Ray Stevens

When it comes to country comedy, Ray Stevens is one of the giants of the sub-genre. The veteran entertainer has just launched a new chapter in that legendary career with the debut of "Ray-ality TV." The show is a crucial piece of the relaunch of The Nashville Network cable channel. Stevens says that once the decision to bring TNN back to life was made, his phone rang.

"When it was reactivated, they asked me to host a show," he told Billboard. Stevens has had quite the history with the camera. "I have been making videos now for several years, so I thought  I could put a show together. Reality television seems to be pretty big, so I could call it my reality, which would be 'Ray-ality.' We would put together all this footage I've shot over the years together, and link it all with a theme. One show would be about chickens, for instance, so we would take everything that had to do with that theme, and put it all together. We took a lot of old stuff, and shot some new footage as well."

The show debuted in November, and Stevens hopes it grows along with the channel. "We finished 26 episodes.  I understand, at the end of this month, TNN will be adding more cities and viewers. That's six months worth, then they will re-run them."

The show airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET (with a re-broadcast on Wednesday afternoon).

Stevens says that the new footage is balanced with some archival video from the past twenty years.

"I made a movie in 1994, and have done several TV pilots, made a lot of videos, and filmed a lot of live shows, and lately, I've been making videos and putting them on YouTube with a political bent to them. We assembled all this, looked at it all, and allocated different things to different shows. It's worked out well. I think it's interesting. It's a new concept, as far as I know."

Stevens is a bit of a pioneer in the world of music video, with a successful line of releases in the early to mid 90s. "I had a video that I sold on cable channels through an 800 number. It was called 'Comedy Video Classics.' I took eight of my comedy songs, and shot a video for them. We sold millions of them. The record companies, up to that point, considered video as a tool to sell their audio product. They didn't think you could sell videos. With the advent of the VHS player, people wanted something to play in them."

Creating new music is still something the singer is passionate about. "I'm in the studio constantly," he says, adding that he is in the process of starting a new Gospel album.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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