and songwriter gives Gary a unique perspective on the business while simultaneously allowing him to direct his career and artistic goals with insight not often seen in most recording artists. Overall, Gary Ray is an artist with a unique sound who isn’t afraid to push the envelope when it comes to recording and producing music for himself or directing the careers of other prominent and up-and-coming recording stars.
Born in Luhnsthul, Germany to a military family where dad was himself a songwriter — and fighter pilot — the family relocated to Tucker, Georgia when Gary was 5 years old.
Gary’s career path was etched early-on when he deliberately shunned his High School graduation ceremonies to go on tour with Edwin McCain. Gary Ray laughs, “I have been on the road ever since.”
Born Gary Ray (Pfaff), Gary was a music industry “early bloomer.” His first group, Dial 8 gave Gary a taste of life as a working musician. Gary’s next band, Obsession Day took it to the next level, performing with the likes of Lifehouse, Goo Goo Dolls, and Counting Crows. Gary notes, “Of course we broke up like most bands right on the cusp of a major deal.” Obsession Day was one of the most downloaded bands on college music radio falling second only to the Zac Brown Band. Following Obsession, Gary was signed to a small, independent label. The then Gary “Pfaff” released 2 albums; “White Stars” and “Under The Influence – Live” which achieved modest success and gave Gary the creative initiative to follow his artistic dreams.
Fast forward to Nashville 2011. Now an executive at Better Angels Music, Ray also has studio chops. He has engineered and/or produced numerous projects including The Judies, Boyce Avenue, John Pringle and Tim Brantley, among others. In the studio, Gary has earned hundreds of production and engineering credits with the most notable being the previously mentioned internationally successful Boyce Avenue, now signed to Universal Records. As a producer/engineer Gary began his career splitting his time between producing a 23-song rock opera, and working for Scooter Braun (now Justin Beiber’s manager) at Krypton Studios. This is where he first was exposed to the art of successful independent promotion and big business.
Regarding juggling his love for producing with the grind of touring mixed with his executive Better Angels duties, Gary says, “I miss the studio from back in my producing days… I love the recording process, but I have had to let that go for a little bit to get out in front of the fans more. Music is changing and the only way to give the fans what they REALLY want is to bring the show to their hometown.”
Not one to compromise the creative process on his own projects, he has produced/mixed/engineered all of his own albums including the latest release – “Livin The Dream” which was funded soley through fan support on Kickstarter.com
Livin’ the Dream features guest appearances by members of Zac Brown Band. The single, Quit Buckin’ Around received major radio airplay, especially in the Southeast. Gary’s favorite track on his new album is Here We Go Again. Gary adds, I really am partial to Here We Go Again because it’s my true style. I wrote it with my good friend, Josh Dunne, and my opinion of the song hasn’t changed since day one — and that is rare for me these days.”
His fan base is deep and getting deeper. Gary won the people’s choice awards in Atlanta, Georgia for Atlanta’s favorite hometown band and lost the following year to Zac Brown and his music is in-demand by those in the know. Gary Ray’s music has been licensed by MTV, VH1, E!, OPRAH, and other networks.
Touring a consistent 250 plus shows a year with a fanbase in mainly Southeast, Gary’s popularity seemingly grows instantaneously with each and every live performance. He’s recently toured with and/or opened for: Brantley Gilbert, Corey Smith, Lady Antebellum, Chris Cagle, and Miranda Lambert and CO-headlined the Jagermeister Get UR Country On Club Tour with Rick Monroe in the summer of 2011. Gary adds, “I like touring because I enjoy seeing new faces and places everyday. I love to see how far word can travel about an artist. Working my twitter account and facebook page is something that I’ve made myself grow into. As far as touring itself, I was built for it.”
Juggling his VP label stripes with being an artist continues to be a challenge Gary is happy to tackle. He says, “It’s definitely a give and take proposal. I constantly have fans telling me that they wish I would put as much time into my career as I do into some of my artists. I have to remind them that I am in a position to make an enormous change for a lot of people. I am blessed with an artists heart and a business mind.”
With comparisons to Eric Church and Jason Aldean Gary is comfortable in that artistic company. He concludes, “I like listening to both of those guys. And I like that they aren’t afraid to push Country radio to play something different… just like me.”
Gary Ray has over 16 years worth of experience in the music industry and has worn many hats throughout his career, including that of artist, executive, songwriter producer, manager, and promoter. Gary has been singled-out in numerous publications as being one of the hardest working people in the industry. He has no intention of slowing down. His ability to relate to and support the Better Angels Artists comes from his own experiences as a professional touring artist. Gary Ray’s innovative and forward thinking approach to the ever-changing music industry brings a fresh and promising energy to Better Angels.