See John Anderson in concert Friday

Country singer comes to Sumter Opera House

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Considered one of the greatest country singers by both critics and fans, John Anderson will make his only South Carolina appearance in Sumter on Friday, March 17, at the Sumter County Opera House. His 7:30 p.m. performance will be an intimate acoustic concert of traditional style country music, reminiscent of legends such as Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings, with a small, but talented band backing him.

The winner of both American Country Music and Country Music Association awards, Anderson moved to Nashville in 1972 and supported himself by working construction during the day and playing honky tonks at night. After a few early hits, "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)" among them, he first achieved real fame with his 1982 album Wild and Blue, which introduced his big mainstream, crossover hit, "Swingin.'" It won him a CMA Horizon Award the following year and is still played regularly on country and pop radio. This 2017 tour no doubt will celebrate the 35th anniversary of that breakthrough album.

Anderson says on his website, www.johnanderson.com, that the anniversary marks a "monumental" time in his life and career and that he's looking forward to celebrating.

"I'm really excited about doing these acoustic shows," he said. "It gives my fans an opportunity to experience a whole other side to John Anderson they haven't seen before in an intimate setting, and the reaction so far has been overwhelming."

He has recorded 23 CDs, with the double platinum-certified Goldmine being the latest; he wrote 12 of its songs and has described the CD as "an artist album," with all the songs arranged and recorded as Anderson wanted them to be, with no outside influences.

Twenty of the singer-songwriter's 60 singles have reached the Top 10, and among his other industry awards are the Academy of Country Music Lifetime Award and induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

He also has a great appreciation of his fans, Anderson said, calling them "the most loyal fans anybody has ever had, and I do indeed appreciate them supporting our music for all these years. ... At this point, it's just for me and the fans."

Opening for Anderson on Friday night will be Alabama native and fellow traditional country singer Shane Owens. While he's been making country music for almost 20 years, he's still a new name to many mainstream music fans.

That may be because the two CDs he was working on never came to fruition because the record companies folded. Now, however, Owens has a new CD titled "Where I'm Comin' From" that he said is " ... really starting to take off. This feels different than in the past."

Like Anderson, he's sticking to traditional country music, for which he thinks "millions of people still have a great love." In fact, Owens is looking to bring those early sounds back to the mainstream of country music with songs like two on the CD, "God and the Ground She Walks On" and "All the Beer in Alabama."

John Anderson, with opener Shane Owens, will be in concert at the Sumter Opera House, 21 N. Main St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 17. Tickets are $36, $32 and $29. For reservations or more information, visit the website www.SumterOperaHouse.com.