John Conlee, the million-dollar baritone-voiced country musician, owner of hits such as ‘Rose Colored Glasses’ and ‘Friday Night Blues’, is back on the road, with a scheduled stop on Saturday the 20th August in Corsicana at the Théâtre du Palais.
It’s Conlee’s first time playing at Corsicana since 2018, although he has fond memories of his previous night at the Palace.
“I’ve always liked more intimate places, mostly because you can be one-on-one with people,” Conlee said. “You can actually talk to people in the crowd from the stage in a lot of cases, and I do; I often open the floor for questions during the show. I love playing in these kinds of places and we can’t wait to be there because of that.
Saturday August 20
Conlee’s career took off in 1978 when legendary Houston disc jockey “Doctor” Bruce Nelson Stratton began playing “Rose Colored Glasses” in heavy rotation.
“It spread from Houston and biked across the country to become that first national hit,” Conlee said. “From that point on, I’ve spent more time in the state of Texas on the road than in any other state. Texas has always been a stronghold for us, and I’m thrilled about that. I love the Texas.
When not on tour, Conlee, who lives in Nashville, is a regular at the Grand Ole Opry, where he has been a member for nearly 42 years. Even after all this time, he still receives a special charge by entering the famous circle at the center of this sacred scene. There, he reconnects with the ghosts of a bygone era of country music.
“I was lucky enough to be able to do the Opry with a lot of people I grew up listening to on the radio, like Little Jimmy Dickens, Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Bill Monroe and Hank Snow,” Conlee said. “I was able to share this scene with these people while they were here, and I’m so grateful that I was able to do that. They were icons that will never be replaced, and I think of them all the time when I’m there.
One of the highlights of Conlee’s career was the night Roy Acuff brought him back on stage at the Opry for an encore, where Conlee performed “Rose Colored Glasses” with Acuff standing next to him, wearing a pair of pink shades for effect.
“A fan took a Polaroid of it and sent it to me later, and I treasure that photo,” Conlee says.
“Rose Colored Glasses” is still a staple on all of his shows, but at this point in his career, Conlee’s biggest challenge is to consolidate all of his signature songs into one list.
“It’s one of those nice problems to have,” he admits. “We hit all the major [songs], and we’re doing some album songs that are new music to us that maybe people haven’t heard yet. We also do some gospel on the road. Actually, my new project is a gospel CD. We haven’t finished it, but we are working on it. We’ll make a song out of it just to give people a little preview.
While finding room in his performances for all of his must-haves, including his seven No. 1 hits, is a balancing act, it’s not the hardest part of a tour. Which begs the question: why Conlee, a man who could just kick back and let the royalty checks land in the mailbox while playing Opry gigs here and there, still leaves his comfort zone for a life of buses and hotel rooms?
“That’s what I’m supposed to do,” he said without hesitation. “I’m supposed to communicate music. As long as my voice holds up, my health holds up, and people keep showing up, I don’t plan on not doing it. God will take me out when He’s ready. Until then, I will be there.