When Marty Raybon released his latest bluegrass album, "The Back Forty," he told Billboard that one of his goals was to lift his career to a place where he could be a nominee for the International Bluegrass Music Association awards. This year, got his wish.
When the nominations were announced for this year's award show, the former lead singer of Shenandoah saw his transition into Bluegrass get a stamp of approval with a pair of nominations. "It was very exciting," he told Billboard. "Some people asked me if I wished I had been nominated for anything else, and I said 'Well, yes. Entertainer of the Year. Album of the Year, Fiddle Player of the Year, or Banjo Player of the Year – but I don't play the fiddle or the banjo," he said with a laugh.
Raybon was nominated in the Male Vocalist of the Year category – which humbled him very much. "People say it all the time, but I am just honored to be nominated. There's Jamie Dailey, Russell Moore, Tim O'Brien, and Junior Sisk. I'm glad to be in the running. I believe this album is the best project I've ever been a part of."
Raybon's other nomination was for Gospel Recorded Event for "Beulah Land." It's a song that has been with the singer for many years. "When I was with Shenandoah, we recorded that for the Amazing Grace – Country Salutes Gospel album. The producer gave us a list of tunes, and said 'We want you to pick which one you want to do" I asked if we had to necessarily do one that was on the list. He said no, and I said 'There's a song that I've been singing around Churches called 'Beulah Land.' They hadn't heard it. I asked if I could sing it for them, and they said 'Well, do that one.' We did it on the road, which was strange because we were getting a lot of requests for it among our country material. Then, when I got into bluegrass music, I wanted to do it because I knew so many people liked it." Raybon is extremely hopeful for a win in that category. "I would give anything in the world for that to win. It truly would mean something to me."
Raybon feels that the nominations are a validation of his work, and also gives he and his team some things to talk about to media while promoting his music. "As much as you can make a mark and wide as you can paint a stroke on the canvas, you want to do everything as you can to make it as big as it could be. That serves as bragging rights for a PR guy like Don Murry Grubbs, who can go to different media outlets and hock our wares – to get us out in front of more people."
Raybon will be on the road a'plenty this fall, but he will have one eye planted on the progress of his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide. "The Alabama tradition is rich when it comes to football. Our whole family loves it. I am a Crimson Tide fan from the word go," he says proudly.