Song:The Church on Cumberland Road
The Church on Cumberland Road was the first of five number one country music hits for Shenandoah in 1989. They were an uneasy mix of country, pop and bluegrass. Legal problems killed them in the mid-90s but a version of the band is still around. They formed in 1985 at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL. Bassist Ralph Ezell, pianist Stan Thorn, guitarist Jim Seales and drummer Mike McGuire were session musicians and they decided to form a band with singer Marty Rayborn. He started out singing in his dad's bluegrass band when he was a child. They asked FAME Studios owner Rick Hall and songwriter producer Robert Byrne for help and Byrne produced a demo that got them a deal with Columbia Records. They wanted to call themselves The MGM Band but couldn't for legal reasons. Columbia suggested Shenandoah. She Doesn't Cry Anymore was their first top ten hit from their 1987 debut album Shenandoah. The album was produced by Byrne and Hall. But Shenandoah really took off with their 1989 CD The Road Not Taken. The Church on Cumberland Road was the second single from the album and their first number one country hit. Sunday in the South and Two Dozen Roses were also number one country hits from that album. The Church on Cumberland Road was written by veteran songwriters Bob DiPiero, John Scott Sherrill and Dennis Robbins of the short lived country group Billy Hill. Shenandoah's 1990 album Extra Mile did just as well. Next To You, Next To Me was a number one country hit. Shenandoah won the 1991 Academy of Country Music Vocal Group of the Year award. But then Shenandoah was sued several times over the band name. They asked Columbia to help them with settlement costs. They refused and Shenandoah declared bankruptcy and Columbia dropped them. They signed with RCA and had their final number one country hit with If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too). Then they moved to Capitol's Liberty label for the 1994 album Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart. They were still successful but not as successful as when they were on Columbia. You can get all their hits on this Capitol budget comp. Marty Raybon recorded a gospel CD for Sparrow Records in 1995. Ezell and Thorn left Shenandoah in 1995 with Rocky Thacker joining as the new bassist. Capitol talked Shenandoah into re-recording some of their old singles for the 1996 CD Now and Then. That's always a bad idea. Then Raybon left Shenandoah and formed The Raybon Brothers with his brother Tim. They recorded one album for MCA and since then, Raybon has recorded gospel. Shenandoah split up and then reformed in 2000 with a new lead singer. Ralph Ezell rejoined but he died in 2007. McGuire and Seales still lead Shenandoah today. They last recorded in 2006. Here's the video for The Church on Cumberland Road by Shenandoah.