It would be impossible to count the number of times Lee Ann Womack has performed "I Hope You Dance." In her own words, "I sang it around the world a million times." But it's likely she's never given it the surprising treatment it got at the Country Radio Seminar on Thursday afternoon (March 4) in Nashville.
First, she forgot the words in the first verse. Then she sang the bridge too early. Then she repeated a verse. "Can you believe that I can sing that song as many times as I have and still screw it up as bad as I did," she asked the crowd of radio programmers from around the nation.
Still, she seemed unfazed by the situation, teasing that everybody's already heard the tune a time or two anyway. Maybe that was the pressure talking, because the stakes are high for Womack right now, with a greatest hits album landing in May.
"This is the most nervous I've been in a long time," she said, in between singing "Never Again, Again" and "A Little Past Little Rock." In the midst of singing her new single, "The Wrong Girl," the microphone nearly tumbled out of its stand. Right after the last note, she said, "I'm done," waved for a few seconds and scampered off the stage.
In making an unexpected appearance, labelmate Vince Gill was a bit more assured. With just his acoustic guitar, he played his new single, "In These Last Few Years." He compared it to one of his most memorable hits, "Go Rest High on That Mountain," saying "If that song ends up in a hymnal, that might be the favorite thing that happens to me." He also mentioned how pleased he was to hear the other new artists on the bill, Jedd Hughes and Julie Roberts. He proved it by joining both of them on stage during their individual sets.
Those in the back of the convention hall might have mistaken Hughes and Roberts for Keith Urban and Faith Hill. At 21, Australia native Hughes shows promise as a singer-songwriter-guitarist, and he's been fashionably scruffed up since leaving Patty Loveless' road band. Meanwhile, Roberts seems poised to claim a place in the minds of country programmers, with focused ballads and her distinct Southern twang. Certainly, her pulled-back blonde hair and the white-blazer-over-red-blouse ensemble didn't hurt either.
Visit Lee Ann Womack's artist page at CMT.com to view photos of the CRS luncheon performance.