We hope you enjoy this feature on Marty written by Dan Duncan.
Marty Raybon is a multi-talented singer, songwriter and musician who is best known as the the distinctive lead voice on a long string of hit songs by the Country music super-group, Shenandoah. His career, which has spanned almost three decades, has found his songs topping the charts in Country, Bluegrass, and Country Gospel music.
Born and raised in Sanford, Florida, Raybon moved to Nashville in 1984 to pursue his dream of a career as a recording artist. There he joined a band and worked to develop his songwriting skills. He sang demos in the recording studios of Nashville to earn additional income.
Raybon accepted a job in Muscle Shoals Alabama with a group of buddies who would eventually become the band Shenandoah. Robert Byrnes and Tommy Brassfield had been commissioned by a major record company to do a nationwide talent search for artists who had potential to be developed into a major act. After searching across the nation, they “discovered” Marty and his group within two miles of Fame Recording Studio, in Muscle Shoals. Their recording of spec-records in Fame Studio produced such hits as “Two Dozen Roses”, “Mama Knows”, “The Church on Cumberland Road”, “Next to You, Next to Me,” and so many more.
The rewards of success are many, but they are certainly not without pitfalls. As in so many cases, the lifestyle of stardom led Marty to addiction to alcohol and drugs. Things moved from bad to worse when the group began to face lawsuits for infringement for the use of the name Shenandoah. At least five other groups could produce evidence that they had the legal right to use the name. Neither the record company, the recording studio, or the production company had done a trademark search for the right to use that name. Lawsuits came fast and furious, which eventually resulted in the group filing a Chapter 7. They literally paid out millions of dollars to satisfy the claims filed against them.
The group received no help from their recording studio, record company, or management company. In fact, all of those organizations also filed lawsuits against Shenandoah. It was very humbling and humiliating. The group continued working hard to meet all their financial obligations, until eventually everything was paid.
Substance abuse continued to worsen for Raybon. One evening after coming in off the road, Marty accepted another party invitation. They hit a nightclub where the drinking was more than excessive. Raybon related that he woke up on a couch to discover he had been gone for four days. Returning home, he retreated to his basement where he had stashed additional alcoholic beverages.
God had a plan for Marty Raybon’s life that day. Raybon had been raised right, but he had not been doing right. God began tugging on his heart. Sick of his lifestyle and sick of his problems, Raybon got serious with himself and serious with God. In his drunkenness and confusion, Raybon asked himself: “If I died, would I go to Heaven?” Ashamed of himself and ashamed of what he had become, he cried out to God: “I’m out of control! Help me”!
That day, the basement of his home became “Holy Ground” for Marty Raybon. He audibly talked face to face with God, and made everything right! Right then and there, he gave his heart and life to God.
“I stayed in the basement all day,” says Raybon. “I poured out the liquor. I hunted it out from everywhere I had hidden it, and poured it out. I promised God: ‘If you’ll fix me, I’ll serve you.’ I didn’t hear any bells and whistles, but I was changed that day! I felt like I wasn’t dirty anymore”.
Raybon’s wife Melanie was a believer who was living with a pagan husband. At the end of the day, Marty joined her upstairs and asked her this question: “Do you have an Easter dress? I gave my heart to the Lord today. I’m saved! It’s different. I’ll be home from my next tour by Easter Sunday. We’re going to church.”
He began introducing others to Jesus. He introduced other band members and their families to the Lord. Raybon figured if God could fix him, He could do it for anybody! The heartbeat of His message is, “No matter how far down you’ve gone, God can reach you.”
Raybon left Shenandoah in 1997 to fulfill God’s call to spread the Gospel through his music. To date, he has recorded five country gospel albums, which have resulted in a lot of number one songs and a long list of awards. As of this writing, Raybon’s recording of “Beulah Land” is currently number one in the country gospel chart. He has been nominated for awards in four categories by the International Country Gospel Music Association (I.C.G.M.A.) in their August Award show. His next bluegrass album will be Gospel Bluegrass.
While Marty Raybon has enjoyed great success in the music field, his priorities remain solidly anchored in his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A person cannot be around Raybon very long before you discover that he loves to share Jesus with those with whom he comes into contact.
No matter where you meet Marty Raybon, he is first and foremost, a Christian. He is very sincere, and always sensitive to the spiritual needs of those he meets. Marty Raybon is the Real Deal!
For more information on Marty Raybon visit http://martyraybon.com/online/
By Dan Duncan
First published by SGN Scoops magazine in August 2014.
For the latest edition of SGN Scoops magazine and more news in Gospel music, visit the SGN Scoops mainpage.
Along with Mary Raybon, the CCE is happy to present Chuck Day, T Graham Brown, Chris Golden, Jim Sheldon, Tommy Brandt, Jan Harbuck, Ava Kasich, Tina Wakefield, Jerry Branscom, Sharron Kay King, and many more.
The Christian Country Expo will open at the Smoky Mountain Resorts on Monday, August 24. Doors open at the Center at 5:00 pm on Monday night and again on Tuesday morning at 9:30 am for music showcases. The main theme of the event is: “Salute To Our Heroes,” and CCE invites all servicemen and first responders to come out and be recognized.
For more information on lodging or tickets, please email Rob Patz of Coastal Media at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360 933 0741.
Visit the Christian Country Expo on Facebook or online at http://www.ChristiancountryExpo. com