19 May 1932 (age 85)
Barring Divine intervention, hard work and desire are probably the key factors in anyone’s success in whatever business they choose to be a part of. When they’re combined with genuine talent, the sky’s the limit. And so it is for David Ray.
Ray got his start in his native Michigan, a state known for the likes of Bob Seger, Ted Nugent and the Eagles’ Glenn Frey. While leaning a few chords on his father’s guitar, Ray gravitated towards the sounds of country, classic rock and folk, listening to people like Garth Brooks and Dwight Yoakam as well as James Taylor.
He knew he wanted a career in music, but Ray did the prudent thing and pursued a college education at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant. He ended up playing regularly as a solo acoustic artist at the Cabin, a major college hangout in the mid-Michigan area. He still returns to the North Country on occasion to play at the venue where he honed his chops and learned how to work an audience.
After graduating from college, Ray set his sights on Nashville, where he planned to use his degree to teach school while learning the city and the music business. Alas, there were no jobs open in Nashville for him, even though he’d actually obtained his Tennessee teaching certificate. So he ended up accepting a teaching position in South Florida, having no idea what doors would be opened to him there.
"I think it worked out for the best," Ray said, of the chain of events that followed his arrival in Florida. In 2008, he learned about Kenny Chesney’s "Next Big Star" competition and decided to enter, first auditioning solo and then assembling a band to perform with a couple weeks after he’d been accepted. He won the competition, and soon found himself opening for Chesney himself in front of some 15,000 party-loving music lovers.
Following that victory, 99.9 KISS Country Program Director, Ken Boesen, and his staff soon began to book David for countless station events, including Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes games. KISS Country also hired Ray to play at the station’s concert venue in Fort Lauderdale, where he shared the stage with such artists as Billy Currington, Travis Tritt, Pat Green, Chris Young and American Idol champion Taylor Hicks. He received the kind of break and exposure that he probably never would have found in Nashville.
When Ray moved to Nashville in 2010, he hit the ground running, performing almost as soon as he pulled into town. In addition to performing in acoustic, in-the-round settings, Ray also performed at Paradise Park on Lower Broadway for a few months before landing steady gigs at Honky Tonk Central and the Legendary Tootsies Orchid Lounge.
In late 2012, Ray began working with manager Greg Hill who helped him land his first publishing deal with Big Deal Music. Today Ray’s time is spent writing songs with various Nashville hit songwriters, performing weekend gigs, and preparing to release his freshman album.
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