News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
A sure bet: Kenny Rogers joins UMW Philharmonic Orchestra
BY JESSE SCOTT
If anyone knows when to hold and when to fold, it’s Kenny Rogers.
And by all indications, Rogers is holding strong.
The 73-year-old country legend will play the University of Mary Washington’s Anderson Center this Saturday, accompanied by the UMW Philharmonic Orchestra.
The show will be the first at the new Anderson Center and the first time Rogers has graced the stage with the UMW Philharmonic in his storied 50-plus-year career.
“I’ve done several shows with symphonies over the years, in fact I spent my first 10 years in jazz,” said Rogers in a phone interview from his home in Atlanta. “It’s always such a thrill. It’s like I’m playing and hearing those same songs but in a much different way.”
Saturday’s show will kick off with a patriotic set by the UMW Philharmonic, followed by a 70- to 80-minute performance of Rogers’ timeless classics. Fans will experience the full catalog of Rogers’ hits, including “The Gambler,” “Lucille,” “Lady” and “We’ve Got Tonight,” to the backdrop of an 85-member orchestra.
This weekend’s show celebrates the ninth consecutive year the university has brought in a renowned artist to play with the UMW Philharmonic Orchestra.
“We are attracting a higher-level artist and bringing in some truly world-class musicians,” said Kevin Bartram, director of the orchestra. “As far as UMW is concerned, we’re very proud to bring someone of [Rogers’] stature to perform right here in Fredericksburg with our students.”
Rogers has released 32 studio albums over the years and was even voted America’s “Favorite Singer of All-Time” in a 1986 USA Today/People magazine vote. Most recently, he was named the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2012 Artist in Residence. Just last week, he also appeared alongside fellow legends Lionel Richie, Tim McGraw and Martina McBride for the CBS special, “Lionel Richie and Friends in Concert.”
“Nights like those are really special,” said Rogers. “So often, one of us is off to Virginia, one of us is off to California, and so on. It’s really nice to sit down and have some fun with those guys.”
Rogers has always been as much of a maverick outside of music as he is onstage. Some of his more famous stints include the founding of Kenny Rogers Roasters and a guest spot on the TV comedy series “Reno 911!”
These days, Rogers is all about photography. Currently, he is working on a book of photos, slated to be released by early next year. The book focuses on Rogers’ American travels and highlights trips to the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls.
As for his travels to Fredericksburg, don’t be surprised if you see Rogers out and about in the ’Burg behind a lens.
“Of course, I’ll be bringing my cameras and will see what I can find out there,” he said.
Extracurricular activities aside, Rogers is still all about his music and his fans, and shows no sign of folding any time soon.
“Everybody in life needs a purpose,” said Rogers. “Music is mine. My whole life has always been music and it’s hard when I’m not doing it. For me it’s not the most important thing that I’m the best singer everyone has ever heard, but that everyone has a good time around me.”
WANT TO GO:
What: Kenny Rogers with the UMW Philharmonic Orchestra
Where: Anderson Center, University of Mary Washington, 1301 College Ave.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Cost: $25–$125
Info: 877/743-5318, philharmonic.umw.edu
Jesse Scott is a freelance writer and Fredericksburg native. Email him at email@example.com.