ABC: As you travel around America, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing those living in the more rural parts of America?
Vince Gill (VG): The American countryside is full of small businesspeople – farmers, store owners, independent truckers – as well as dedicated people whose jobs depend on a thriving economy. I think the parts of this country that need help are looking for a hand up, not a hand out. Give the people the tools and they will do great things.
ABC: What do you see as the value of America’s rural communities to the country as a whole?
VG: There are so many things – rural communities feed America, supply its energy, volunteer for the military. They contribute out of proportion to their size, and everybody in the country benefits.
ABC: What inspired you to become part of America’s Best Communities competition?
VG: I’m from the American heartland – Oklahoma. My mom grew up on a farm and my dad is from a little town that doesn’t even have a stoplight. This vast part of our country is made of up of some of the finest, hardest-working, most honorable people anywhere. But they don’t have it easy, and they need our help.
ABC: Which values have remained constant in rural America, and what would rural Americans like our leaders to know about those values?
VG: Treat people fairly, work hard, treasure your friends and family – it all springs from knowing in your heart what is right, and doing it.
ABC: How does this relate to your music?
VG: Some of my favorite songs are about rural America and its people, and there’s a lot of small town community in me. About 10 years ago, Al Anderson and I wrote and recorded a song called “What You Give Away,” and one of the lines is, “The measure of a man is one who lends a hand.” I truly believe that, and I believe that music can inspire people to do good things.
ABC: What can America gain by nurturing the traditions and hard work of so many people?