Country Music Hall of Fame member George Strait will bring The Cowboy Rides Away Tour to Verizon Arena in North Little Rock on Friday, April 12. Opening the show will be Martina McBride. Show time is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Strait no longer tackles the grueling schedule of 200 or so concerts a year, but he has continued to play select dates. Soon, he will make his fifth appearance at Verizon Arena, formerly known as Alltel Arena. Although he is saying this will be his final tour, the veteran entertainer still loves pleasing his fans.

"When I walk out on stage, that feeling is still there. I still love it, and I’ve got a great band behind me. When the audience is really with you, there’s nothing better than that," Strait said in his public relations biography.

Strait was signed to MCA Records in 1981. His debut single, "Unwound," reached the top 10 on the charts. Many hits followed, including "Amarillo by Morning," "You Look So Good in Love" and "The Fireman." In 1985, the Country Music Association voted "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind" as Album of the Year. In addition, he was named Male Vocalist of the Year by the CMA in 1985 and 1986.

Throughout the 1980s, Strait enjoyed an impressive run of hits, such as "All My Ex’s Live in Texas," "Famous Last Words of a Fool" and "Ace in the Hole." In 1989 and 1990, he took home the prestigious Entertainer of the Year trophy from the CMA.

The world was introduced to a different side of Strait as he made his motion picture debut in "Pure Country" in 1992. For the remainder of the decade, tunes like "Check Yes or No," "One Night at a Time" and "Carrying Your Love with Me" helped him capture more awards and accolades.

In 2002, "She’ll Leave You with a Smile" became Strait’s 50th number one single, breaking Conway Twitty’s all-time record. Since that accomplishment, he has had six more chart-toppers, including "I Hate Everything," "Give It Away," "I Saw God Today."

His upcoming album, "Love Is Everything," is scheduled to be released next month. For the Texas native, he has remained very popular for more than 25 years. He has done all of this without changing his basic sound or musical direction. His traditionalism and western attire have influenced an entire generation of artists that have come on the scene in recent years. His career stands as one of music’s greatest success stories.

"I’ve been successful at what I’m doing," Strait stated. "I’m doing music that I really love. Fortunately, other people have liked it, too. So, I’m happy about that."

Beebe writer Charles Haymes is member of the Country Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association. Email him at