Country music has always been a central part of Charlie Worsham's life. The Mississippi-born singer-songwriter and sought-after instrumentalist grew up idolizing artists such as Vince Gill and Marty Stuart and memorizing country lyrics in his mom's minivan on the way to banjo lessons. He even made his Grand Ole Opry debut at just 12 years old.
So when asked to name the song that first made him fall in love with the genre, it's understandably tough to settle on just one. But Worsham doesn't hesitate; the credit goes to Vince Gill's 1992 hit "I Still Believe in You."
"I swear, I think I was still going to -- it might've been Kindergarten, but I listened to that song so much. And I didn't understand completely what it was -- the situation being sung about," Worsham tells Wide Open Country. "What I understood though, was the emotion, the sadness, but also the [message of] 'I know this isn't right, but I'm going to make it right.' I just remember connecting with that song so strongly. I loved songs that made me want to dance around the room and learn to play guitar just as much, but I remember that song in particular -- the emotion of it. I maybe didn't know it at the time that that's one of the textbook things about country."
In addition to his friend and collaborator Gill, Worsham gives a nod to another country legend and the partial inspiration for Gill's "Go Rest High On That Mountain," the late great Keith Whitley and his song "Tell Lorrie I Love Her."
"My mom kept Keith Whitley's Greatest Hits in the minivan and we'd make trips over the years for me to get banjo lessons. That CD got wore out," Worsham says. "I just remember knowing about Keith's life story and hearing about that song. You can just hear in his voice the pain in that song. That's the power of country music. You don't often get it when you turn the radio on and hear a random partying song on there, but our true power lies in our ability to connect with people at our weakest moments and share our vulnerabilities."
Worsham recently released his EP Sugarcane, the follow-up to his 2017 album Beginning of Things.
For more of Rooted in Country, check out Wide Open Country's Rooted in Country Spotify playlist, which includes artists featured in our ongoing series alongside the songs and country legends that shaped them.