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Gene Watson's peers within the country music industry believe in the sheer talent of this unassuming man from east Texas, so much so that Gene is regarded by many of them as 'the singer's singer' - and rightly so!
All of Gene Watson's Peers who were contacted during 2006 were most gracious with their time and words. It is here, within this special part of the Gene Watson Fan Site, that you have an opportunity to read a quote from Mark O'Connor, which he submitted to this site on Sunday 5 March 2006.
Sean Brady would like to take this opportunity to say 'thank you' to Mark O'Connor who has made a special contribution to a unique part of this online 'celebration of a Lone Star Hero'.
This quote was submitted on Sunday 5 March 2006.
'I enjoyed adding my fiddle to Gene’s records.
His was such a classic voice, I felt I could really move my playing into a deeper place with his song interpretations.
It was a stand out for me, playing on his songs in Nashville'.
Thank you, Mark O'Connor, for your support of Gene Watson.
About Mark O'Connor...
Mark O'Connor is a native of Seattle, Washington where he was born on Saturday 5 August 1961, and is a virtuoso on guitar and mandolin. At the age of six, Mark began guitar lessons. When he was ten years old, Mark won his first contest and, by the time he was eleven, he could play mandolin, banjo, steel-string guitar and dobro. While still attending high school, Mark O'Connor was signed to Rounder Records, where he saw the release of six albums.
As a teenager, Mark O'Connor won national championships on the guitar and the mandolin, as well as the fiddle. Mark O'Connor's mentors were Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson and Jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli.
It was in 1983 that Mark O'Connor made a move to Nashville, where he soon became a popular, and much in-demand, session player. He devoted himself to session work and appeared on nearly five hundred recordings in just over six years.
Tammy Wynette's highly acclaimed 'Higher Ground' (Epic Records, 1987) was released by Epic Records in 1987 and included three tracks which were hit singles on the Billboard country music singles chart; 'Your Love' (No.12, 1987), 'Talkin' To My Myself Again' (No.16, 1987) and 'Beneath A Painted Sky' (No.25, 1988).
Tammy Wynette's 'Higher Ground' (Epic Records, 1987), which was produced by Steve Buckingham, featured extraordinary musicians and guest vocalists.
Guest vocalists on Tammy Wynette's 'Higher Ground' (Epic Records, 1987) included the following:
Ricky Skaggs: background vocals on 'Your Love'
Gene Watson: background vocals on 'Tempted'
Vern Gosdin (Sunday 5 August 1934 - Tuesday 28 April 2009): duet vocal on 'Some Things Will Never Change', which was written by Troy Seals and Max D. Barnes (Friday 24 July 1936 - Sunday 11 January 2004)
Emmylou Harris: background vocals on 'Beneath A Painted Sky'
Vince Gill: background vocals on 'I Wasn't Meant To Live My Life Alone' (written by Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet)
Larry Gatlin, Steve Gatlin and Rudy Gatlin: background vocals on 'Higher Ground'
The O'Kanes (Kieran Kane and Jamie O'Hara): background vocals on 'Talking To Myself Again' (written by Jamie O'Hara)
Harry Stinson, John Wesley Ryles and Ricky Van Shelton: background vocals on 'A Slow Burning Fire'
Paul Overstreet: background vocals on 'There's No Heart So Strong' (written by Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet)
Rodney Crowell and Jeanne Smith (background vocals on 'All Through Throwing Good Love After Bad')
Musicians who participated in Tammy Wynette's 'Higher Ground' (Epic Records, 1987) recording sessions included the following:
Mark O'Connor: fiddle, mandolin and guitar
Jerry Douglas: dobro
Mark Casstevens: guitar
Steve Gibson: guitar
Steve Buckingham: guitar
Paul Franklin: steel guitar dobro
Tom Robb: bass
Roy Huskey Junior (Monday 17 December 1956 - Saturday 6 September 1997): upright bass
Eddie Bayers: drums
Randy McCormick: piano
Jay Spell: accordian
Mark O'Connor recorded solo albums for Rounder Records, Warner Bros. Records, Sony and his own OMAC Records label. Mark has won two Grammy Awards, one for 'New Nashville Cats' (Warner Bros. Records, 1991) and another for his 'Appalachian Journey' album he recorded with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer.
It was also in 1991 that Vince Gill earned his first CMA 'Vocal Event Of The Year' Award for his performance with Mark O’Connor and The New Nashville Cats (featuring Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs and Steve Wariner) on Mark O’Connor's 'The New Nashville Cats' (Warner Bros. Records, 1991).
Mark O'Connor was named 'Musician of the Year' by the Country Music Association for six years in a row, from 1991 to 1996.
Mark O'Connor has crossed musical genres, composing, arranging and recording folk, classical and jazz music. His 'Fiddle Concerto' has received over two hundred performances, making it one of the most performed concertos written in the last fifty years. Mark O'Connor has composed six violin concertos, string quartets, string trios, choral works, solo unaccompanied works and a new Symphony.
Mark O'Connor has worked and recorded with a wide variety of artists, including Chet Atkins (Friday 20 June 1924 - Saturday 30 June 2001), James Taylor, Michelle Shocked, Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, Renée Fleming, Stéphane Grappelli, Patty Loveless and The Dixie Dregs.
By 1991, when he released 'The New Nashville Cats' (Warner Bros. Records, 1991), which was a Grammy Award-winning album, Mark O'Connor was following a more independent career and was writing much of his own material.
Mark O'Connor also contributed to Gene Watson's 'At Last' (Warner Bros. Records, 1991); he played fiddle on the tracks 'At Last', 'This Could Go On Forever', 'Only Yesterday' and 'This Country's Bigger Than Texas'.
Speaking of Gene Watson's 'At Last' (Warner Bros. Records, 1991), Mark O'Connor also contributed fiddle and viola to 'I Catch Myself' and fiddle and mandolin to 'The Workin' End Of A Hoe'.