WARPED TOUR, PLAYING FOR BRETT ELDREDGE, AND SIGNING WITH KEITH URBAN: HOW BRANDON RAY TURNED HIS LESSONS FROM THE ROAD INTO AN EXCITING SOLO CAREER
NASHVILLE SINCE 2009
If you’d asked Brandon Ray what he wanted to be when he grew up as a kid, he would’ve said Nolan Ryan or Troy Aikman. But a baseball injury when he was 13 led him to pick up a guitar, and he’s been on a nonstop musical journey ever since.
“I was just laying in bed all day,” he says of his recovery. “And they told me I couldn’t play sports anymore.” Brandon had grown up with a wide range of musical influences – country, rock, jazz, blues – and his brother played drums. They started a band through high school, and by the time college came around, it was pretty serious.
“Quickly after going to college, we were like screw college, and we all quit and went on the Warped Tour for a couple years,” he says. “I learned how important it was to connect with the audience and connect with our fans, eye to eye, face to face.”
The west Texas native learned his work ethic early on. “I remember being in junior high, in high school, and busting my ass mowing lawns, and just any job,” he says. “My parents were like, ‘Hey dude, you got a roof, but if you want to drive, whatever you want to do, you need to get a job.’ Whether it’s slinging merch, driving a van 13 hours, or setting up guitars and amps, whatever has to be done, you have to be willing to do it. And you have to treat it like a business.”
Brandon moved to Nashville in 2009 to continue chasing the musical dream in a serious way, this time as a solo artist chasing his country roots. “I loved country music, I loved this town,” he says. He got a job at Cheesecake Factory and played writers nights and sang on demos, working towards a publishing deal. And though he did land the deal – just 11 months into moving here – it still wasn’t the time for his artist career to begin again.
“A few years after I moved here, I was just trying to make money, so I became a guitar player,” he says. He played with Chuck Wicks and eventually Brett Eldredge, with whom he toured for two years during Brett’s slot on Taylor Swift’s Red Tour and the “Don’t Ya” radio tour and rise to recognition. Though ultimately he quit the guitarist gigs to focus on his own career, he took a lot of the lessons from his time on the road with him.
Now, he’s building an incredible fanbase of his own. He’s toured all across the country, and opened for artists like Kip Moore and Jon Pardi. As he continued to write, record, and tour, he caught the eye of Keith Urban and Ross Copperman, who signed him and produce his music now.
“I was talking to my wife about this, and she was like, ‘If signing with Keith and Ross Copperman happened two years ago, you wouldn’t have been ready,’” he says. “There’s a lot that I learned in a short amount of time with writing and recording and figuring out exactly who I am and who I want to show the world, and that’s when Keith and Ross stepped in."
It’s connecting like wildfire.