In 1999, my stepmother was very pregnant with my brother. Collin Raye was playing a show in Ocala, Florida and there was no way my parents and I were going to miss this event. We put my stepmother on a plane so she didn’t have to sit in a car for a five-hour drive and excitedly traded our tickets for park entry.
Unfortunately, due to show timing, we had to zip back to the airport for the return flight and never got to see Raye even step on stage. This sad situation has been a topic of conversation in my family for my brother’s entire life (he’ll be nineteen this Friday).
Last Wednesday, August 22, I finally got to see one of the country artists who provided the songs I learned to drive to, sang along to with the windows open, and still hit the back button on so I can hear them a few times in a row before I move on to the next Sirius XM tune. Some may say nineteen years is a long time to wait, and while it is, it was worth every last moment.
Not only was Raye on hand in Nashville at City Winery to perform twenty-five years worth of hit songs; he was there to ring in his fifty-eighth birthday in front of fans, friends, and industry peers. As he belted out song after song, many of which had to be constructed into medleys to ensure no hit was left behind, Raye proved to Music City that he isn’t just as good as he once was — he’s even better.
He opened the show with the quick tempoed “That’s My Story” and immediately went into my personal favorite (and one of my favorite songs in country music history), “Little Rock.” He proceeded to mix in his early hits with his later hits, pointing out in the crowd songwriters, former label mates, and critical supporters along the way. As he trucked on through a ninety-minute plus set list, which ultimately contained three lengthy medleys, that kept the audience singing all night, Raye’s vocals never faltered, showing why he has seventeen No. 1 hits under his belt and still packs houses to date.
Collin Raye’s album, Twenty-Five Years Twenty-Five Hits, is available now and is a must-have in your collection. To order it and to keep up with Raye, visit his official website at collinraye.com.
PS … My dad and stepmom got many photos and updates during the show. They are incredibly jealous!