Last night, at an event honoring George Strait for his unprecedented 60 career No. 1 singles, UMG Nashville Chairman and CEO Mike Dungan announced the 61-year-old country singer has signed on to record five albums of new material for MCA Nashville. Strait has recorded each of his 40 studio albums with the label, starting with 1981’s Strait Country and including this year’s Love Is Everything, which came out in May.
"I've had a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to a whole lot more," Strait said from the stage, addressing industry attendees.
Strait scored his first No. 1 country single with 1982’s "Fool Hearted Memory," and most recently topped the charts with last year’s "Give It All We Got Tonight." In between, he’s cut enough number ones to fill three concert set lists without overlap, including "Famous Last Words of a Fool" and the indelible "All My Ex’s Live in Texas."
Fans will also be happy to learn that he's adding another leg to his farwell "Cowboy Rides Away Tour," which kicked off back in January. One of the top concert draws in country music history, Strait has sold close to five million tickets over the course of his career and set attendance records at 19 of the nation’s arenas and stadiums. Dates for the tour’s final jaunt, which will extend into 2014, are still forthcoming.
Strait and his backing band Ace in the Hole closed out the night with a four-song set, including classics "Troubadour," the Texas honky-tonk staple “Amarillo by Morning” and the Hank Cochran co-penned barroom ballad "The Chair."
To end the brief set, Strait sang his current single, "I Believe" — a song inspired by the Newtown tragedy, with help from a children’s choir from a Music City elementary school. "After the Newtown tragedy, we were all hurtin’ like everybody else was and we decided to say a little something about it," Strait said when introducing the uplifting tune. "[It's] more of a testament of faith than anything, but also to remember those precious little ones and people that [were] affected by all of this."