Country singer Vince Gill is getting a belated Christmas gift this summer.
While performing a more than two-and-a-half hour concert (without any opening act or an intermission) Thursday at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Gill, 57, told the audience he will be a first-time grandfather in August.
"I had the entire family, including all of our kids, with us at Christmas and I had a surprise gift waiting for me," Gill said.
"I always get socks and underwear. And it's become a tradition for me to make everyone breakfast on Christmas morning. So when my daughter Jenny came in the kitchen and said she had one more gift for me, I thought, 'Oh great, more underwear.' But instead, she handed me a card with an ultrasound picture in it of the baby that's on the way."
Gill also had another surprise for Star Plaza audiences. While his gospel singer wife Amy Grant didn't join him for this tour, Gill did introduce expectant daughter Jenny (from his first marriage to singer Janis Oliver of Sweethearts of the Rodeo) on stage to join him for four songs, as well as a return for a three-song encore at the finale of the concert.
Thursday was an extra special night for Jenny, 34, since she announced it marked her 4-year-wedding anniversary to husband Josh Van Valkenburg, who wasn't traveling with the tour. She's also hard-at-work on a singing career of her own.
"I've been busy helping Jenny try to find a record company," Gill said.
"If I were a record company, I'd give her a contract. But unfortunately, I don't own a record label."
Jenny, who told the audience her father can be intimidating to others, something she found especially true during her dating days, performed the songs "Daddy's Out Shoppin' for a Gun," "Whiskey Words" and "Lean on Love." She completed her set with her version of the late singer Alex Chilton of The Box Tops '60s tune "The Letter."
This was the first time I'd seen Vince Gill perform live in concert since 1993, when I saw him with my mom Peggy performing on stage with singer Mary Chapin Carpenter at Notre Dame University. So for this Star Plaza visit, I brought my mom along for a backstage reunion to congratulate Gill and his daughter on their special early Mother's Day family news for their fans.