T.G. Sheppard & Kelly Lang Talk Historic Ryman Auditorium Debut

Kelly Lang, TG Sheppard

“Anytime you get a chance to be involved where there is so much history, it’s like being a football player and playing in a certain stadium that you’ve always loved."

Husband and wife T.G. Sheppard and Kelly Lang are about to make a little bit of musical history together. This Saturday (June 29), the couple will team up for a concert appearance at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville -- marking the first time either has played the venue in a concert setting.

“I was so tickled because I have not done a show at the Ryman before,” Lang told Billboard. “It’s always been on my wish list of places to perform. I guess it’s on everyone’s.” For Sheppard, though he has played the stage before as part of the Grand Ole Opry and Opry Country Classics, it’s the first time the legendary performer will play a full show at the Ryman.

“Anytime you get a chance to be involved where there is so much history, it’s like being a football player and playing in a certain stadium that you’ve always loved. The Ryman is that way with me,” the singer said. “If you’re just starting out, or you’ve been around for a long time, the Ryman is so special.”

The show, being billed as “Something To Smile About,” is a benefit for the Nashville-based Interfaith Dental Clinic. Lang says she was humbled and honored that the couple was asked to be a part.

“When Interfaith Dental called... they help people all around the southeast to obtain dental care if they cannot afford it. A lot of it is the dentists that are kind enough to donate their services. There’s a dental convention that is coming into Nashville at this time, and each year they do a concert or some type of event. I believe Faith and Tim did it a few years ago, and Vince and Amy have been a part of it, and this year, we were selected for the entertainment. It’s a real exciting time to get together for a great cause and some great music. There are people that will be coming in from all over for this.”

Also appearing on the bill will be songwriters Tim Nichols, James Dean Hicks, and Brinn Black, who will be doing an in-the-round performance prior to Lang and Sheppard.

Lang has been reaping positive reviews for her latest album, "Shades Of K." One particular review -- from an old friend -- made her smile. “I got a phone call from Ralph Emery, who is my mentor and father figure. He’s a hard guy to impress. He’s heard everything. He called me and said ‘Kelly, I just wanted you to know this is an excellent album – a ten out of ten.’ I said ‘Am I talking to Ralph Emery?’ So, for him to compliment me like that really made my week.”

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The couple just returned from a series of appearances in Austria, and seeing the fans’ reactions to the music abroad was a highlight, she says. “We did a show in Austria, and I was able to perform some of the songs over there. The thing I love about this project is that these are classic songs and people are already aware of the melody. When I began to sing songs like ‘You Don’t Know Me,’ or ‘If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do It Right),’ people there were able to sing along with me. That was a charge for me.”

Watching Lang get excited about her new album has re-lit the creative spark inside her spouse, as well. “I enjoyed watching her enjoy the process of recording 'Shades Of K,' and it kind of got me in the mindset of going back in sometime and doing a new album of new material,” said Sheppard. “I’ll probably head back in the studio before the end of summer. The recording process itself is very rewarding, so hopefully we can get back in there and have some fun, and out of that fun will come some good music.”

Though Sheppard has enjoyed one of the most successful careers on country radio with hits like “One For The Money” and “Last Cheaters’ Waltz,” he says that fire still burns as bright as it did when “Devil In The Bottle” topped the charts for the first time in 1974. “When you lose that, I think it’s the time to give it up and move on. I’m gonna do it as long as I enjoy it, and I love it as much as ever. I don’t enjoy the traveling as much, but I still love performing.”