When Mike McGuire and guitarist Jim Seales started a band in the clubs of Muscle Shoals, Ala., in 1984, they never dreamed their dedication to great music would lead them down such a long and illustrious road.
By late 1985, they had added bassist Ralph Ezell, keyboardist Stan Thorn and a struggling bluegrass singer named Marty Raybon to the mix, and were confident they had the winning combination they’d been looking for. Thus the Grammy Award-winning group Shenandoah was born.
Shenandoah will help Kingsport celebrate Independence Day when the band takes the stage July 4 during the Twilight Alive concert on Broad Street. Show time is 7 p.m.
The event is free, however donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted. Bring your lawn chair, but no pets or coolers.
Within its first two years on the CBS label, Shenandoah had scored five number one songs, including “Church on Cumberland Road,” “Two Dozen Roses,” “Sunday in the South” and “Next to You Next to Me.”
But after a lengthy legal battle over the name “Shenandoah,” the band moved to RCA Records. In no time at all, its members scored four more number one singles, including “If Bubba Can Dance, I Can Too,” written by drummer Mike McGuire and lead singer Marty Raybon, and the heartfelt “I Want to Be Loved Like That.”
Also during this time, their friendship with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman lead to his video debut as “Cowboy Joe” in the classic Shenandoah song “Her Leaving’s Been A Long Time Coming,” also written by McGuire.
In 1996, the band was lured by music legend Jimmy Bowen to Capitol Records, and it was during this period that Shenandoah’s live shows took on an exciting new dimension and the band produced more chart toppers like “Janie Baker’s Love Slave” and the Grammy Award-winning “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart,” a duet with Alison Krauss.
Some acts would have played it safe after establishing themselves as a successful country “supergroup” and winning a CMA Award, TNN and ACM Group of the Year accolades and the much-coveted Grammy Award, but not the guys of Shenandoah.
With 13 number one songs, countless chart hits, gold albums and a reputation as one of the hardest working touring acts in the business to its credit, the band is still evolving, taking chances and striving for the musical perfection and performances that have made them radio and concert favorites around the country.
“It’s funny how a song can take you back to a place and time in your past,” McGuire said. “Our fans are the best in the world and still come out to sing along and revisit all the wonderful times we’ve had through our music. If it weren’t for our fans, we’d have never had such a memorable career.”
For more information about the band, visit www.shenandoahband.com.