A comment made to gospel music singer Larry Turner, by George Strait’s father, during a chance meeting, planted the seed that eventually led Turner into country music and a career as a George Strait Tribute Artist. Starting at smaller venues, and working other gigs in between, he had spent almost a decade perfecting his Strait tribute. In 2008, he reached the pinnacle of most Tribute Artist’s careers when he started performing his Strait tribute in the world’s greatest tribute show, Legends in Concert.
“Branson – Up Close and Personal,” is a service of the Branson Tourism Center and is intended to provide readers with an up close and personal look at a Branson star or personality. The format will be “Question and Answer” with Larry Turner (LT) being interviewed for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) by Gary J. Groman, a 31 year resident of the Branson area, local columnist and freelance writer.
BTC: If you could perform or meet with any entertainer/person (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
LT: The Oak Ridge Boys. Although they have played in Branson several times, I have never gotten to meet them.
BTC: In terms of your performance as George Strait, what term do you prefer people use when they describe what it is you do, “Tribute Artist” or something else?
LT: Tribute Artist.
BTC: Where were you born?
LT: In Carthage, Missouri, about 100 miles from here.
LT: 1953. I’m one year younger than George [Strait].
BTC: How old were you when you first started singing?
LT: I was a Junior in high school.
BTC: What were the circumstances?
LT: I was playing football, had to stop because of asthma, and started singing in the high school choir because of the encouragement of the Music Director.
BTC: When did you first realize that you wanted to make a living singing?
LT: Probably, when I was a Senior in high school.
BTC: Where was your first professional gig?
LT: Don’t know exactly, but it would have been some church in southwest Missouri because I traveled around leading the music for revivals.
BTC: What is your favorite genre of music?
LT: Gospel and second would be country.
BTC: When did you first perform in Branson?
LT: I came here in 2004 with Presleys’ Country Jubilee.
BTC: Had you ever been to Branson before that?
LT: Many times as a tourist and to see shows..
BTC: Where did you work prior to coming to Branson?
LT: I was at Precious Moments in Carthage, Missouri for 12 years as the entertainment director and performer.
BTC: Did something happen while you were there that steered you toward your current role as a George Strait Tribute Artist?
LT: George’s dad came to one of our shows around 1992, when the movie “Pure Country” had just come out. Afterwards he came up and told me that I looked a lot like his son, that got me thinking.
BTC: When did it start to become a reality?
LT: In the late 90’s my wife and I were on vacation in Las Vegas. We saw the ads for the Legends in Concert tribute show, and went to see it. As we walked out of there, I recalled what Georges father had said and I thought, “Hmm, there might be a possibility for something like this.”
BTC: When did you first perform as a George Strait tribute artist?
LT: I started doing some small gigs right about that time and did some George Strait during the Precious Moments Show.
BTC: When did you start as a George Strait Tribute Artist with Legends in Concert?
LT: In about 2008.
BTC: What do you like best about performing in Branson?
LT: The people, the way we honor our Veterans, and the fact that you can be a Christian here.
BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
LT: Work in the yard, play with the dog, and just enjoy my family.
BTC: What specific efforts do you go through to recreate George Strait’s mannerisms, style, and vocal characteristics to provide as authentic a George Strait as possible.
LT: Although at first glance his style is primarily stand and sing, I have studied his videos and You Tubes to incorporate his nuances such as his stance, the way he accentuates his words the way he holds his mike, and other mannerisms into my performance.
BTC: Whether it’s currently in the show or not what is your personal favorite George Strait song?
LT: No question about it, “The Chair.”
BTC: Based on your feel of the audience reactions to your performances, which George Strait song is the audiences favorite?
LT: “Cross My Heart” from the movie “Pure Country.”
BTC: George Strait or not, what is your personal favorite song?
LT: We are standing on “Holy Ground.” I just love that song.
BTC: In your career, of all the performances you have made and you have been in, no matter how big or small, which one personally meant the most to you and why?
LT: Well, there’s really two that are kind of special; performing at the Dove Awards as a member of the “Gospel Lads,” and performing for President George H.W. Bush at Precious Moments.
BTC: Do you have a favorite hobby or activity and what is it?
LT: Love to play golf at Thousand Hills.
BTC: Do you have a “little known” fact about yourself that you think our readers would enjoy?
LT: I always have a lemon drop in my mouth when I perform.
BTC: What brand and why?
LT: It doesn’t matter, whatever brand I can find. It keeps saliva in my mouth.
BTC: How do you feel about performing in Legends in Concert?
LT: I love it; I’m living a dream.
BTC: Anything else you want our readers to know?
LT: I’m a diehard Royals and Chiefs’ fan, have seven grandchildren, three sons, three of the greatest daughter-in- laws you could ever ask for, and have been married to my beautiful wife, Beverly, for 40 years.
When Legends in Concert kicks off its legendary 2017 Branson season on February 3, Turner’s George Strait will joined by Dusty Springfield, The Temptations, The Blues Brothers™ and Elvis Presley in its spring lineup with Guest Artist Prince joining them starting on February 16. Additional information or tickets for the Legends in Concert or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or lodging can be obtained through the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.