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Contact: Christina Chapple
Date: 5/10/04
 
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BLUEGRASS SINGER MARTY RAYBON HEADLINES AT COLUMBIA MAY 20
      HAMMOND -- Bluegrass crooner Marty Raybon, who has been described as “a singer who looks beyond words and music to uncover the essence of a great song,” is coming to Southeastern Louisiana University’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts Thursday, May 20.  
      Tickets for the 7 p.m. concert are $25, Orchestra 1 and Loge; $23, Orchestra 2; and $20, Balcony 1. Tickets will be on sale weekdays May 14-20, and can be purchased at the theater box office (985-543-4371, 220 E. Thomas St.), or online through TicketWeb (www.ticketweb.com). Box office hours are noon to 5 p.m.
      Country music fans knew Raybon as the award-winning lead singer of Shenandoah, whose number one hit "The Church On Cumberland Road" helped the group rise high on the tide of the late 80s and early 90s country boom. After 10 years, Raybon has come “Full Circle” – as his latest recording’s title attests – with his first bluegrass release, an album the critics are calling “a top-notch return to his roots.”  
      “What I want out of life,” Raybon said, “is to do some things that bring honor and glory to the Lord, and to do some things that bring some joy and some peace to me as well. Making ‘Full Circle’  was something that was burning in my heart to do.”
      Raybon has had a musical affinity for bluegrass since he was a teenager in Florida in the early 1970s. “I'd sit in school, and I would draw the Bluegrass Unlimited logo or the peghead of Monroe's mandolin in my notebook,” he said. Before long, he was performing as a member of the American Bluegrass Express with his dad Ken and brothers Tim and Rick. The Express made its first recording in1975, when Raybon was still in high school, becoming one of the first Florida-based acts to travel widely beyond their home state.   
      The grind of part-time playing and full-time work eventually took its toll on the American Bluegrass Express, and inspired by the success of bluegrasser-turned-country-star Ricky Skaggs, Raybon headed for Nashville in 1984. The next year he scored a publishing deal and joined the band that would eventually become Shenandoah.
      Shenandoah framed Raybon's smoky voice with bluegrass-tinged harmonies and crisp contemporary instrumentation on hits like “The Church On Cumberland Road.” Named the Academy of Country Music's Top Vocal Group for 1990, they helped pave the way to prominence for bluegrass diva Alison Krauss, as their duet, “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart,” hit the Top 10 in late 1994 and earned Country Music Association and Grammy awards the following year. 
      Despite the group's success, Raybon's growing spirituality and creative restlessness eventually led him to branch out. Over the next several years, he recorded an album with his brother Tim, a solo country CD and several gospel albums. 
      "When Tim and I were doing 'Butterfly Kisses,' he said, 'Marty, there are some things going on with bluegrass right now, you need to do a bluegrass album,’” Raybon said. “And after thinking about it, I decided I was going to do it." 
      In April 2002, a team of bluegrass musicians – banjo man David Talbot, guitar and mandolin virtuoso Bryan Sutton, Donnie Allen on rhythm guitar, fiddler Shad Cobb, Rob Ickes on Dobro, and bassist Terry Smith – recorded the tracks for “Full Circle” with singers Paul Brewster and Tim Raybon nailing down the harmonies.
      With the release of “Full Circle,” Raybon has turned his attention to completing his return to the bluegrass community through personal appearances.  
      For additional information about his Columbia 2004 concert, contact the theater at 985-543-4366 or visit www.selu.edu/columbia.