Collin Raye turns over a new leaf
By Andy Argyrakis
From the pages of the official publicity biography
As one of the most familiar voices in country music history, Collin Raye’s scored an astounding fifteen number one singles, twenty-four consecutive top ten tunes, four platinum albums, plus a trophy case full of Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Awards. While it would be easy to simply replicate a smash string of singles that includes “Love, Me,” “In This Life,” “That’s My Story,” “Little Rock,” “My Kind of Girl,” “The Gift” and “I Can Still Feel You,” Never Going Back finds the singer/songwriter exposing his personal side more than ever before and exploring a compelling variety of sonic threads.
“I’ve always loved being a chameleon and I hate when labels try to market artists in one format,” Raye relates of his latest album. “That’s why there’s a lot of variety on this, from some straight ahead country to some fun rocking songs and a lot of different tones and textures.”
Though Raye remains in the midst of major label life, he’s made the jump from the Epic family to Time Life. “I remember Time Life ever since I was a kid and they used to sell World War II videos on TV,” recalls Raye with a chuckle. “At first I thought they were going to invite me to re-record my top twenty hits, but they wound up being open to a brand new album and asked what kind I wanted to make, which is exactly what Never Going Back turned out to be- basically allowing me to reinvent my mold.”
Amongst the mixture of beautiful love songs (“Take Care of You” and “Without You” with the Grammy-nominated Susan Ashton), Eagles-inspired road trip tunes (the title track) and even the comical country barnburner “Mid-Life Chrysler,” one track stands out from the pack as possibly Raye’s most poignant reflection to date. Lead single and video “She’s With Me” is a spine chilling ballad about his granddaughter Haley, who lives with an undiagnosed neurological disorder of an incredibly severe nature.
“She’s nine years old, and as a result of this neurological disorder, she’s lost her ability to talk, sit up, swallow and walk,” explains the somber singer. “She’s fed by a tube and is totally bed ridden to the point where she can’t scratch an itch or communicate. She also has congestion that is constantly trying to choke her, so to say this is difficult would be an immense understatement.”
In keeping with classic Raye tradition, he’s taken the unbelievable hardship and put pen to paper, in turn, becoming a beacon of strength for his family. Along the way, the tune’s also impacted millions of others across the globe, even becoming a theme song for Operation Kids and subsequently fueling the superstar’s philanthropic patterns.
“It actually took me a couple years to come up with it, but once I did, I wrote it down in literally twenty minutes,” he continues. “He’s not only given this to comfort my family, but we’ve been pounded daily with stories and emails about people experiencing the same situation. In an autograph line, I’d say 75 out of a 100 people want to talk about that song and share their story and it’s turned into something so much bigger than I could ever imagine.”
While “She’s With Me” is currently racing up the charts, Raye’s current lifestyle isn’t ruled by industry accolades, but instead a commitment to family. Not only does Never Going Back present an artist creating with the most clarity and connectivity to date, but also inspiring anyone going through a difficult journey of any association.
“I’ve always tried to name my albums with a double meaning and sometimes they’re a title for a song,” relates Raye. “In this case, it’s the title cut, but it also signifies a right of passage in my career. This isn’t me saying I’m not going to look back since there isn’t a single negative memory associated with my past. Rather I wrote this record to signify a new chapter in my life, where the motivation behind what I do has changed drastically and my overall purpose has become much clearer than it’s ever been before.”
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