It was 2009 and Brandon Ray had just finished his last tour with his rock band. They’d played more than 250 shows a year on the Warped Tour for 2 years, but something just didn’t feel right.
“The rock world just became “flavor of the day” – there weren’t really many loyal fans. I’ve always had a love for country music and it was just a natural move for me.”
So Brandon packed up and moved to Nashville. The Texas-native had already learned a thing or two about the country standards of love and heartbreak.
“I grew up in west Texas with 2 parents who worked their butts off to provide for me and my 2 brothers. My dad worked for the Union Pacific railroad and was gone Monday-Friday and we’d see him on weekends. My mom took care of us during the week and taught school. We had broke down cars that we had to fix ourselves and weren’t strangers to being broke.”
And what seemed like a door closing in his childhood was actually a window opening to his future music career.
“All growing up I wanted to be a pitcher for the Texas Rangers. Around 13 and 14, though, I had to have 2 surgeries on my foot that completely took me out of playing sports. My dad loved Stevie Ray Vaughn and blues music, so while I was healing I got a cheap guitar and tried to learn every song of his. The more I played, the better I got, and the more I started to write my own songs. Definitely the defining moment that brought me here.”
All of those hard times eventually shaped the sound of his music.
“My music weaves in and out of struggle and freedom – I know what it’s like to have nothing, have my heart broken, and to have to fix my 89 ford ranger myself because I have a negative balance in my bank account. I’ve loved and lost and I’ve found an incredible forever love.”
This year, Brandon has been on the road with fellow country rocker Kip Moore. And how it started is one of his favorite memories:
“On a Friday morning back in February, my manager called me around 9am and said “can you be on a plane to Kansas City by noon?” Kip Moore needed an opener in Kansas City and Iowa that weekend because Chase Bryant came down with the flu. Both shows were sold out and I’ve been gone every weekend since. Too cool!”
He’s learned a lot by touring with artists like Kip, making connections with new friends along the way.
“Country fans work 50, 60, or more hours a week and spend their hard earned cash on a ticket to come see you – the least you can do is entertain them and give them a show. Putting yourself on their level is everything – there are no rockstars, just brand new best friends! Connecting with people is my passion – I want to show people love and positivity because I might be the only light they see that day.”
That friendship with Kip has also led to new music. Brandon recently released the song “American Way,” which was written by Kip, Brett James, and Nick Brophy.
“He didn’t put it on his record so he sent it to me – I loved it and started playing it out – it was the song I needed! And the rest is history!”
So what’s up next for Brandon?
“I’m doing my own solo shows, joining Bobby Bones on his remaining Raging Idiots shows this year, playing many country festivals like Country Thunder in 2017. We just released a tune called “That Could Be Us” that radio Disney has been playing like crazy. We’re looking release another single and an EP early next year.”
You can find Brandon’s music and tour dates on his site at www.brandonrayofficial.com