Collin Raye on the Effect His Late Granddaughter Had on His Music
Collin Raye celebrates his 25 years as a recording artist this year with his latest release, Collin Raye — 25 Years, 25 Hits. The album is a re-recording of his many hits like “Love, Me,” “My Kind of Girl” and “I Can Still Feel You,” as well as includes two bonus songs written with his late granddaughter, Haley Marie Bell, in mind.
In an interview with the Tennessean, Raye opens up about his granddaughter's health problems. According to the publication, Haley died at the age of 9 due to a regressive neurological condition in 2010. She lived with Raye her entire life and was the inspiration behind his songs "She's With Me" and "Undefeated," both available on the new release.
“I pulled out every stop," the singer says of never giving up on his granddaughter's health fight. "Sometimes God says, ‘No, you’re not fixing squat. I’m the one that has been fixing things for you, and it’s time for you to stand down a little bit.’”
Raye's family found a home health care nurse who helped care for Haley alongside her mother. Each day, the girl struggled with respiratory issues, and her throat had to be suctioned every few minutes, Raye explains. One night while Raye was playing a show in Kansas City he got the unthinkable news: His granddaughter had stopped breathing and she was unable to be resuscitated. She was flown to a children's hospital in Dallas, but never regained consciousness.
“I remember right there was the first time in my life that I had really given up on something,” Raye said. “I don’t give up. I don’t quit. But then I thought, ‘OK, I’ve got nothing.’”
Haley died the following day, with Raye watching as she took her last breath. Although it was a heartbreaking moment, the singer says his granddaughter's battle and death has helped him sing better.
“My job was my biggest therapy after Haley died,” he said. “You live through stuff like that, and you do sing better. Real singing is emotion, and fans can hear that in your voice. I think nobody gets out free. Everybody is going to get some cross to bear, and I think that’s what makes you a better person.”