Michael Ray comes by his love of music honestly. The 30-year-old can trace his love of music, and specifically country music, back to his father and grandfather, who unintentionally paved the way for the career he enjoys today, becoming the muse for his latest album, Amos.
"Amos is my grandfather," Ray tells PopCulture.com. "He was one of seven kids. He got out of the Army, married my grandmother. They were married 53 years. They had my dad and my uncle. He was a middle class, hardworking, honest, Christian man, that had a passion for music like nobody I've ever seen, even to this day. He passed that down to my dad's generation and their cousins, that were all around that time. He was the hub of everybody learning, and wanting to be a part of that."
The family's shared love of music resulted in a family band, spending weekends together performing in their home state.
"It was my dad, my grandpa, my uncle, my cousins," Ray reflects. "They traveled around Florida doing their thing. Then the next generation came, my generation, the grandkids. I was the first grandson at the time – there's a few more down behind me, but I'm my dad's only son. I was always with him and my dad. They always had me on stage. I was nine years old and really wanted to learn how to play. He was the one that taught me my first chord, and him and my dad would teach me chords. I started playing music with him every weekend, from nine years old."
Those early years with the family patriarchs might have been unconventional, but Ray wouldn't be where he is today without the childhood he had.
"I didn't know at the time how fortunate I was," says Ray. "Musically, I didn't realize how fortunate I was to be raised around music and taught music, and to be knowledgeable about music that came way before me. I was raised on Porter Wagoner, and Bobby Bare, and Earl Thomas Conley, and Ray Price, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, all those. That's what I was learning with my grandfather, and that's what I was playing every weekend, and that's what I loved.
"Still, to this day," he continues, "that's what I listen to probably more than anything else. I'm a fan of a lot of stuff. Some days I just wake up and wanted to listen to nothing but some sad old country songs."
Ray made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry playing his grandfather's guitar in 2015 – a fitting tribute since the singer-songwriter would have never even known about the Opry without the influence of Amos.
"He was also one that taught me about the Grand Ole Opry, and I watched the VHS tapes with him, of Minnie Pearl, and Grandpa Jones, Stringbean, all these Opry members, and Marty Stuart," Ray recalls. "He's the one that taught me the significance of the Grand Ole Opry and what it means to country music, and why it is what it is. He said, 'I don't know how you get there from Eustace, Florida, but hopefully you can get there one day.'"
Amos was recorded in honor of the man who inspired the artist Ray is becoming.
"I feel like when people hear Amos in its entirety, they're going to know me better," says Ray. "They're going to know the last two years of my life. They're going to know my story. I wanted them to know where it began, and it began with him."0comments
Purchase Amos at MichaelRayMusic.com.
Photo Credit: Instagram/michaelraymusic