Taped recently near Nashville, it’s Evans’ third time on the Crossroads stage, and she vividly remembers the band’s long string of hits, including “Take It on the Run” and “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”
“I used to drive around with my best friend on the country roads around New Franklin, Missouri,” she told CMT Hot 20 Countdown. “We would just listen to REO Speedwagon nonstop, like, obsessively. We had the cassette tape.”
REO Speedwagon ascended to rock ‘n’ roll superstardom in the ‘80s, selling more than 40 million albums globally throughout the course of their career. Thirty plus years later, the group is still bringing the music to fans worldwide.
“It’s a badge of honor to be doing something at an age where a lot of people have just decided to sit back and watch TV for a while,” keyboardist Neal Doughty said. “We’re still doing a job that was originally meant for 20-year-olds. And we’re still pulling it off, so I’m very proud of it.”
Evans says REO Speedwagon’s music is timeless.
“And not just about time or age or anything like that, but their music… crosses over generations and crosses over genres. It appeals to so many people and has for so long, and we talked about this last night just because the songs are so awesome.
Lead vocalist Kevin Cronin enjoys hearing a slightly different take on their songs.
“Back in 1990 or so, Dolly Parton covered one of our songs,” he said. “And hearing one of our songs done by just a great female singer like that was just such an awesome treat.
“We met Sara just a couple of years ago here in Nashville and heard her sing. When the call came in that she wanted to do Crossroads with us, I was like , ‘Wait. So we get to hear Sara sing our songs?’
“As a songwriter, there’s nothing better than hearing your words sung by someone who’s really got the pipes.”
Tune in when CMT Crossroads: REO Speedwagon and Sara Evans premieres Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
And catch more of the exclusive interview with Evans and the band on all-new episode of CMT Hot 20 Countdown airing Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. ET/PT.