Showing His Scars

Certain songs hold special meaning and evoke emotions from pivotal times in life. Collin Raye is one of those artists who could tell a story with his song and touch his listeners. Several of his country ballads have been used at weddings, funerals and other life events, to commemorate a time or person.

He had a successful run in the ‘90s with four platinum albums and 30 charted singles. He had four No. 1 hits with “Love, Me,” “In This Life,” “My Kind of Girl” and “I Can Still Feel You.”

His singing talent was passed down from his mother, Lois Wray, who opened for the likes of Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. His brother Scotty Wray also inherited her musical ability and began playing guitar as a small child. Together, Collin and Scotty began touring as The Wray Brothers Band. However, the band didn’t pan out and the brothers went their own ways. Collin changed the spelling of his last name to Raye and signed a solo deal with Epic Records in 1990.

The following year, Raye released his debut album titled “All I Can Be,” which was the first of his four consecutive platinum-certified albums. It produced a No. 1 and No. 2 single for Raye, including “Love, Me” and “Every Second.”

His second album, “In This Life,” was released in ‘92 and again he was topping the country charts with the title track. His success continued with his third album in ‘93, “Extremes,” which contained his third No. 1 hit, “My Kind of Girl,” along with two other Top 10s.

His fourth platinum album was 1995’s “I Think About You.” It produced four Top 5 singles, including the title track, which won the Academy of Country Music Award for Video of the Year. Raye’s last No. 1 single, “I Can Still Feel You,” came off of his fifth studio album, “The Walls Came Down,” released in 1998.

Raye continued with Epic into the 2000s for three more records, including an album of lullabies for children and two more studio albums. He then left the label, but kept the music coming for his fans with varied projects throughout the decade, including covers and originals.

He cut a special album in 2013 in tribute to one of his heroes, “Still on the Line… The Songs of Glen Campbell.”

“I just idolized him as a kid watching ‘The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour’ on CBS,” Raye said. “I always thought he hung the moon. Eventually, when I got into the business, I got to know him and we became friends. When we first heard he had Alzheimer’s, I wanted to make that record while he could still comprehend it. I wanted him to know it and hear it. I’m so proud of that record — so proud of it. The bonus of doing an album like that is that it gives me the license to play some of that music in the live show.”

Guests in Laughlin may be treated to a rendition of “Rhinestone Cowboy” when Raye returns to the Riverside Resort Jan. 19-22.

“I always love coming down there — I love playing the Riverside because it’s one of those rare places I stay in one place for more than one day and I get to enjoy it,” he said. “I can tell my little stories and my little jokes and just talk about the music and do a few songs that I wouldn’t do in a larger venue. I enjoy that more, actually.”

His ‘90s hits will be on tap, as well as some of his newer work. Raye’s latest album was his 2020 release called “Scars,” which was a new venture into the “Americana” style and included 14 new tracks, 12 of which he wrote.

“Most of the stuff I wrote was new, written just for this record, and for that reason, I’m extremely proud of it because it’s very personal to me,” Raye stated. “If you look at my Sony albums, I would always have one or two cuts on there, but I never wrote half or more of an album, so this was a definite turn for me. I had to really work for this, roll my sleeves up and prove to myself that I’m a good writer. I’m really happy with it. This was such a fun record to make and I’ve never felt so creative on any album.”

The title track “Scars” was written by Raye’s late brother Scotty, who passed away last year. Scotty had been a guitarist on tour with Miranda Lambert for more than 20 years, and as such, Lambert had sung his song live before, but never recorded it.   

She agreed to sing backing vocals on Raye’s cut for the new album.

“That was a real blessing and it’s not just because she’s Miranda Lambert and she’s such a superstar, but she’s a really great singer, and she loves the song,” Raye stated. “She already knew the song so well that I bet we spent far more time in the studio laughing and cutting up than she spent in the vocal booth. I bet she wasn’t in there 10 minutes and she was done. It just turned out perfect.  She’s just a great artist and I just felt like that kind of really anointed the album having her on it.”

Another special guest on the album was Vince Gill, who lends his voice to the track “Rodeo Girl.” Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys plays electric guitar throughout the album as well.

The final track is another special moment Raye was able to share with his brother, honoring their mother on a song he wrote, “Mama Sure Could Sing.” Both brothers lent vocals on this one.

“Mama really was a great singer,” Raye stated. “She was a professional singer and worked with Buck Owens a little bit and played Vegas. Scotty had the idea for ‘Mama Sure Could Sing’ and we approached it like a Ralph Stanley blue-grassy kind of treatment. I just felt like it was such a sweet, somber testament to her and it should be the last thing on the record. I love the fact that the last thing you hear is me and Scotty singing together a cappella.”