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Collin Raye coming to The Maryland Theatre

March 04, 1999|By MEG H. PARTINGTON

Collin Raye learned quickly that music matters.

People have carved the lyrics of the country musician's song "Love, Me" on tombstones and requested "In This Life" be played at their weddings.

Al-Anon's toll-free number received nearly 200,000 calls after he included it on his video for "Little Rock" and the Tennessee Task Force on Domestic Violence honored him for his video, "I Think About You," which raised awareness of spousal abuse.

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"In the beginning, I wanted hits and all that. But what drives me now is what this music means to people. After I attained my initial goals of having hit records, buying a nice house, etc. ... I found myself saying, 'Is this it?' It takes more than money and 'success' to keep me interested," Raye says in a prepared statement.

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His popularity apparently has spread to the Tri-State area. The Maryland Theatre sold all 1,313 tickets to the Texan's Friday, March 5, performance in four days, according to a theater spokeswoman.

Raye, 39, was nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year honors from 1996 to 1998 from Country Music Association and in 1998 from Academy of Country Music. He has produced 12 number-one singles, 17 consecutive top 10's and is one of only eight artists to have their first four albums go platinum, according to information provided by his publicists, Front Page Publicity.

His latest album, "The Walls Came Down," includes two singles that have reached number one - "I Can Still Feel You" and "Someone You Used to Know." Raye lends his songwriting abilities to the title song and "Start Over Georgia" on the new album.

"This album is my favorite for several reasons. The title cut best explains it -'The Walls Came Down' represents where I've come with my music and myself. I didn't put any limits on this album. When you are first starting out, you find yourself being a little cautious and wanting to play it safe. You'll find things on here that you're used to hearing from me but then you'll hear songs that are very different," Raye says in a prepared statement.

One of the more emotional songs on the new album is "The Eleventh Commandment," about child abuse. The chorus of the song explains the title: "Did God overlook it? What ought have been written, the 11th commandment - honor thy children."

Raye, the father of two, says his songs, "Little Rock," "I Think About You" and "What if Jesus Comes Back Like That?" in which Christ returns as a vagrant and a single mother, paved the way for this latest work about an important, yet painful issue.

The video for "The Eleventh Commandment" has raised awareness and also has sparked some controversy. Country Music Television and The Nashville Network have opted not to show it because of its sensitive nature, says Maura Mooney, Raye's publicity coordinator.

Raye's previous albums are "All I Can Be," "In This Life," "Extremes," "I Think About You," "Direct Hits" and "The Gift," a Christmas album.

Born Floyd Collin Wray, he is a product of musical parents. His mother, Lois Wray, opened shows for Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in the 1950s, according to his publicists. He started performing professionally at age 7.

At age 13, Raye and older brother Scott Wray formed The Wray Brothers Band and began performing in Texas roadhouses. That led to shows in Portland, Ore., and casinos in Reno, Nev. They released some singles on Mercury Records between 1986 and 1987 before breaking up, according to Front Page Publicity. Scott Wray now writes songs for his brother's publishing company.

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