CMA Fest: Michael Ray Uses Event to Say Thank You to His Fans

Michael Ray is having a busy CMA Fest, but he isn't complaining. The Florida native is happy to do whatever it takes to get up close and personal with his fans.

"It's a lot going on," Ray told PopCulture.com. "We're running crazy, but I think it's one of the many things about country music that keeps it such a massive genre in people's lives and I think that's why you have the longevity of a lot of country artists because we're the only genre that has a week out of the year where we thank fans from all over the world. I mean today I met people from Germany, Australia, UK, obviously all over the United States.

"It's our time to say thank you, thank you for coming, and changing our life, making our music a part of your life," he added. "I think that's one of the many things that makes country music a very special family."

Ray has seen both his stages and his fans improve since his first CMA Fest performance several years ago.

"We're not on the tiny stage out in the middle of this open field where they're like, 'We'll just put you here. You good?'" Ray recalled. "I think it's really cool. I think CMA Fest is a good time for reflection whenever you start playing here. I used to watch it on TV when it was Fan Fair, and I was like begging my Dad, 'C'mon, I wanna go. I gotta go.'

"We never made it back then, and my first time ever at CMA Fest I was playing it," he continued. "I started in front of the Bridgestone, the little stage out there, then went to the field in front of the [Country Music] Hall of Fame, and would do little different things, and we just kind of started seeing it grow."

Ray performed this year at the Riverfront stage, which has been a dream of his for several years.

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"I remember Riverfront being my goal," Ray said. "I grew up watching it, seeing it. I wanted to play Riverfront. [It's] my first time playing it. My Dad and a bunch of family came up. We just got off stage just a little bit ago, and it's just really cool to see the connection with the fans. It's really cool to see just how big this is getting, and the journey that we're all on together."

Photo Credit: Getty images / Dominik Bindl