Our newest column gives EDIT readers a personal look into some of Nashville’s most interesting inhabitants with snappy questions and some equally snappy answers. Our typical profiles dive deep into the lives of those featured, but the EDIT Files aims to shed light on the little glimmers of everyday life.
To Michael, music is family and stories, history and hope. No stranger to facing demons, he’s been open with friends and fans alike about his personal struggles with anxiety. In fact, he’s been dealing with ulcer-causing stress and nerves since childhood. He credits his late grandfather, Amos, for helping him find an outlet that led to his current-day success as an artist. The Florida native first began singing and performing in his grandfather’s band when he was only nine years old. Clearly, he was destined to build a career from that experience. In just four short years, his hard work has been rewarded with three number one hits on the Country Music Charts (“Kiss You in the Morning”, “Think a Little Less”, and “One That Got Away”). The crooner has, to no surprise, already earned five RIAA Gold-certified singles in the early stages of his career. Ray has uncovered that oh-so-sweet spot between vintage classic vibes and popular modern country. You can catch him (and that to-die-for smile), live every Tuesday on his Honky Tonk Tuesday virtual series, where he shares his favorite 80’s and 90’s tracks. Outside of music, he’s most likely going off-roading in his Jeep or perfecting his aim during CenterPoint Archery sessions.
Astrological Sign: Taurus
Born & Raised: Eustis, FL
Morning Ritual: One of my favorite breakfast spots on the road is First Watch. They recently gifted me some of their staples and I’ve really enjoyed waking up with a cup of their coffee.
Daily Uniform: Definitely depends on what I’m doing, but most days it’s a simple crew neck t-shirt and jeans. Always seems to do the trick. When I am able to be more casual, it’s a hoodie, shorts, and a baseball cap.
Healthiest Habit: Making a commitment to working out and being physically active. It helps me keep a positive mindset.
Early Bird or Night Owl: It’s more fun being a night owl, but I feel more productive being an early bird.
Exercise Regimen: I’ve recently started doing fasted cardio, where I don’t eat before getting in a run. Other than that, I like to stick to free weights, and I do a lot of bodyweight and resistance band training when I’m on the road.
I Never Leave Home Without: My wallet, keys, and phone.
3 P.M. Snack: Usually a protein bar. I always like to have one on hand.
Hobbies: I love hunting when I get the chance and taking my Jeep on an off-road trail – basically anything that gets me outdoors.
Cocktail: Whiskey neat.
Currently Obsessed With: Turkey season.
Best Advice: Meet yourself where you are – everything takes time, commitment, and patience. Don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you should be faster or stronger than you are right now.
How I Find Calm: I’ve always been a “go, go, go” kind of person, and that’s been one of the good things to come out of quarantine – I had to learn how to unwind and find calm. I realized spending time with my family is my favorite way to do that.
Close to My Heart: I am passionate about organizations supporting awareness and prevention of heart disease. It runs in my family and ultimately led to the passing of my grandfather and my uncle – both of whom were very important to me. I think that early detection can be preventative, and I’d like to use my platform to encourage people of all ages to get their hearts checked early and often.
Favorite Seat on a Plane: Window seat with an empty middle seat!
Prized Possession: My grandfather’s guitar. I made my Opry debut with it, and played one of the first songs he taught me, Porter Wagoner’s “Green Green Grass of Home.”
My Most Marked Characteristic: I do my best to make the people around me feel comfortable and like they’re among friends, even if I don’t know them that well.
I Value: Honesty and integrity.
My Inspiration: My family. They’ve always supported my wildest dreams, and they’ve helped me make sure I’ve stayed true to myself. Nashville can be a very tough town, and just knowing that my family has been rooting for me from Florida gives me the strength to keep going.
Most Used App: Probably Instagram.
Favorite Place in the World: Anywhere that I’m on stage and connecting with fans through music.
Dream Collaboration: So hard to decide, there are so many greats! I’d love the opportunity to collaborate with Reba.
Career High: My love for country music always centered around the Grand Ole Opry, so being able to be on that stage and in that circle is always an achievement. Every single time is special, and I’ll play it every chance they’ll have me.
Curing a Creative Block: I think it really helps to reach out to your friends and other songwriters. Getting a few folks together to work out a line or a hook that’s just not there yet, but you can feel the potential if you just had a little insight from someone else, works every time.
Up Next: I’ve been working on new music over the last year or so, and I’m really excited for my fans to hear it. I think they’ll get a better understanding of who I am. These songs have come to mean a lot to me, and I think they were a large part in helping me find my true self.