He was born in Norman, Oklahoma and learned to play banjo and guitar before he started high school. After he graduated, he played in a number of bluegrass bands including the Pure Prairie League.
He signed with RCA Records in 1983, and scored his first solo hits while on that label. In 1989 he switched to MCA Records where he recorded his breakthrough hit "When I Call Your Name."
His 1998 album The Key received great critical acclaim, and is considered by some to be among the best country music albums ever released.
His other albums include Next Big Thing (2003) and Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye (2000).
He hosted the CMA Awards every year from 1992 to 2003. In 2004 he received a Grammy Award for "Best male country vocal performance".
Gill married Christian pop singer Amy Grant in March 2000. He was previously married to singer Janis Gill, whom he divorced in 1997.