When Neal McCoy made his seventeenth straight appearance at Jamboree in the Hills this July it was perhaps the most memorable as he granted a wish for Shadyside's Spencer Lay. Spencer's condition is a rare genetic abnormality causing many birth defects along with numerous medical health challenges and developmental delays.
McCoy met with the 12 year old before his performance in Morristown and invited him on stage singing a special song for him. "He loves to sleep with his American flag that Neal McCoy signed for him; he holds it close to his heart," his family relayed. "We want everyone and Neal McCoy himself to know that he opened something up in Spencer that we have never seen before. This whole experience instilled a confidence in Spencer and he feels now that he matters to people; people want to listen to what he has to say."
"We were very happy to be able to do that for the young man," McCoy said humbly. "I agreed to see him, and it is a very special day for him, which is tremendous, but honestly it is the easiest thing for me to do."
Spencer is not the only one in the Ohio Valley who recognizes McCoy's unique charisma and ability to relate to an audience. The large crowd Sunday afternoon was evidence that the country music legend has a special appeal to fans of all ages. McCoy, who stated in past years that he credited most of the fans in attendance at Jamboree in the Hills to the acts later on that day's schedule had to admit that just maybe this time the thousands packing the hillside Sunday afternoon stayed to see him.
"You know these people have been there for days, camping and hanging out there in the hot sun and no one could blame them for packing up and leaving early Sunday morning," McCoy related. "We sure do appreciate them sticking around for our show."
This year as an added bonus for Jambo fans McCoy will be returning to the area September 18 when he will take the stage at the Tuscarawas County Fair.
"We truly love all the fans out there," McCoy said. "People in the Valley have always made us feel welcome and we are looking forward to getting back."
The 55 year old still maintains a busy touring schedule and is very proud of his newest album, which he says may be his best ever. On September 24, McCoy will release "Pride: A Tribute Album To Charley Pride."
Reflecting on his over three decades in the music business, Neal McCoy says most of the credit goes to the man who gave him the opportunity to perform as his opening act, Country Music Hall of Fame member Charley Pride.
"He stands taller than anyone else in my career," McCoy said. "I've been fortunate enough to have had some hits, and met some great people, but it was all due to Charley giving me the opportunity to get into country music back in 1981, He and his wife Rozene are very special to me and if for nothing other than that reason right there I feel this could be my best album ever."
McCoy credits the support and advice from the Pride family as the reason he was able to stay in the business as one of the most popular touring acts for over a decade without a hit record. When he finally broke through in 1993 with the back-to-back number 1 singles "No Doubt About It" and "Wink" from his platinum-certified album No Doubt About It he realized Pride's confidence in the young star was justified.
McCoy's commercial success continued into the late 1990s with two more platinum albums and a gold album, as well as six more Top Ten hits. A seventh Top Ten hit, the number 10 "Billy's Got His Beer Goggles On", came in 2005 from his self-released That's Life. Now, Although he has not topped the country charts since the singer hopes his new tribute album will strike a chord with today's country music fans.
"This is some of the greatest music and I hope that this album will be an opportunity for fans who never listened to Charlie's music before to hear it," McCoy said. "I hope when they do give it a listen that they are going to like it and maybe they will get to know and understand what Charley Pride's music was about,"
McCOy said that earlier this year, he was on the bus with fellow Opry member Trace Adkins telling him about his project when he asked Trace to sing on the record for the song "Roll on Mississippi." "As it turns out, Trace loves that song and agreed to sing on the new album,"
The album also includes cameos from the Mavericks' Raul Malo ("I'm Just Me"), and Darius Rucker on Pride's 1971 signature "Kiss An Angel Good Morning." McCoy says he was thankful for their participation. "I was fortunate to be able to have them come in. They all did such a great job." Other cuts on the Garth Fundis-produced disc includes "You're My Jamaica," "Someone Loves You, Honey," and "You're So Good When You're Bad," which Neal says may be his favorite Pride song.
McCoy also sings the classic Pride hits; "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone", It's Gonna Take a Little Bit Longer," "Just Between You and Me," and my favorite off the alum, "Mountain of Love."
McCoy and Pride teamed up for the filming of a video for "Kaw Liga," Charley took the Hank Williams classic to the top five in 1969. The singer was thrilled to be working with his longtime friend again, "Charlie plays as a high school principal in the video."
The album is available for pre-order on I-tunes and McCoy says that he may have CDs for sale at the concert at the Tuscarawas County Fair.