When rising country singer Michael Ray made his first exploratory trip to Nashville, he got a life-changing piece of advice from an industry insider—Go home.
“He said, ‘Don’t move. The way the music industry’s going…you’re not going to be able to get a record deal just doing a showcase anymore. You’ve got to bring something to the table,’” Ray said. “He said, ‘I want to you to go back to Florida, grab a band and become the biggest you can be in Florida on your own, and then I want you to come back.’
Turns out it was the best thing Ray ever did. He built a rowdy fan base back home and returned to Nashville three years later.
Ray continued the journey from tiny Eustis, Florida, to the big time with the release of his first single “Kiss You In The Morning,” which went #1 in just 24 weeks. Ray’s followup single, “Real Men Love Jesus,” is currently climbing the charts and touching hearts at the same time.
Raised in rural central Florida an hour from Orlando, Ray grew up hunting alligators and fishing for tarpon at the end of white sand dirt roads. The child of a family full of musicians, he began his professional career before he was a teenager, graduated to the bar scene as soon as he could drive and hasn’t let up on the pedal since.
When he decided it was time to move to Nashville, the work Ray had put in began to pay off quickly. He met manager Tony Conway, a 40 year industry veteran and owner/CEO at Ontourage Management. Conway helped guide Ray to a publishing contract with Warner/Chappell Music and a record deal with Atlantic Records / Warner Music Nashville.
Since the release of his first two singles, Ray continues to grow his following, touring with Chase Rice, Sam Hunt, and Kip Moore, and kicking off 2016 touring with Brantley Gilbert.