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.