“This is my kind of group,” Richie McDonald, former lead singer for Lonestar, said as he gazed into an audience of approximately 50 Women in Business, a group sponsored by Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce. The concert took place in the banquet room of the Hilton Garden Inn on Tuesday June 21st 2011. The room was constantly bathed with the light of nearly 50 cameras as every woman in the room recorded as much of the night as she could.
Richie McDonald, who left Lonestar to become a solo artist after 16 years with the highly successful group, sat at the keyboard and sang some of his top hits like “Walking in Memphis” and “I’m Already There” to a totally enthralled audience, some of whom were quietly singing along. He also introduced some of the dozen songs on his latest album, “Slow Down.”
“Slow Down” is one of the rare CDs that have only great songs. Every single on this album is one you want to hear over and over again. The title song describes Richie’s decision to leave his highly successful run with Lonestar to spend more time with his wife Lorie and their three children, Rhett, Mollie and Maisie.
Throughout the evening, Richie shared moments from his family life. He became increasingly aware that his children were growing up and he was missing those important times. He said that material things aren’t nearly as important as being with those you love and his music reflects that sense of awareness. Every song on “Slow Down” is co-authored by McDonald who has also co-written hits for Mindy McCready, (“Maybe He’ll Notice Her Now), Clay Walker (“She’s Always Right”), The Wilkinsons (“Jimmy’s Got a Girlfriend”), Billy Dean (“Let Them Be Little”), Sara Evans (“Coalmine”) and Heartland (“Once a Woman Gets a Hold of Your Heart”).
“Footprints on the Moon” is a featured song from his new album. The words urge the listener to not view the sky as the limit because there are literally footprints on the moon. Richie’s silken voice and easy style reach inside the heart with ease.
As the evening wore on, McDonald told how talking with his son, Rhett, inspired “I’m Already There,” a song that has become an unofficial theme song for troops stationed overseas. He also shared how Mollie used to put her little red boots on the wrong feet and she looked so cute, his wife and he didn’t have the heart to tell her about the mistake.
Before singing “Mr. Mom,” he saluted mothers by talking about his own experience when one of the children was a baby and he was talking over while Lorie ran to Walmart. With things in chaos after only a few minutes of his taking over, he discovered that he couldn’t find any diapers to change the baby; he called Lorie to see where they were. “I’m buying them now!” was the answer. Richie said here he was out trying to be a rock star and his wife was the one with the hard job.
“Growing Old Together,” the second cut on “Slow Down,” resulted in a traumatic birthday year for his wife. As with all his songs, each resulted from some milestone or “ah-ha” moment in his life or that of his family. Words from this song, “Every night I close my eyes and pray we have forever /’Cause I love the way we’re growing old together,” reflect Richie’s deep Christian faith.
He recalled his years growing up in Lubbock, Texas, as he was riding down the road in a Barracuda listening to a country station on the radio. He sang “Wildfire” in honor of those days as audience members joined in “the pony she named Wildfire” with exuberance.
McDonald shared an incident that spurred him to write “Hey God,” a song that carries over from his days and albums with Lonestar. Richie’s brother, who drives a Dr. Pepper truck in Texas, became very ill while he was on the road. He stopped the truck and went to the back to regurgitate only to find a dead skunk lying there. Hastily beating a retreat to the front of the truck, he collapsed on the ground. A woman driving by with her small child saw him, stopped and called 911, saving his life.
Ending his concert with “Baby, I’m Amazed by You,” Richie McDonald received a well-deserved standing ovation.
He stuck around to talk with fans, have pictures made with them, and autograph a few albums.
All in all, a good time was had by all.
Editor’s note: The videos in this story are not from the Women in Business event.