When: 7 p.m. April 8
Where: Riverside Military Academy, 2001 Riverside Drive, Gainesville
More info: www.itickets.com
When John Conlee was a young boy in Kentucky, he would stand in front of the television and pretend he was directing the music.
Now, John Conlee stands in front of audiences across the country making music of his own. But his career didn’t start out as a performer.
He worked as a mortician and disk jockey at a radio station first. Then he worked his way to becoming a platinum-selling country music star. In 1981, he joined the Grand Ole Opry.
However, Conlee isn’t just a country music hitmaker. He participated in several concerts that have raised some $13 million for Farm Aid, which is a benefit concert for family farms in the United States. He also supports the Wounded Warriors project and Feed the Children organizations. Recently, he participated in a benefit concert for the Dallas Police Department. The concert raised about $145,000 for the families and loved ones of the DPD.
Conlee has used his music for the greater good and described it as being all part of the stepping stones to get where he is in life. Part of his professional life includes a handful of No. 1 hits.
Conlee’s first hit, “Rose Colored Glasses,” charted at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles in 1978. Since then, he has earned seven Billboard No. 1’s, with no plans to slow down.
“As long as people want to hear me sing, and I can do it, I will do it,” he said.
Conlee can be seen in his trademark pair of rose-colored glasses at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 8, for a performance in the Carlos & Sandra Cervantes Theater on the Riverside Military Academy campus at 2001 Riverside Drive in Gainesville.
Conlee spoke to the Times about his start in music and being a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Question: What sparked your interest in music?
Answer: I remember being attracted to music when it came on TV when I was just a wee child. Some of it was from church; I went with my folks a lot, and the songs out of the hymn book gave me a burst of exposure to live music.
Q: How old were you when you started singing?
A: Well, I took guitar lessons when I was 8 or 9 years old. I never learned the instrument that well, but once I learned enough to sing with, I was off and running.
Q: What is the most memorable performance you’ve had?
A: That’s a tough one! I’ve done a lot of things that were very special to me, especially being a member of the Grand Ole Opry. There are a lot of them from along the way. It’s hard to pick out just one.
Q: What is your favorite part about performing?
A: I think it’s the one-on-one I have when we’re doing a live show. The music remains the same. We’re tasked with reproducing the hits that folks have given us, but it’s that interaction from the stage with people in the crowd that make it fun for me.
Q: How has music impacted your life?
A: It’s part of my ministry! It’s part of everything I’ve done to make a living and to get where I am now. Music is a ministry for me. Any time you make a living from your hobby, you’re pretty blessed.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I get ready for the next show!