Guitarist Brent Mason shares stories from his life and career as part of the Museum's Nashville Cats series, which spotlights musicians who have made significant contributions to country music. This program was recorded on May 20, 2023.
In this interview, led by the Museum’s Michael McCall, Brent Mason talks about his long-running career as a session player in Nashville. The program opens with a video clip of Mason performing with The Players, a band comprised of fellow session musicians Eddie Bayers Jr., John Hobbs, Paul Franklin, and Michael Rhodes, who are all past Nashville Cats honorees.
Mason also recalls growing up in northwestern Ohio in a musical family and teaching himself to play guitar as a child, and later moving to Nashville and landing a job with the Don Kelley Band. Mason credits Chet Atkins with opening the door to regular work as a session musician, with his invitation to Mason to appear on his 1985 album, “Stay Tuned,” which led to opportunities to work with Lee Greenwood, Dan Seals, Randy Travis, and Keith Whitley.
During the show, selections of Mason’s popular guitar riffs are played, and Mason recounts what it was like to record with country stars like Alan Jackson and Shania Twain. Throughout the 1990s, Mason was one of the most in-demand session guitarists in Nashville and played on hits by Brooks & Dunn, Glen Campbell, Joe Diffie, George Jones, Toby Keith, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, George Strait, Aaron Tippin, Travis Tritt, Steve Wariner, and Trisha Yearwood. He has been named the Country Music Association’s Musician of the Year twice and the Academy of Country Music’s Guitarist of the Year a record eleven times.
In recent years, Mason has played on hits by Luke Combs, Vince Gill, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, and Chris Young. Mason also has recorded two albums of his own and is a songwriter whose compositions have been recorded by Jim Ed Brown & the Browns, Lee Greenwood, Johnny Mathis, Collin Raye, Billie Joe Spears, Conway Twitty, and Keith Whitley.
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