music Hall of Famer perform on screen, with live on-stage accompaniment by the symphony and his longtime touring band. They’ll also be joined by different special guests each night.
Curious about “Music and Memories”? Here’s what you should know.
How did they do it?
When Williams’ longtime manager, Robert Pratt, sat down with the symphony’s Pops conductor, Enrico Lopez-Yañez, he pointed out that Williams didn’t spend a ton of time in front of the camera.
But the footage he was able to secure for the concerts was pretty exceptional. It includes his first-ever concerts in Africa in 1997 and footage from performances in Branson, Missouri, earlier in the decade.
“When I was first approached about this, the whole idea was so exciting,” Pratt said. “He’d never, ever performed when he was alive with an orchestra, and his music lends so much to having an orchestra there. … I hope he’s looking down on us with happiness.”
To stay in sync with Williams’ recorded performance, Lopez-Yañez and Williams’ drummer are listening to a “click track” (i.e., a metronome). Aside from Williams’ voice, everything else audiences hear will be happening live on stage.
“I really think that this is something that hopefully will live on for quite some time as a very unique way to commemorate such an important figure for country music,” Lopez-Yañez said.
It’s curated by Keith Urban
Keith Urban is a lifelong fan of Williams, who was definitely a “giant” in Urban’s native Australia. He appeared on Williams’ 2012 studio album, “And So It Goes,” and performed with him at the “We’re All for the Hall” benefit concert at Bridgestone Arena that same year.
Urban will welcome audiences at this week’s shows with a video message.
Special guests each night
Each night features different fans and friends of Williams.
On Thursday, Trace Adkins and Tracy Lawrence will share the stage with the symphony and Williams’ band.
Trace Adkins (Photo: Larry McCormack / Tennessean.com)
Hit country singer-songwriter Victoria Shaw follows on Friday, and on Saturday, the symphony will welcome Sara Evans.
If you go
“Don Williams: Music and Memories of the Gentle Giant” takes place Thursday-Saturday at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
The shows start at 7 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Tickets are $24-$63 and available at www.nashvillesymphony.org.