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The rhythm of the road and the song of the soul

Ray Collins Sr. was writing songs long before he penned any of the gospel numbers that appear on his most recent recording.

In the mid-80s he wrote songs about truck driving, including one titled “Going the Wrong Way” in 1984.

“I wrote it going across Texas in a truck,” he said.

Obviously, the theme was fitting. A native of Cullman, Collins worked as a truck broker for a Birmingham-based company until he was offered a job in Montgomery and moved here.

Collins also sings his own songs and plays rhythm guitar. He picked up his first guitar when he was 15, and his older brother would write lyrics while he put them to music. Now at 56, Collins still loves country music but has a slightly different reason for writing.

“I wrote them in jail,” he says of the songs that appear on an EP recorded at The Ark studio in Alabaster. “I turned around. I got to reading the Bible, and I woke up about 5 o’clock one morning and wrote two songs.”

One of those songs was “I Saw My Savior,” which appears on a new compilation by HillTop Records of Hollywood, Calif. This particular version is not sung by Collins but appears to his credit.

The song is about a Texas man on death row who was sentenced to die in the electric chair. The man had apologized to his victims and said he had accepted Christ and was ready to die.

Collins’ songs are in the vein of country-gospel and are what he describes as “simple songs with a lot of meaning.”

“It just helps you get the way you feel out there,” he says.

The compilation album, entitled “From Heaven to Earth,” and companion sheet music is available from www.hilltoprecords.com. Anyone interested in copies of the EP may reach Collins at 755-1030.

Collins lives in Clanton with his wife, Wanda. They have a 12-year-old son, Hunter, and 9-year-old daughter, Stephanie. He also has three adult children from a previous marriage.