michael-ray

Michael Ray… Country’s “Next” Big Star?

  By John Lindsay - If I were in my lab trying to create the “Next” big thing in country music, it just might come out looking and sounding like Michael Ray.  As I sit here typing, he owns the #1 single in the country and is ready for the release of his debut album tomorrow.  Rock star good looks, energy, passion, songwriting chops (Michael co-wrote “Run Away with You” with John Rich), and a truly authentic sound all in one.  He is that rare mix, authentic country enough to satisfy traditionalists combined with a rock and roll energy that…

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Summary : He is that rare mix, authentic country enough to satisfy traditionalists combined with a rock and roll energy that fits right into today’s mainstream country radio.

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By John Lindsay –

If I were in my lab trying to create the “Next” big thing in country music, it just might come out looking and sounding like Michael Ray.  As I sit here typing, he owns the #1 single in the country and is ready for the release of his debut album tomorrow.  Rock star good looks, energy, passion, songwriting chops (Michael co-wrote “Run Away with You” with John Rich), and a truly authentic sound all in one.  He is that rare mix, authentic country enough to satisfy traditionalists combined with a rock and roll energy that fits right into today’s mainstream country radio.

The pride of Eustis, Florida (about an hour north of the Mouse as we say) Michael grew up fishing, hunting, riding in airboats, and playing music with his family band in central Florida Moose Lodges, VFW’s, and community centers..  That upbringing is greatly represented in the video to his debut single “Kiss You in the Morning.”  If you notice the flag on the airboat in the video it’s a tribute to his late grandfather Amos who instilled that love of traditional country in Michael.   Mix that influence  with the sights and sounds of Garth Brooks, Gary Allan and the rock, rap, and punk of his generation and you have the sound that has Michael cruising down the road of his dreams.

john_and_michael_ray

The author John Lindsay and Michael Ray at Roundup Country Western Nightclub located in Davie, FL. Click for larger image

I first heard of Michael in 2012, when friends started telling me  about this kid in central Florida.  It was about a month later that another friend brought me a CD of his music and I knew they were on to something.  Part of the back story and really cool thing about Michael’s rise, to me an old school radio guy, is how it really got going.  He was playing a show opening for Jason Michael Carroll and after the set a young lady took one of those CD’s.  The next day he got a phone call from a friend who told him he was on the radio.  That young lady was Sara Michaels of 97 Country, WPCV, and she took the CD and just started playing it.  That’s how old school radio worked and that’s how we made hits, but I digress.  The next time he went back to that club he was the headliner and it was sold out.  He and his band toured the southeast extensively before finally making the move to Nashville.   In the last couple of years I’ve watched him grow from clubs to opening tours for Alabama, Chase Rice, Sam Hunt, and this fall he will go out with Kip Moore.  He and his band love to play and it shows every time he steps on a stage.

There is one particular stage that really shows why I think he is the model for future “country” stars.  It was back in May a few days before the last time I saw him, when he achieved a dream he and his grandfather had.  Michael made his debut in the sacred “Circle” on the stage of the Grand Old Opry.  With his grandfathers guitar, he stepped in and paid tribute by singing the Randy Travis classic “On The Other Hand. “  He has played the Opry a few more times since that day each time showing his respect for the Opry and his grandfather with another classic cover in his set.  It is that humble respect of the traditions of country in his sound and attitude that really sets him apart to me.

So here we are, the long steady rise of “Kiss You In The Morning” has finally culminated in a #1 single, and his debut CD has just come out.  Songs like “Real Men Love Jesus” (just played on the Opry a couple of days ago actually), “Wish I Was Here”, and “Everything in Between” stand out along with radio ready “Think A Little Less”, “Drivin’ All Night”, and “Another Girl.”  Also included is his take of “Run Away with You.” The world finally gets to know what we in Florida have known for awhile.  Michael Ray is not just the “Next,” he is the real deal folks.  Don’t take my word for it, listen and find out for yourself why this gets a healthy 4 stars!

About John Lindsay

John is one of our music reviewers here at Everything Country. He has been a DJ in radio, private events, and nightclubs since 1983 with a specialization in country music, dance, and nightclub management.