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Collin Raye

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One of the true hitmakers of the 1990s, Collin Raye still continues to crank out soulful, heartfelt material with the honesty and richness that is signature to his vocals on his newly formed label StarPointe Records.

His new “Selected Hits” CD that is now exclusively at Walmart contains two new songs, “A Soldier”s Prayer” and “Quitters”. “A Soldier”s Prayer” rides that prevalent theme during wartime, but rather than beating a dead horse, this song takes a slightly different approach and states a truth to all of us, not just those in uniform, but that hope is alive and is strong and is Our Heavenly Father.

“Quitters” is just flat out inspirational delivered in fine vocal form and the hook is catchy. Collin says, “I’m a big fan of live material . . . and as a matter of fact, I’d like to see more live music released by country artists. These tracks featured the Salt Lake Symphony, an 80-piece orchestra, along with four more of my previous hits - “That’s My Story”, “Little Rock”, “I Think About You”, and “Love Me” -  and it made me wonder how they’d mock up the arrangement. It’s really a flawless presentation of the originals, but with a high energy exciting feel to the up-tempo songs and an intimacy in the slower songs.”

And if that is not enough, Collin recently contributed to the Newly Released Album, Songs 4 Worship: Country that was released in 2008. This wonderful collection of songs from other artists besides Collin was co-produced by Teddy Gentry and Michael Curtis. Collin’s song on the album is “Get Up In Jesus Name” which is not only inspirational but will have you toe tapping and hand clapping to the music.

At every sold-out concert, at every radio-station visit, the mega hit maker gets asked by fans and industry professionals alike, “Hey, man, when are you going to put out a new record?”

“My recording career isn’t done by a long shot,” Collin promises them. “I didn’t go away into hibernation. I tour all the time, so I know there’s a demand for a new album. I wouldn’t put out records again unless I thought that people really wanted them. And they do.”

Actually, he’s been working on his new Twenty Years and Change collection all along. In between the constant concert appearances, he began traveling to Nashville three years ago. During each visit, he would record a song or two.

“One of the great things about making this album was having the freedom of going into the studio with no one looking over my shoulder,” comments Collin. “I didn’t feel like I was on some kind of treadmill. I didn’t set out any timetable. I didn’t think, “Let’s make a hit single, right now.” I said, “Let’s just make this as good as it can be, to where it sounds good to us. Then we’ll step back and look at the whole thing.”

“In the end, we wound up with 23 songs. And these twelve are the best of those 23.”

Those twelve include some instant classics, as well as some bona fide classics. In the latter category are Collin Raye’s island-flavored reinterpretation of The Bellamy Brothers’ chestnut “Let Your Love Flow”, a heartfelt “It’s Only Make Believe” tribute to the late Conway Twitty, a powerful reworking of the 1985 Survivor hit “The Search Is Over” and a remake of Don Henley’s “You’re Not Drinkin’ Enough” that takes the tune straight into a honky-tonk.

Always a masterful ballad singer, Collin pours emotion into the wistful “Forgotten”, the reassuring “We’ll Be Alright” and the lovely romantic “All I Can Do Is Love You”. “Hurricane Jane”, on the other hand, is a good-time rocker. “Heart” has a lusciously melodic, mid-tempo groove.

“I Know That’s Right”, the collection’s first single, has a stirring message lyric. Two other standouts are story songs. “Josephine” tells the tale of a frightened Civil War soldier writing a letter home. “Twenty Years and Change”, written by the artist, is the portrait of a man who has replaced his youthful ideals with a resigned acceptance of his older, more satisfying reality.

Working with a variety of co-producers, Collin Raye is behind every note of music that’s heard on Twenty Years and Change. That, he says, is a first for him. He is proud of his five prior Platinum albums, 25 Top Ten hits, 15 Number One smashes and twelve chart-topping videos. However, maintaining his high standards wasn’t always easy.

“The last record I made for Sony, I’ll never forget the meeting where they said, “We took a poll around the building and 70% voted for this song as your single.” I said, “You took a vote around the building? I thought it was between the executive, the producer, the radio-promotion department and me. The receptionist has a vote? The art department?” It seemed that everybody was getting a say-so about song selection. You can’t make records that way.

Collin Raye is nothing, if not passionate. His fiery delivery has made country standards of such searing ballads as “Love, Me”, “In This Life”, “Not That Different” and “Little Rock”. Always an electrifying showman, he has also blazed through such vivid rockers as “My Kind of Girl”, “That’s My Story”, “I Can Still Feel You” and “I Want You Bad”.

His commitment to music has been life-long. Collin has been singing professionally since he was a teenager. He has never held any other job.

“I grew up steeped in traditional country music,” Collin reports. “I knew every song on Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits by heart. To this day, I can sing them to you. I think that’s where I got my love of story songs.

“We never missed a country package show when one came through Little Rock. I remember seeing Porter Wagoner & The Wagonmasters with Dolly Parton, George Jones & The Jones Boys, Merle Haggard, Charley Pride and Conway Twitty, all on the same bill! Ray Price, Buck Owens, I loved them all.”

His mother, Lois Wray, was a country singer, and he was on stage with her by the age of seven. The family moved from Arkansas to Texas when he was young, and at age thirteen he and his older brother Scott formed The Wray Brothers band to entertain in the Lone Star State.

The brothers migrated to lucrative casino work in Reno, Nevada. Billed as “Bubba Wray,” Collin became a master of stagecraft and a “human jukebox” whose repertoire included thousands of songs from across the American musical landscape. The Wrays first attracted Nashville’s attention with a string of independent-label singles recorded in the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s. Mercury Records signed them and issued a couple of singles in 1986-87.

But Scott tired of the road, and the band broke up. Collin had married in 1980 and fathered daughter Brittany in 1983 and son Jacob in 1985. Like his brother, he also considered giving up music. That all changed when he began making solo records in 1990. Scott, by the way, is now bandleader for new Nashville star Miranda Lambert.

Collin shot to fame with “Love, Me” in 1991. Listeners were so touched that they used its lyrics at funerals and memorial services. That set the cornerstone for a career built on meaningful songs. “Little Rock” was an anthem for the recovery community. “Not That Different” pleaded for tolerance. “In This Life” became a wedding favorite. He won awards for the child-advocacy video “I Think About You”.

Five times nominated as country music’s Male Vocalist of the Year, Collin Raye has consistently used his stardom to advance social causes. Among the organizations he has supported are Boys Town, First Steps, Al-Anon, Special Olympics, Country Cares About AIDS, Catholic Relief Services, Parade of Pennies, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, The Tennessee Task Force Against Domestic Violence, The Emily Harrison Foundation, Childhelp USA, Silent Witness National Initiative, Easter Seals and Make a Difference Day. At the 2001 Country Radio Seminar, Clint Black presented Collin Raye with the organization’s Humanitarian of the Year award in recognition of Collin’s issue-oriented music and his tireless charity work.

But when the album he released later that year wasn’t successfully promoted, Collin asked for his release from Sony. Contractual roadblocks didn’t allow Collin to seek a new record deal for a period of time. Eventually he was able to aggressively try to get back in the record business.

Thus, Collin Raye began looking for a home for Twenty Years and Change. He turned down major-label overtures to sign with Infinity Records in 2004, but that company folded, further delaying his return to disc. The Navarre-distributed Aspirion picked up his recording contract in August 2005.

The man who has topped the charts with such great songs as “On the Verge”, “One Boy, One Girl”, “What the Heart Wants”, “Every Second” and “That Was a River” is finally ready for another round of successes.

“I believe in Providence,” says Collin Raye. “I believe there’s a reason things happen the way they do. I also believe that if you’ve treated people right and you continue to work hard at your craft, things will happen. I want to keep going. I want hit records. I want to make music.”

Mixing up the laid back rock and folk of mid-seventies Southern California with country and rock n roll, Collin Raye creates a sophisticated and diverse album on Never Going Back (2009). Full of songs that subtly recall the great, organic music of that era, Raye pulls them right into the future with his distinctive sound and style.Recorded in Alabama’s historic Muscle Shoals, the album feels guided by the ghosts of the country, rock, blues and pop albums that the region cultivated throughout the‘70s. And like a fantastic LP, this CD is great from start to finish. From the roaring, feel-good romp of “Mid-LifeChrysler”, and the powerful reworking of “Without You” (a duet with Grammy nominee Susan Ashton) to the unforgettable, intensely personal “She’s With Me”, every tune is finely crafted, sure to connect with his legions of fans.

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