was born October 8, 1944, in Eugene, OR. She first began singing with a high-school rock group, but after the band called it quits, she auditioned for a local country station. Not only did she begin performing on the radio, she also landed work as a disc jockey, eventually becoming the host of a Portland TV program called Hoedown.
It was at one of Raye
's performances at an area nightclub where she met Jack McFadden, Owens
' manager. McFadden was so impressed with her vocal talents that he persuaded Owens
to fly her to his home in Bakersfield, CA, for an audition. Owens
immediately offered Raye
a slot on an upcoming tour, and in 1969, she cut her first record, "Maybe If I Close My Eyes (It'll Go Away)." Her next record, a cover of Jackie DeShannon
's pop smash "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," was also her first Top 30 hit. At about the same time, she began a nine-year stint as a featured performer on the program Hee Haw.Raye
issued her first solo LP, One Night Stand
, in 1970; the single "Willy Jones" became her first Top Ten hit, lending its name to the title of her follow-up album the next year. Also in 1970, she released two duet records with Owens
, We're Gonna Get Together
and The Great White Horse
. Her biggest year as a solo artist came in 1971, when she issued three consecutive Top Ten hits -- "L.A. International Airport," "Pitty, Pitty, Patter," and "(I've Got A) Happy Heart." The title track of 1972's My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own
also reached the Top Ten.
After hitting number nine in 1974 with "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Dog Like That" and scoring a success with Owens
on a cover of the Mickey & Sylvia
classic "Love Is Strange," Raye
's hitmaking days were largely over; after issuing the 1976 LP Honey, Toast and Sunshine, she left Owens
' tutelage to release a self-titled album in 1977. A year later, she retired in order to raise her six kids and returned to college to pursue a degree in psychology. In 1985, she came out of exile to release the album Susan Raye: There and Back, which generated the minor hit single "I Just Can't Take the Leaving Anymore."