Collin Raye was figured out his granddaughter wasn’t going come die. Born watch healthy in 2000, Haley Marie Bell hit every one of the milestones for a typically occurring child because that the an initial two years of she life.

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Then the toddler didn’t want to stand. She satellite in a W position, her bottom and also her knees on the ground with her feet splayed the end behind her. Haley’s speech didn’t progress. As soon as the family took she to the doctor, they were told there was no reason for concern.

At 4 year old, she was still regressing. End a duration of time, the child shed her ability to stand. She couldn’t relocate her hands. She couldn’t speak or swallow and had to be fed by a tube.

By 2004, Raye had charted 16 No. 1 country songs. He was accustomed to getting what that wanted and also being able to fix any kind of problem. That was sure that through his resources and also connections he might find the right combination of world and contemporary medicine to cure the child.



Haley died of a regressive neurological problem in 2010. She was 9 year old and had lived with Raye her whole life.

Raye wrote around Haley in his song “She’s through Me.” and she inspired Raye and his daughter Britanny Wray, Haley"s mother, to create his song “Undefeated." 

Both space featured as bonus monitor on his new album “Collin Raye — 25 Years, 25 Hits.” The collection additionally includes his 1991 breakthrough hit, “Love, Me,” and singalong chart-toppers “My sort of Girl” (1994) and also “I have the right to Still feel You” (1998). The album was developed to commemorate Raye’s 25th anniversary in nation music, i m sorry he"ll celebrate in addition to his 58th birthday at Nashville’s City Winery on Aug. 22.

However, he most likely won’t song “She’s through Me.” It hurts too much.


An MRI was reserved so doctors might compare the brand-new image come the one taken five days earlier when she to be admitted to the Dallas hospital. The photos revealed her mind had deteriorated through 50 percent.

“I remember ideal there was the first time in my life that I had really offered up ~ above something,” Raye said. “I don’t provide up. Ns don’t quit. But then ns thought, ‘OK, I’ve gained nothing.’ ”


The next day, with her mother in bed beside her, Raye watched as his nephew took her last breath.

The family members made the necessary funeral preparations. After ~ the service, Raye hung ago in the mausoleum when the remainder of his family retreated to wait cars. He wanted to check out his granddaughter one critical time. He kissed her challenge and her hands and also loved on she as lot as that could due to the fact that he knew when the vault door closed that would never ever see she again. 

“There’s something for this reason final around that,” the said. “It struggle me yes, really hard. However the good news is us did endure it.”

About one main later, Raye was back on phase playing a concert in Indianapolis. That wasn’t sure if he might do it yet he claimed he "turned the button" and made everybody smile. 

“I thought, ‘OK, I have the right to still perform my job,’ ” he remembered. “You can not just examine out once something prefer that happens. Friend gotta keep pushing forward.”


Inspiring artists who have followed 

Raye’s career has actually sustained him for 25 years. And also his songs have inspired today’s generation of country music singers.

“Get come You” singer Michael Ray claimed Collin Raye was his mother’s favorite. The 30-year-old remembers listening to “Love, Me” in the automobile every morning when his mother drove him come school. Now he dram the soft ballad in sound check.

“His voice and also style never ever wavered,” beam said. “I dropped in love with the letter in ‘Love, Me.’ that paints the perfect picture, and also that’s what nation music is in the song. No matter where you are or how many years walk by from hearing it, you can go straight back to it and that moment."

Written by Skip Ewing and Max T. Barnes and also released in 1991, the song provides a love letter the song"s fictional grandmother created to his grandfather and pinned come a tree in 1923 as the basis for your lifelong love.

The song’s chorus and the letter’s words are the same: "If you gain there before I do, don"t give up top top me/ I"ll accomplish you when my chores space through/ i don"t know exactly how long I"ll be/ yet I"m not gonna let you down, darling wait and also see/ and between now and also then, "til I see you again/ I"ll be love you/ Love, me."


Until the success the “Love, Me,” Raye to be a singer simply trying to break through like many others in Nashville, but his voice was different. That been to sing in bars and also casinos for an ext than a decade before his manager Steve Cox helped him get a document deal in Nashville.

“He has the innate capacity to it is in a performer,” Cox said. “He is a no-fear type of guy. When Collin sings, that is believable. Some artists are pretty. Some artists are good. And there’s good singers, but not everyone knows just how to sing. And also he does.”

A lengthy string the hits

After year of both singing favor Merle Haggard and also screaming rod Stewart lyrics on the bar and also casino circuit, Raye thought he was a baritone. As soon as Raye obtained to Nashville, producer Jerry Fuller quickly identified Raye was a tenor and isolated contemporary attributes in his voice. Those characteristics set him except artists consisting of Mark Chesnutt and also Doug Stone, who ruled nation radio in ~ the time, and continue to do Raye among the most quickly identifiable voices in the genre.

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His first single, "All I deserve to Be (is a Sweet Memory)," to be a peak 30 hit, yet it to be “Love, Me” that started the chain of 16 No. 1 songs and 24 top 10 hits. 

Raye re-recorded those song — 25 hits and three bonus tracks — for his 25th-anniversary album due to the fact that he believes he is a far better singer now than he to be two decades ago. Making it through the lose of Haley improved his voice.


“My job was my greatest therapy after Haley died,” he said. “You live with stuff choose that and you do sing better. Genuine singing is emotion, and also fans have the right to hear that in her voice. I think no one gets the end free. Everyone is walk to gain some overcome to bear, and also I think it is what renders you a far better person.”

Reach Cindy watts at ciwatts
allisonbrookephotography.com or 615-664-2227 and on Twitter
CindyNWatts. 

If friend go

What: Collin Raye in concertWhere: City Winery, 609 Lafayette St. in NashvilleWhen: 8 p.m. Aug. 22Tickets: $35-$45 at https://citywinery.com/nashville