I got the opportunity to sit down with latin-country singer-songwriter Frank Ray at the Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam in Panama City, Florida last weekend to get a deep dive on who he is and what he’s got in store for the genre. From a shift in occupations to his upcoming single release and a special surprise for his fans, Frank Ray is a force to be reckoned with. Read through to find out what Frank and his team have in store in the upcoming months.
1.) What have you been up to during the pandemic? Have you used it for down time or have you been working on new music?
“A little bit of both. My wife and I have been able to hang out more than we’ve ever been able to hang out, so that’s been cool. In fact she’s been like, ‘Don’t you have to go on tour or something?’ But seriously, it’s allowed me to get really creative in songwriting and I’ve been able to just go in deep with that year to just write as much as I possibly could. It’s been a productive year even though it’s been a tragic one.”
2.) Are you excited to play the Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam again?
“I am, it’s one of the biggest country music festivals in the U.S. so it’s always an honor to play on this stage. And who doesn’t love the beach? I’m actually mostly excited about this one because my family is down for the first time so we get to hang out at the beach.”
3.) What made you decide to switch professions? (from cop to singer-songwriter)
“It was really just a push from my wife. She always knew music was where my heart has been at. I had kind of flirted with the idea with my manager and he didn’t want to tell me to quit but he said that if I did, we’d be able to really put our best foot forward. So in 2017 I took the plunge and started doing this full time. The real goal is to inspire kids like me watching their idols come up. And if that means having to win awards and that’s a realistic long term goal that kids can aspire to do then that’s definitely what I want to strive for. At the end of the day it’s really just about making music, playing and performing and just doing what I love to do.”
4.) What do you want to tell fans about your new song coming out on June 11th?
“June 11th is when my new single, ‘Streetlights’ will be coming out. We’re really fired up about that because not only is it new music but it’s also the first debut single with a signed label [BBR Music Group]. It’s surreal that the music I’m putting out in a long time is on a label. I’m just glad it all worked out. There’s been a shortage of hispanic artists to emerge in this genre in a really long time. It was a big task to come out here and do something fresh for the genre [Mixing a Latin sound with country]. But I really think we nailed it with this song. And I’m really excited about what the reaction is going to be.
5.) Where do you draw a lot of your inspiration from?
“My wife and tequila. No, honestly it’s just from life experiences. I’ve been fortunate enough to have plenty of that. My family and I are all really close, my manager and I are like family and his family is like family so we’re really all just one big happy unit. So it’s easy to draw inspiration for songs when you’re talking about having a good time. It’s easy to draw inspiration about love when I think about my own family. I just draw inspiration from every walk of life.”
6.) Do you have any favorite country artists to listen to?
“I’m stuck in the 90s, I’ve never moved on. I love listening to 90s country music. I’m a big Tracy Lawrence fan and obviously George Strait. But Tracy Lawrence is very obviously a big inspiration of mine. Freddy Fender was also a big one because of his hispanic roots. And other than that, just anyone in the 90s. It’s where my heart is.”
7.) Do you have a favorite memory from performing or place that you’ve performed at?
“There’s a couple that come to mind. The first one was sort of a defining moment that I wanted to be in music. I was still a cop at the time. And the band that I had there locally, we won a battle of the band kind of thing which gave us the opportunity to open up for Keith Urban and that was at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was like a Tuesday night and we opened up. I was on the big stage, and it was my first time on the big stage. It was like a dream come true. It was the defining moment where I was like, “this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
“The most memorable show was at a tiny little town in a ghost town in New Mexico called Clayton. They brought us out to do this whole main street festival. It was a tiny town, the entire town was there. And there was this huge thunderstorm and it zapped the power out. It happened in the middle of a song and my band pretty much just packed up and left me. And I just kept on playing. And there was this couple just dancing in the rain and so it was just me and my guitar playing until lighting hit. At one point they brought out a little bluetooth speaker and I hooked my guitar up to it and I got a microphone and put it in the middle of the street where people were sitting. And then my band came and joined me and the band that was after us had trumpets and the works and they just came and played with us. We were all jamming out and the entire town was there. We were all soaking wet. I just wanted to play rain or shine and people spent good money so I was making sure they got a good show.”
8.) Is there any piece of advice that you have gotten from larger acts that you still use?
“Yeah I’ve taken little bits and pieces from artists that I still use. The big one is just stay true to yourself, stay authentic really. It is the music industry and there are a lot people who will put in their two sense and try and tell you what to do, but if you just surround yourself with the right people that know you as a person, it will help you keep that authentic factor. I just keep my feet close to the ground and write some good music.”
9.) Do you have any advice for artists who are just starting out in the music industry?
“Just make sure you surround yourself with people who support you and can see your vision.”
10.) Is there anything else you want your fans to know?
“I’ve got a 4 song EP coming out in August that I’m really psyched about because the label let me just showcase who I am as an artist, as a person, and musically. From the country stuff to the latin stuff. My label was super accepting and has allowed me to be extremely authentic with myself and my music and I really think fans can see that in this EP.”
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