There are few who have changed the world so much with music as the late Kenny Rogers, the singer-songwriter whose songbook is beyond legendary — his music lives in people’s hearts worldwide.
Rogers was also known for a warm, outgoing personality that made him a favourite of music fans everywhere, not just in the Country genre which he reigned over, selling 100 million albums around the world, with songs like “The Gambler,” “Lucille,” “Daytime Friends,” “Islands in the Stream” … more than 100 hit singles across various genres.
It’s a tall order for a tribute artist to bring that legacy to the stage and that persona to life, but Marty Edwards has been doing that for decades, with his Kenny Rogers tribute shows “Sweet Music Man” and “Kinda Kenny.”
“Sweet Music Man” the No. 1 International Tribute to Kenny Rogers will be coming to the Royal Alexandra Hall in Cranbrook, on Sunday September 10.
Marty Edwards has been playing music professionally all his life in Canadian bands, even covering a few Rogers’ songs. But 25 years ago, he started his Kenny Rogers’ tribute show at the suggestion of Vancouver producer James Bauer. Edwards tried it out at a benefit show he put on for kids, In 1998 he produced the first annual Put A Little Love In Your Heart benefit concert, an annual benefit concert for abused children, “and I threw the Kenny Rogers thing in.”
Since then, Edwards has performed his Rogers tribute in nine countries on four different continents.
“Kenny’s music changed my life,” Edwards said. “I’m a very shy person — But when I started doing this, I realized that if I’m going to deliver a top product to the audience — they’re not coming to see Marty Edwards, they’re coming to see Kenny Rogers. That was like a switch flipping for me. Because all of a sudden on stage, I’m not me. So I’m not that nervous wallflower anymore, that would never talk to anyone in a checkout line. I’m Kenny Rogers, and I’ve got to swagger.
“And it was his music and doing the show. Even now, doing the show, and his music, it’s helped me in my non-Kenny projects. It’s helped me in my personal life. I can talk to people and feel comfortable doing that.”
Edwards has even met Kenny Rogers a couple of times, before Rogers’ passing in 2020. And so how does one bring to an audience not just the songs everybody loves, but the warmth, charm and persona of the man himself?
“Ever since I started doing this. my whole goal has been, anyone who’s ever been to a Kenny Rogers show will go, yeah, wow, it’s like being at one of his shows,” Edwards said. “And for folks who are just new to his music and discovering it, it will give them a flavour of what Kenny’s shows were like.”
There are three elements to this, Edwards said. First of all, the look (which Edwards has naturally has — the silver hair, the trim beard). Secondly, the sound and the songs, of course.
“But the third thing is the attitude, the mannerisms, the sense of stage presence, the signature moves … You have to do more than just play his songs, you have to represent the man himself, and his spirit.”
Edwards will be joined at the Royal Alexandra Hall by Nashville recording artist Pam Ferens. Edwards has worked with her on and off over the years, and she’ll be coming to Cranbrook to sing a few songs.
“What I’m really looking forward to is singing a few duets with her,” Edwards said. “We just got back from an 18-city sold-out tour of Australia. That’s my eighth time over there, and we always do well there.”
Performers have to create a synergy with the audiences, wherever they play, and Edwards has gotten to know his audiences around the world pretty well.
“It’s been absolutely fabulous. Canadian audiences tend to be a little more reserved than U.S. audiences, U.S. audiences tend to be more reserved than Australian audiences. They can be pretty wild. The songs have become almost cult songs, everyone sings along.”
Everywhere, everyone knows the music of Kenny Rogers.
Marty Edwards performs as Kenny Rogers in Sweet Music Man, at the Royal Alexandra Hall in the Cranbrook History Centre, Sunday September 10, at 2 pm. Tickets are $29.50, which includes taxes and fees, and are available online at: showtime101.eventbrite.com
Fr more information contact the Royal Alexandra Hall at (250) 489-3918.