Country group Shenandoah has built a career on hit songs including "Two Dozen Roses," "Church on Cumberland Road" and "Next to You Next to Me." In 2022, the band is celebrating its three-and-a-half decades in country music with a sweeping months-long "35th Anniversary Tour" that will carry the group from Florida to Oregon over nine months and all the places in between.
"To believe we'd still be in the music business, as ever-changing as it is, would only come to me in one form: the country music fan base," Shenandoah singer Marty Raybon said in a statement. "It's a wonderful thing to experience while looking out over an audience where the age span is so wide. It is most humbling."
Raybon said the band is already on the road, but he's anxious to kick off their run to 35 years in February. In the meantime, he's having fun reminiscing about the group's early days in the genre when they were opening for Merle Haggard, managing their nerves ahead of live television shows and making their Grand Ole Opry debut.
"I'll be honest with you," Raybon said. "There's been a bunch of good memories."
The singer stepped away from the band he helped build for 17 years. But since Shenandoah reunited in 2014, Raybon has dedicated himself to making the group successful.
"I don't believe we're done yet," Raybon said. "I believe from the sovereignty of the Lord something is going to happen. We're going back into the studio, and I truly believe it's going to be a trendsetter. No one is talking about quitting. We want to see how big of a bang we can make, and we've got the goods to do it."
Marty Raybon's Top 5 Memories with Shenandoah:
1. Opening for Merle Haggard and George Jones
Raybon remembers he had a ringside seat to the inner working of their camps. Jones never did a soundcheck, he said. But Haggard did, and he recalled that sometimes Haggard just wanted to get out there and play.
"You could tell he felt good those days," Raybon said. "And I loved the conversations."
Raybon said their talks were never about music and recalled that one time he and Haggard chatted for more than 30 minutes about the "dangers of processed sugar."
"He brought it up," Raybon said. "I'm just sitting there listening to him, thinking, 'Man, he's actually read up on this stuff.'"
2. Shenandoah's first appearance on The Grand Ole Opry and "Nashville Now."
"That was big before we got into the business," Raybon said of "Nashville Now." "That was about as nerve-wracking as it was doing the Opry for the first time. That was on live TV. You mess up on here, and this ain't a studio cut. It's for keeps. That tends to make me a little nervous, anyway. It's driven because you're wanting to do really good."
3. Recording "Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart" with Alison Krauss
"I love Alison," Raybon said. "When I left bluegrass music, Alison wasn't on the scene yet. She certainly was shortly after. The opportunity to do the duet with her and then winning the Grammy, you know, those are certainly highlights. I look back and think, 'Goodness sakes alive, that's really been awfully nice.'"
4. Watching "Two Dozen Roses" connect with audiences
Shenandoah had a Top 10 song with "She Doesn't Cry Anymore," and Raybon knew what that looked like. The band's success still didn't feel real. When "Mama Knows" hit No. 4, he knew the band's career was going in the right direction. "Church on Cumberland Road" was a No. 1 for a record-setting two weeks, a first for a self-contained band. But "Two Dozen Roses" was different, Raybon said.
"People would sing, 'Get me to the church on the Cumberland Road' at the end," said the singer. "But with 'Two Dozen Roses,' they're starting off singing, 'I brought flowers your door last night.' They're singing all of it. Everybody's talking about 'Church on Cumberland Road' being an impact record. It didn't get this kind of an impact."
5. Succeeding in country music after 17 years apart
"I believe wholeheartedly we've got several more major market records that we haven't cut yet," Raybon said. "If I didn't, we'd be talking about how we're going to quit. I'm 62 years old. I don't know how you're supposed to feel at 62, but we've done everything but slow down. In the whole life of Shenandoah, we did more dates last year than we've ever done."
Shenandoah released its "Every Road" album in late 2020, and the 10-song collection includes duets with country music's biggest stars, including Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley and Cody Johnson.
"The Bible plainly tells you that without a vision, people perish," Raybon said. "We're willing to do anything you ask of us. If you're out there doing it, do it for the right reasons. We get hired to actually entertain."
For more information on dates, venues and tickets, visit shenandoahband.com.
2022 Concert Schedule for Shenandoah "35th Anniversary Tour":
Feb 11 - Sulpher Springs, TX
Feb 12 - Hinton, OK
Feb 18 - Spring, TX
Mar 12 - Ft. Meyers, FL
Mar 13 - Vero Beach, FL
Mar 24 - Nashville, TN
Mar 25 - Shipshewana, IN
Apr 6 - Green Cove Springs, FL
Apr 30 - Indio, CA
May 13 - Kenney, TX
May 14 - Gail, TX
May 20 - Pigeon Forge, TN
May 21 - Louisa, KY
Jun 4 - Ft. Worth, TX
Jun 11 - Nevada, MO
Jun 14 - Eminence, MO
Jun 16 - Cedar Park, TX
Jun 17 - Stockdale, TX
Jul 3 - Alvarado, TX
Jul 4 - Albuquerque, NM
Jul 9 - New Salem, ND
Jul 22 - McCook, NE
Jul 23 - Hannibal, MO
Jul 29 - Cookeville, TN
Jul 30 - Parkersburg, WV
Aug 5 - McMinnville, OR
Aug 7 - Junction City, OR
Aug 13 - Hot Springs, AR
Aug 26 - Gray, TN
Aug 30 - Hamilton, MT
Sep 17 - Cowan, TN
Sep 24 - Alto, NM
Oct 1 - Corpus Christi, TX
Oct 7 - Gainsville, TN
Oct 15 - Lebanon, OH