Shenandoah Biography

The founding members of Shenandoah, formed in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, USA, in the mid-80s were Marty Raybon (8 December 1959, Greenville, Alabama, USA; lead vocals), who started out as a bricklayer before joining American Bluegrass Express, where he stayed for nine years before leaving to join Heartbreak Mountain, Jim Seales (b. 20 March 1954, Hamilton, Alabama, USA; guitar), Ralph Ezell (b. 26 June 1953, Union, Mississippi, USA; bass), Stan Thorn (b. 3 March 1959, Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA; keyboards) and Mike McGuire (b. 28 December 1958, Hamilton, Alabama, USA; drums). They were first known as the MGM Band, but after the songwriter Robert Byrne recommended them to the producer Rick Hall (of Fame Studios) and they signed with Columbia Records, they were renamed Shenandoah. Their self-titled 1987 debut included the Top 10 hit ‘She Doesn’t Cry Anymore’, the first recording to introduce Raybon’s powerful singing voice to a wider audience. They made their major commercial breakthrough in the mid-90s. Much of this success was owing to their collaboration with bluegrass artist Alison Krauss, ‘Somewhere In The Vicinity Of The Heart’, which helped make Krauss a major country star. It was included on their Don Cook -produced debut for Capitol Records’ Nashville division, In The Vicinity Of The Heart, which saw them receive several nominations from the Country Music Association Awards committee. Previously the group had suffered numerous trials and tribulations, including bankruptcy (caused by a 1989 law suit over the use of their name), record label changes and the loss of long-standing member Stan Thorn. They filed for bankruptcy but re-emerged with RCA Records in 1992 with two strong albums, Long Time Comin’ and Under The Kudzu, which spawned a number of hits, notably ‘Rock My Baby’, ‘Hey Mister (I Need This Job)’, ‘Leavin’s Been A Long Time Comin’’, ‘Janie Baker’s Love Slave’ and ‘I Want To be Loved Like That’. Thorn left to pursue a career in jazz and in 1994 they topped the country chart with ‘If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too)’. Following the release of the successful In The Vicinity Of The Heart, the group disintegrated further. Ezell was replaced by Rocky Thacker, and Raybon released a solo album for gospel label Sparrow Records before joining up with his brother Tim for The Raybon Brothers, released by MCA in 1997. Now And Then included lacklustre new recordings of their Columbia material.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.