It was Michael Ray's grandfather, Amos Roach, who inspired a lot in Ray's life, including his love of music. When Ray decided to move from his native Florida to Nashville, Roach was his biggest supporter and loudest fan. So when his beloved grandparent passed away shortly before Ray's debut single, "Kiss You in the Morning" was released, the loss felt tremendous, but also motivated Ray to work harder than ever before.
"That was the weirdest time of my life, I think," Ray admitted to CMT. "We were on radio tour, we had the single picked. My grandfather — who, as everybody knows, I was very, very close with, he got me into music, the whole thing — passed away two weeks before the song went to radio. And so, emotionally … for me it was like, here I am, living the dream, getting my shot. I'm up at bat, I'm getting my chance to hit the ball on this date. You know, everything else is going great, and then your whole world crumbles."
While Ray still misses his grandfather, naming his sophomore album after him, the 31-year-old has already found the silver lining in Roach's absence.
"But what was kind of cool was he instilled such a strong work ethic," Ray reflected. "Everybody in our family just knew how he felt about them. When he passed away, I had a show the next day in Orlando, at the House of Blues. All these radio guys were coming, it was my big show. It was literally the worst thing that could've happened at this moment in time. But everything that he'd instilled in me and my family, we carried that on. And I got a chance to honor him during that show.
"And I didn't stop radio tour," he continued. "It kind of changed for me. It was like, now I'm going to be able to talk about him and spread his legacy. It gave me motivation. And to debut on the Opry a couple of months later was a dream of mine. To then be on the verge, to see 'Kiss You in the Morning' break records as far as adds go, and for it to hit No. 1. … All these things that happened during that time, I know how fortunate I was, and how blessed I was to have that."
Ray will undoubtedly pay honor to Roach at his upcoming wedding to Carly Pearce. The nuptials are expected to take place within the next couple weeks. Ray's current single, "Her World or Mine," is rapidly climbing the charts. Find tour dates, and purchase Amos, at Ray's website.
Photo Credit: Getty images / Steve Jennings