TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- People measure greatness in any number of ways. But by any measure imaginable, country music superstar George Strait personifies what it means to be great in his chosen field.
Just take a look at a few of the accolades:
-- Member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
-- More than 67 million records sold.
-- Thirty-two different platinum or multiplatinum albums, second only to Elvis.
-- Fifty-seven No. 1 songs, more than any other artist in history.
-- Sixty major entertainment industry awards, including a Grammy for Best Country Album.
-- A record 22 Country Music Association wins and 81 nominations.
-- CMA Vocalist of the Year five times.
-- Nineteen wins and 81 nominations (both records) for Association of Country Music Awards.
It would be easy to fill all the space allotted in this publication and much more just listing the awards and nominations Strait has received in a career that is as vital today as it was when he kicked it off back in the early '80s.
"I actually think his voice keeps getting better," legendary producer Tony Brown, who has worked with Strait on a number of projects, said of the star. "George is so subtle and so focused on expressing a song that people don't always realize just what an incredible singer he really is because he's not showy."
"The thing I love about George is he never gets stagnant. He knows just how far he can push the envelope without breaking it. He likes to try new things, but he always stays within what he can do best. The tone he has, the way he phrases a line, the emotion he puts into them -- there's really no one as good as he is at all that."
Area country fans can revel in the majesty of King George Thursday when he, fellow country superstar Reba McEntire and rising star Lee Ann Womack perform at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.
Fans got an inkling of Strait's unique brand of Texas twang early on when his first hit, "Unwound," went to No. 6 on the country charts in April of 1981. Just over a year later he reached No. 1 on the charts for the first time with his hit "Fool Hearted Memory."
And the No. 1's just kept coming: "A Fire I Can't Put Out," "You Look So Good in Love," "Right or Wrong," "Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?" "The Chair," "Let's Fall to Pieces Together," "Nobody In His Right Mind Would Have Left Her," "It Ain't Cool to Be Crazy About You," Ocen Front Property," "All My Exes Live in Texas," "Am I Blue?" "Famous Last Words of a Fool," "Baby Blue," "If You Ain't Lovin' (You Ain't Livin')," "Baby's Gotten Good at Goodbye," "What's Going on In Your World" and "Ace in the Hole."
That's enough No. 1 songs -- classic No. 1 songs -- to last a career. But that was just Strait's '80s chart-toppers.
He followed in the '90s with "Love Without End, Amen," "I've Come to Expect It From You," "If I Know Me," "You Know Me Better Than That," "Chill of an Early Fall," "So Much Like My Dad," "I Cross My Heart," "Heartland," "Easy Come, Easy Go," "I'd Like to Have That One Back," "The Man in Love With You," "The Big One," "You Can't Make a Heart Love Somebody," "Lead On," "Check Yes or No," "I Know She Still Loves Me," "Blue Clear Sky," "Carried Away," "I Can Still Make Cheyenne," "One Night at a Time," "Carrying Your Love With Me," "Today My World Slipped Away," "Round That Way," "I Just Wanna Dance With You," "True," "We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This" and "Write This Down.
Then, there were the 2000s: "The Best Day," "Run," "Living and Living Well," "She'll Leave You With a Smile," "I Hate Everything," "She Let Herself Go," "Give It Away," "It Just Comes natural," "Wrapped," "I Saw God Today" and Rider of Love."
Whew ... And that doesn't even get into the classic albums like "Strait Country," "Strait From the Heart," "Ocean Front Property," "Livin' It Up," "Pure Country" (the best-selling country soundtrack of all time), the 8 million-plus-selling "Strait Out of the Box," "Carrying Your Love With Me," "Honkytonkville," the 7 million-plus-selling "50 Number Ones," "It Just Comes Natural," and the Grammy Award-winning "Troubador."
"George is having as much fun as ever making records," Brown said of his long-time collaborator. "You can hear it, too."
Fans will get a chance to hear that Thursday when Strait brings his musical magic to Florida's capital city.
McEntire, one of the few country artists who can hold her own with Strait, has had her share of the limelight. She's sold more than 55 million albums worldwide, has had 63 Top 10 hits, and has received 15 American Music Awards, nine People's Choice Awards, seven CMA honors and two Grammys.
Great seats, which start at $39.50, are still available for Thursday's 7 p.m. show. Tickets are available at the Civic Center box office, at Ticketmaster outlets, at www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling (850) 222-0400 or (800) 322-3602.