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Marty Raybon Rejoins Shenandoah

Shenandoah
Anthony Ladd, Courtesy of Absolute Publicity

After a 17-year absence, Marty Raybon has announced his return as lead singer of Shenandoah.

Raybon co-founded the group in 1984 with bassist Ralph Ezell, drummer Mike McGuire, guitarist Jim Seales and keyboardist Stan Thorn. He left in 1997, and Shenandoah split up after his departure. Seales and McGuire re-formed the band in 2000 with new members, and Ezell came back shortly after, until his death in 2007.

“We were not a band that broke up because of dissension,” Raybon tells Rolling Stone Country. “We had our disagreements, as partners do in a business relationship, [but] we were then and remain to be friends. Returning to the band had actually been talked about on several different occasions throughout the years.”

Most recently, Raybon hinted at a reunion after Miranda Lambert released ‘Another Sunday in the South,’ a song that pays tribute to Shenandoah’s No. 1 tune, ‘Sunday in the South.’

“The timing of Miranda’s new song is great,” Raybon said then. “This might be the wonderful beginning of something that people have been asking me about for the past 17 years. Stay tuned.”

Current band members McGuire, Stan Munsey and Chris Lucas say they’re excited to have Raybon back in action.

“Having Marty back is like putting on an old baseball glove that fit your hand perfectly a long time ago,” McGuire says. “We’re like brothers, so playing all our old hits together again feels natural … [T]here will be new faces with us. But at the end of the day, having Marty’s voice coming out of the speakers again will make it be Shenandoah all over again.”

Raybon’s first live show will be Oct. 24 in Enoch, Alberta.

“We have to set a bar that surpasses everything we’ve done in the past,” says Raybon. “In the balancing of new and old songs, there will not be a great deal of change. Stage and lighting has come along way from where it was when we left it, but it still comes down to the music and what people are wanting to hear.”

From the mid-’80s through the mid-’90s, Shenandoah charted 26 singles on the Billboard Hot Country charts, including five No. 1 songs. The band won the ACM Award for Vocal Group of the Year in 1991, and their tune ‘Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart’ with Alison Krauss won a CMA Award for Vocal Event of the Year and a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals in 1995.

“I’ve always been truly proud of what we accomplished … the songs we recorded, the way they moved people. For years, all of us have heard what those tunes, those stories, meant to folks. We feel there is more to be said,” Raybon says. “So it’s time to reload and fulfill the request of fans who want to see us back together.”

NEXT: Is Traditional Country Music Dead?

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