Michael Ray's long-awaited Amos album is finally out. The title for the 11-track record is in honor of Ray's grandfather, who instilled in the singer an early love of music.
"Amos is my grandfather," Ray tells PopCulture.com. "He was one of seven kids. 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."
Ray's love of not only music, but performing, can be traced back to Amos, who first passed it on to Ray's father.
"They started a family band," recalls Ray. "It was my dad, my grandpa, my uncle, my cousins. 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 he 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 he and my dad would teach me chords. I started playing music with him every weekend, from nine years old."
When deciding what to name the project, the 30-year-old was asked where his love of music began, and he realized he owed everything to his family's patriarch.
"If you want to know me, if you want to know why I am the way I am, you want to know why I try to be the way I am, is because of him, because of who he was, what he left behind, and that's what I want to tell the world," Ray reveals. "You're talking about a guy who was a telephone man, telephone installation and repair, for 50 years ... In the world that we live in now of how do you tell success? How do you tell if you've made it? We have to have 14 cars in a 20-car garage. You've got to have this big house. You've got to make sure the new iPhone comes out, so I got it first, so I must have money.
"My grandfather didn't have any of that, and it was a three mile procession to his grave site. It was an overflow," adds Ray. "I heard these stories; I still to this day hear stories of, 'Man, your grandfather Amos, if it wasn't for him, there was times I wouldn't even know if I paid my light bill.' He wasn't monetary rich, he was life rich. Hearing those stories, 'If it wasn't for him, this one time, I was broken down on the side of the road. He was the only person I thought I could call. I remembered his number.' Hearing those stories, it just made me even more want to be able to tell that story and to tell who he was. It just really helped me embody this record as a piece of art."
Ray is an established songwriter, who wrote the Big & Rich hit, "Run Away With You," which Ray also included on his self-titled freshman record. But even though he still writes as much as he can, he didn't feel the need to include any of his own songs on Amos.
"I'll be honest, this record snuck up on me, making this second album," admits Ray. "We were on the road, we were promoting 'Think A Little Less.' It was working, everything was rocking. We're doing this thing, and time to make a new record. I was like, 'OK, let's write.' I don't make records for my ego; that does nothing. I make records to make the best album I can, and the best song wins. I wasn't writing the best songs at the time."
Even though Ray didn't write any of the songs, he found exactly what he wanted to communicate through the talented songwriting community in Nashville.
"I already knew what I wanted to say on this album," says Ray. "When we're gone 200 and something dates a year, they're writing. They're going, 'Hey, I wrote this. I think you would crush this.' Out of everybody they could pitch to, they think you would be the one to do it. They were able to write my story better than I think I could.
"At that moment in time, I was going through a lot," continues Ray. "In the middle of making this record I changed management. There was a lot of stuff going on that was not letting me be kind of creatively free, be able to focus on things I needed to."
Most importantly, Ray hopes that with the release of Amos, his fans can see a new side of him, and become more acquainted with the man behind the music.
"When it came time to name this record, this album, I feel like when people hear it in its entirety, they're going to know me better," he says. "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 or stream Amos at MichaelRayMusic.com.
Photo Credit: Instagram/michaelraymusic