As are so many rising country stars, but Ray was the one who caught our attention recently with this truly kind post from Chesney’s Dallas tour stop about seizing the opportunity to learn from the very best.
Fortunately, CMT.com had a chance to sit down with Ray in the days after the Dallas show, so we inquired about the teaching moment and got a huge lesson ourselves on the importance of continuing education in touring.
“Chesney was my second concert,” Ray told us. “I’m from Florida, and it was him, Montgomery Gentry and Terri Clark all at the St. Petersburg Forum.” Growing up, Ray and his buddies traveled all over to catch each tour stop Chesney made in his home state.
“I’ve always been the guy — I’ve always been in music and wanted to be in music. All my friends were slamming beers and singing all the words, and I’m just watching him,” he said.
Studying him is likely a better phrase here. Ray was taking notes, even back then, just like he posted in that photo on Instagram.
An artist like Chesney is a giant in the country world, but not just to his fans and No Shoes Nation family. Even though Ray is a successful country artist with a No. 1 hit under his belt, he’s still a Chesney fan, first and foremost. And lucky to be under the tutelage of one of the greatest entertainers in music.
“Now, with where we’re at in our career and where things are going,” he adds, “watching him hold 50,000 people in the palm of his hand, I’m watching him segue his songs, watching him speak and when he spoke it was intentional. It wasn’t to buy time. He knew what he was going to say. He just had that crowd going, and you couldn’t help but be a part of it.”
“At one point in time we were on top of the front of house area — and even all the way back there, it feels like he’s talking to me.”
That’s a phrase you’ll hear so many artists say about Chesney, who’s known for his ability and desire to truly connect with folks on and offstage.
“He has a talent of taking people away from what’s outside that stadium and what they’re going through in their life,” Ray said. “That’s a connection I want to make sure I have, whether it’s at a club or a stadium.”
If Ray’s words are true, that “everybody’s show is a touch of something you’ve been inspired by,” then we can’t wait to see his audience grow to 50,000 people in a stadium, singing along in perfect unison to “Kiss A Little More,” hanging on his every word one day very soon.