Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Country music star Collin Raye has been immersed in the genre all of his life. His mother was a country singer and by the age of 7, he was joining her on stage. Raye, whose real last name was "Wray," joined with his older brother to form the Wray Brothers duo. By the age of 13, they were entertaining people in Arkansas, Texas and Nevada. The brothers began recording in the 1980's and were signed by Mercury Records in 1986. Raye was not just influenced by his family's music. This was the era where all the legends of country music were actively touring; Raye regularly attended concerts by the likes of Porter Waggoner and Dolly Parton, George Jones and Buck Owens.
After his brother left the act, Collin Raye began to polish up a solo act. He got famous with the single, "Love, Me" in 1991, which was nominated by the CMA as Single of the Year. Raye received nominations for Male Vocalist of the Year in 1996, 1997 and 1998. With his five platinum records, he had 25 top-ten hits, 15 #1 hits and 12 acclaimed videos.
Collin Raye is very active with charities, including: 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.
WHAT ARE YOUR LATEST PROJECTS?
My new CD, "Twenty Years and Change," was released in late October. The single, "I know That's Right," is doing pretty well. I was pretty nervous about this CD; I hadn't put out a new CD in over four years.
YOU TOOK A HIATUS FROM RECORDING -- IN COUNTRY MUSIC, THERE'S A PRESSURE TO GET A NEW CD OUT EVERY YEAR. DID THAT AFFECT YOU?
I know! We would have release dates from Sony for the next three songs and we hadn't even chosen the songs yet. How can you make a great record like that? Then, with some singers who are really hot, there's this philosophy from everyone in the business, "Let's milk this while we can. Who knows how long this buss is gonna last?"
YOU PASSED BY BIG LABELS TO GO TO AN INDIE THAT ENDED UP FOLDING. DID THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO GO BACK TO THE BIG LABELS?
Sony took a poll around the building about what my single should be. I mean, they were asking people in the mailroom, the secretaries. I had a really good run there. I wasn't trying to be Frank Sinatra. At the end of the day, an artist has to answer to himself. But when I left, there were some contractual things that prevented me from recording. Those contracts look like a dictionary or an encyclopedia. There were other big record companies, but they would have 50 acts on their roster. They didn't even sound excited about welcoming me. It was like, "We'd love to have you on the roster..." Plus, they weren't even trying to get a record out. They were talking about me having a record in 2007 and this was in 2002. They would have rather made an automatic $1 million than to work to make $3 million. I kept making music on my own dime. The price I paid was the price I paid! But, I didn't have to answer to anybody. It was a matter of survival. When I had already recorded and picked out songs, I picked out a label.
IS IT HARD TO PUT OUT MUSIC WITH WALMART AND CLEAR CHANNEL DRIVING AMERICAN MUSIC?
Very much so. You can over think it, though. You have to think about your legacy. When Willie Nelson made Red Headed Stranger, the greatest county album of all time, the label wanted him to add more songs. They threatened not to put it out. He said, "No, it's done. All it needs is out." He had a clause in his contract that they had to put it out.
DO YOU WISH YOU HAD A CLAUSE LIKE THAT?
I probably did. But then, I'd have to face all those people in the building and still work with them. A record is not gonna do well unless you have the whole machine working for you.
YOU WERE A CHILD PRODIGY, TOURING WITH YOUR FAMILY. TELL ME ABOUT THAT.
That's all I knew growing up. My older brother was a real guitar prodigy. He had a Telecaster. We were singing Don Rich and Buck Owens. I was the cute little brother. I played tambourine; I could keep time. I wore boots and jeans, but not a cowboy hat. I was in Texas and back then, only cowboys wore cowboy hats; you'd get your ass kicked if you weren't a cowboy!
YOU'VE NEVER HELD ANOTHER JOB?
As a teenage, I worked for the summer at a filling station. I was 16, my stepfather owned it. I was still playing 3-6 nights a week, sleeping for 3-4 hours and I would still go to school . . .sometimes! I worked at the filling station because I needed some cash. When you work like that, it tires you out so you don't get into trouble. My stepfather, he trusted me enough to from 4 to midnight. It helped me to feel like a man. Even in my high school bands, I was always the one with the drive. Even when I was the youngest.
ON YOUR WEB SITE, THE CHAT ONLINE SECTION SAYS, "MAYBE EVEN CHAT WITH COLLIN," DO YOU REALLY GO INTO THE CHAT ROOM?
Like, twice. It's been a while. I'll tell you why. I don't type very well. I wouldn't be surprise if my management says I do, though. I do sign my own photos, though. Otherwise, it'd be lame!
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH ALL THESE CHARITIES?
They find you. With Child Help, I donated money to them long before I was famous. Same with Catholic Relief. Then, I approached them. I have also performed for the troops in Kosovo; I'm up for going back anytime they want! I sang Beatles songs to school children there. I knew they would know the songs. The kids started singing the chorus of Let It Be! But there are many charities out there and you only have so much time. I try to help the ones that nobody is helping, the ones with urgency. For instance, St. Jude's is a wonderful charity, but they have many celebrities helping them. They don't need me. We tried to help with Katrina, we called everyone we knew. Everyone pounded down on the Gulf Coast. People were flying themselves down to get camera time. I would hate it if people thought I were capitalizing on people's suffering to look like a king. I feel that if they get the cameras out, that's the time to stop. But my publicists would say I was crazy! http://www.collinraye.com
at 4:39 PM