When rising country singer Michael Ray made his first exploratory trip to Nashville, he got a life-changing piece of advice from an industry insider.
“He said, ‘Don’t move. The way the music industry’s going to become, you’re not going to be able to get a record deal just doing a showcase anymore. You’ve got to bring something to the table,’” Ray said. “He said, ‘I want to you to go back to Florida, grab a band and become the biggest you can be in Florida on your own, and then I want you to come back.’ So I put a band together of friends of mine and we started to play.”
Turns out it was the best thing Ray ever did. He built a rowdy fan base tilling the same fertile Southeastern soil Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan used to start their careers and returned to Nashville three years later to claim a record deal, a publishing contract and a few unexpected opportunities along the way.