Five-time Grammy Award-winner James Taylor performed Friday and Saturday nights in Salt Lake City with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony at the 30th Anniversary O.C. Tanner Gift of Music gala concert.
The Gift of Music Concert Series was established in 1983 by Obert Tanner, founder of the O.C. Tanner Company, and former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Gordon B. Hinckley. The free-to-the-public concert usually happens every other year and is funded entirely by an endowed trust from Tanner and his wife.
“This musical gift to the community is offered to uplift and unify,” said President Henry B. Eyring, a member of the First Presidency of the LDS Church. Eyring also serves as chairman of the Tanner Gift of Music Committee.
This year’s concert with Taylor was incredibly popular. Tickets were distributed through a lottery process, and a maximum of four tickets per household was allowed. To accommodate those who could not obtain tickets, guests were allowed to get in standby lines for last-minute seating prior to the performances. It is estimated that as many as 42,000 people attended the concerts.
“Taylor was chosen for this anniversary concert because of his broad appeal across many generations and music styles,” the Church’s press release said.
“It just took us a long time to find the date, and this was worth the wait,” Taylor said in a press conference Friday afternoon.
When Taylor first entered the Conference Center on Friday evening, he was welcomed by thundering applause and a standing ovation before he even performed.
Taylor performed several of his most famous songs, including “Carolina in My Mind,” “Fire and Rain” and “Secret O’ Life.” The choir accompanied him for arrangements of “Lonesome Road” and “Shower the People,” among others. The choir also performed songs such as “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” and “Seventy-six Trombones,” a song from “The Music Man.”
Taylor’s music career spans more than 40 successful years. He has sold almost one hundred million records, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama at the White House in 2011 and was awarded the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Government in 2012. Both awards are known as their respective nations’ highest honors.