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De Queen-born Raye plans acoustic show at Juanita’s

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published April 25, 2013 at 2:59 a.m.

Collin Raye

Collin Raye has a lot of country hits to his credit, but it has been a while since he came around central Arkansas to perform them. He intends to make amends for that this weekend, with a show at Juanita’s in Little Rock.

“We’re doing more of an acoustic show there,” he says, “with a piano player and a fiddle/mandolin player, making it a three-man show. We do about half our shows like this, rather than the band that’s electric. I like this configuration, and I hear from the fans that they do, too. I’m getting to the age where I enjoy acoustic stuff a bit more.”

Raye, 52, was born in De Queen, and he reports how pleased he is that his hometown last year turned his boyhood home into the Collin Raye Birthplace Museum, although he adds that unlike Abraham Lincoln and others, he was not born at home, but in the town’s then-hospital.

“It seems so surreal that they did that,” he says with a laugh, “especially since a lot of times folks don’t get such an honor until after they have died. For a singer to get that honor was really special. I gave them several guitars, a lot of photos and some stage clothes to put in there.”

Between 1991 and 2011, Raye released 13 albums, with 15 of his singles hitting No. 1. Among his song videos, four of them made the Country Music Television Top 100 Videos of All Time: “Love, Me,” “Not That Different,” “I Think About You” and “Little Rock.”

“Some folks would mention that Reba McEntire also had a song named ‘Little Rock,’ but hers was about a diamond ring, and mine was about the city of Little Rock,” Raye says, noting that he would certainly be performing his song in the city of the same name this weekend.

Another local event he’s involved with, Collin Fest, has become an every-other-year rather than an annual event, and he says he’s thinking of moving the celebration to the nearby larger city of Texarkana, so that more people would be likely to come.

“But the funds raised would still go to charities in De Queen,” he says.

Raye has been busy on a couple of new fronts recently, recording a tribute album to Glen Campbell and writing an autobiography.

“When I was growing up I was enamored of him on his TV show,” Raye recalls. “I was from De Queen and he was from Delight, so it was almost like we were neighbors, and then we became friends after I made it in country music. He was a hero to us as I grew up, and I must have seen the original True Grit about 500 times because he was in it, along with John Wayne, of course.”

His book, to be called That’s My Story: The Undefeated Life of Collin Raye, will be published by Ignatius Press, probably in August - Raye’s birthday month.

“That was another honor for me, that they would come to me because they saw my life as a good story,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of tragedy in my life, but I’ve survived it with a smile on my face and put one foot in front of the other and kept going, trying to do good in the world.”

Raye’s granddaughter, Haley, died at age 9 in April 2010 from a severe undiagnosed brain disorder.

He says, “I think it’s in a man’s DNA to think he can fix things, but this was something where God was saying to me, ‘No, you can’t.’”

Collin Raye

Opening acts: Big Shane Thornton, Brandi Shae

9:30 p.m. Friday, Juanita’s, 614 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock

Admission: $17 advance, $20 day of show

(501) 372-1228

www.juanitas.com

Weekend, Pages 34 on 04/25/2013

Print Headline: De Queen-born Raye plans acoustic show at Juanita’s

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