Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

Since the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts Center first opened, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers have appeared in the season’s line up more than once. The trio enjoy performing in Franklin as much as the crowd enjoys their visit to town.

“The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts is a beautiful theatre,” said Rudy Gatlin. “The folks in North Carolina are always so welcoming and appreciative of what we do. We love every chance we get to perform there.”

Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers have been performing together since Rudy was two, Larry was six and Steve was just four. The brothers started performing in 1955 in Abilene, Texas, and have since performed in numerous concert halls, on festival stages and national TV shows. While touring has slowed considerably over the years, the trio continues to perform 40 to 50 shows a year including one slated for Franklin on Friday, Aug. 12, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

“Performing has changed over the years, technology has certainly made things a little different for us, but how we get ready is typically the same,” said Rudy. “It’s like how a football team gets ready to take the field. They don’t just run out there and start playing. They have a warm up, a ritual. We have that too. I have certain things I have to do to get ready to take the stage.”

Rudy noted that even though he has been performing his entire life, he still gets those nervous butterflies before taking the stage.

“It isn’t nerves at this point, you pretty much have that all worked out because we have been doing this for so long,” said Rudy. “But it doesn’t matter where you are or where you are performing, you just can’t help but get excited. You want the audience to enjoy it and if it ends in a standing ovation than you know you have done your job.”

Friday night Rudy said the crowd at the performing arts center can expect to be treated to some of the classics that span their decades-long career.

“You can expect to hear some of our hits, and some of our misses, because those are what make you appreciate the hits a little more,” he joked. “It is going to be a great show and we are going to have a great time.”

By 1976, the Gatlin Brothers were in the fast lane, thanks to the chart-topping success of the Grammy Award-winning “Broken Lady.”  The hits continued throughout the rest of the decade, including their signature song, “All the Gold in California,” soon to be followed by “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You).”   The number one hits continued throughout the next decade with “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” “I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love,” “Statues Without Hearts,” “Love is Just a Game,” and “Night Time Magic.”  In addition to being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1976, the trio was nominated for awards by the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music and the Music City News Awards, among others.  “We won some of  ‘em too,” say Larry.

The brothers continued to tour through out the ’80s.   In 1992, they decided to take some time away from the road.  That year they embarked on their “Adios Tour” and released an album of the same title.  Upon completion of the tour, Larry would go on to Broadway to star in the hit musical, “The Will Rogers Follies,” as Steve built a theatre in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Rudy starred in a production of “Oklahoma” in Branson, Mo.  In early 2002, the brothers decided to tour on a limited basis, recorded a new album, “Pilgrimage,” in 2008 and are still performing 40 to 50 dates a year.  In 2015, the Gatlin Brothers received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the great state of Texas.  This past year they were inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth, Texas.

As the brothers begin their 61st year singing together, they are looking forward to the next adventure.  We are grateful to God for our fabulous run and we can’t wait to see what else He has in store.”

“We have been very blessed and grateful for the many fans who have stayed with us over the years,” adds Steve.  “You have impacted our lives more than you can possibly imagine.”

Rudy adds, “One of the nicest things fans can say is that we are still singing and playing better than ever and that’s nice to hear.”

In addition to touring, the brothers recently released a new Gospel album titled, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers – The Gospel According to Gatlin.  Larry says, “The songs are a little edgy, a little bit different. Steve, Rudy and I didn’t get where we are by playing it safe.  We have always pushed the envelope, we have always crossed borders others were afraid to cross and we’re not going to stop now… and that’s the gospel according to Gatlin.”