Michael Ray Celebrates Third No. 1 Backstage At The Grand Ole Opry

Pictured (L-R): WMN’s Cris Lacy, Rhythm House’s Stevie Frasure, BMI’s Josh Tomlinson, Jesse Frasure, Smacksongs’ Lee Krabel, Michael Ray, ASCAP’s Beth Brinker, Josh Osborne, Sony ATV Music Publishing’s Josh Van Valkenburg, ReHits’ Ree Guyer and Abbe Nameche, Rezonant Music Publishing’s Tim Wipperman, Downtown Music Publishing’s Matt Turner. Photo: Steve Lowry

Warner Music Nashville recording artist Michael Ray celebrated his third No. 1 song, “One That Got Away,” on Tuesday (July 23) backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, just before his performance for the evening. Some of the songwriters responsible for the song, Josh Osborne and Jesse Frasure, were on hand to celebrate; their co-writers Matthew Ramsey and Trevor Rosen were not available, as the Old Dominion members were on tour.

ASCAP’s Beth Brinker was the always-lovely host. She got things started and thanked ASCAP’s partner, First Tennessee Bank. Brinker was on hand to talk about Rosen and Ramsey, as well as Osborne—who had notched his 18th No. 1 with the Michael Ray hit.

“They are out there on the road, chasing their dreams,” Brinker said of Rosen and Ramsey. “It’s so special because they started their careers as songwriters and having success with other artists and they have followed their dreams and had so much success as a band, and then they continue to write great songs that come to life through other artists like Michael.

“If I had to say what is Josh Osborne’s trademark, I wouldn’t say his amazing voice—because, Lord knows—it would be his very thoughtful influence and he does that in his lyrics and he does that in his melodies, he does that with the relationships that he has and it’s so special to see the way that he very thoughtfully has influenced this genre, and continues to do that. It’s a cool thing to know that there’s always going to be a place on the radio like the ones that Josh Osborne writes,” Brinker said.

BMI’s Josh Tomlinson stepped up to the mic to talk about Frasure and Ray.

When speaking on Frasure, Tomlinson said: “He’s proven time and time again that you cannot pigeon-hole him into one particular sound. His influences and styles range all across the board and span multiple genres. He just gets cooler and cooler.”

“Michael Ray has a classic sound,” Tomlinson continued. “His ability to cut the best song stems from his relationships within the songwriting community and the friendships he has created by embracing them.

“He’s seen an incredible amount of professional and personal growth this year, it’s also worth mentioning that his future wife is in the room right now, Carly Pearce—that won’t be ‘one that got away.’ Zing,” Tomlinson joked.

Next up to the mic was Rhythm House’s VP of Creative and Jesse’s wife, Stevie Frasure. She claimed that she didn’t know that she was going to speak, but delivered a thoughtful and eloquent thank you to Jesse, the songwriters, Michael Ray, Cris Lacy and Warner Music Nashville, as well as producer Scott Hendricks.

She made a point to thank Tina Crawford at Major Bob Music. “Thank you to Tina Crawford for pitching songs for us even after Jesse left Major Bob and those songs are kind of left behind. You hope that someone still has the passion and appreciates the song as much as you do, so I just want to say thank you, Tina.”

Wrensong Publishing’s Ree Guyer then made her way to the stage, along with Rezonant Music Publishing’s Tim Wipperman, to talk about Trevor Rosen. “Not only has Trevor has six No. 1’s with Old Dominion, this is his fifth outside cut as a writer. We wish he was here. He is an amazing human being and is so much fun to work with.

“Michael, when I first met you, you were coming around to every single publisher in town and getting to know us and you’re an amazing, nice person and I love that you go out and look for songs,” Guyer continued. “And that you don’t have to write them all. You just find your favorite songs and you cut them. And this is poof of that.”

Pictured (L-R): Adrian Michaels (WMN, National Director, Radio & Streaming, WEA), Diane Monk (Manager, WEA Radio & Streaming), Victoria Nugent (VP Strategic Marketing, WMN), Kate Myers (Coordinator, WEA Radio & Streaming), Jessie Frasure, Chad Schultz (WMN VP Radio Marketing), Shari Roth (Manager, WEA Radio & Streaming), Michael Ray, Stephanie Hagerty (Manager, WEA Radio & Streaming), Josh Osborne, Matt Signore (COO, WMN), Cris Lacy (EVP A&R, WMN), Kristen Williams (SVP Radio & Streaming, WMN ), Ben Kline (EVP / GM), Ray Mariner (Manager, WEA Radio & Streaming. Photo: Chris Hollo for the Grand Ole Opry

SMACKSongs’ Lee Krabel spoke on behalf of Ramsey, Rosen and Osborne. “Matt and Trevor were some of SMACK’s earliest signees and they set the bar for what we expect of our artists and writers in terms of their work ethic and song quality, and still to this day, we hold all of our artists up to the standard of Old Dominion and Matt and Trevor.

“And for Josh, as one of our fearless leaders at SMACK, Josh is always one of the first people to write with our young writers. They always come back a better writer and multiple times they have come to me and said they feel like they could write a No. 1 hit the next day after writing with Josh,” Krabel said.

“How about that day with Josh? Jesse’s gonna start getting them the day after!” Osborne joked.

Sony/ATV’s Josh Van Valkenburg made sure to thank everyone involved: Michael Ray, Scott Hendricks, Cris Lacy, the Warner Music Nashville radio promotion staff, and Morris Higham (Ray’s management).

“I just have to say what an honor and a privilege it is to work with a man like Josh Osborne,” Valkenburg said. “There are very few songwriters who have ever graced this town with obviously the talent that he has, but he’s a man of his word, he’s honest, he’s kind and he’s not afraid to be vulnerable at the right time. We all need to be aware in this moment of how special a man like him is.”

Cris Lacy—Warner Music Nashville’s Sr. VP, A&R—then made her way to the stage to speak on Michael Ray. She read a message from John Esposito, Warner’s Chairman & CEO, that praised Michael’s growth and thanked the songwriters and publishers.

Lacy impressed the crowd, and Ray himself, with the current statistics for “One That Got Away.” She also made sure to recognize some of the radio promotion staff that championed the song up the charts: Diane Monk, Shari Roth, Stephanie Hagerty, Ray Mariner, Kate Myers, and Chad Schultz. WEA’s leaders Adrian Michaels and Kristen Williams presented Ray with a plaque.

Michael Ray on stage with Josh Osborne, Jesse Frasure and WMN’s Adrian Michaels and Cris Lacy. Photo: Chris Hollo for the Grand Ole Opry

Frasure echoed Lacy’s admiration. “We know that promo is one of the hardest jobs in country music, so thank you guys. As songwriters, you are our livelihood now days,” Frasure said. “It’s amazing when outside songs find their way. For an outside song to find a way, it’s sort of a miracle and it takes a lot of these individuals.”

Frasure also made sure to thank his wife, and relish in the growing success of Rhythm House. “Rhythm House, and my lovely wife who runs our publishing company, and Vanna [Moua, Rhythm House’s Creative Assistant], we’re celebrating three years this summer. We’re celebrating our three year anniversary and every one of our writers has a single out come Monday.”

Osborne made sure to highlight the comedic moments of the event when he stepped up to the mic. The always hilarious Osborne thanked his co-writers and publishers, and the Warner Music Nashville team.

“I have to say about Michael Ray, we wrote for the first time about three years ago, and he was still kind of launching,” Osborne continued. “I went home and told my wife, ‘I want that guy to make it so bad. He is so nice, he’s working his ass off. People like that, we need them in our industry, and I just want this guy to make it so bad.’ Of course, he didn’t cut the song we wrote that day but I still wanted him to make it,” he quipped.

“I think this makes up for it!” Ray interjected.

Pictured (L-R): WSM’s Bill Cody, CAA Nashville Founder John Huie, Opry Entertainment Group’s Senior VP of Programming and Grand Ole Opry GM Sally Williams, Jesse Frasure, Michael Ray, Josh Osborne, WMN’s Executive VP of A&R Cris Lacy and Morris Higham Management’s Buffy Cooper. Photo: Chris Hollo for the Grand Ole Opry

The man of the hour was emotional when it was his turn to speak. “One thing I’ve learned in this last year is that I’m nothing without a great team,” Ray said. He started with his future wife, Carly Pearce. “During the ACMs when the team was fighting [to get the song up the charts], she was my rock and my glue and everything in my world, so thank you for being you and thank you for loving me through my crazy times, which leads me to my incredible radio team.

“Give it up for some of the hardest working people,” Ray continued. “Because if I wasn’t calling Carly on the edge, I was calling Adrian, I was calling Shari, I was calling everybody. Luke Combs had been there for so long that they changed the No. 1 slot to just say ‘Luke Combs,'” he joked.

Ray thanked his Morris Higham management team, who “Made me feel like I had a voice.” He singled out Morris Higham’s Buffy Cooper, Essential Broadcast Media’s Ebie McFarland, Warner Music Nashville’s Wes Vause, CAA’s Aaron Tannenbaum, his band and his road crew.

“It all starts with a song.” Ray continued. “And best song wins in my book, whether I write or not. We have the best songwriters in the world here in Nashville. It means the world to me that I get to be a part of a song that Jesse and Josh and Matt and Trevor wrote. It means the world to me that they trusted me when they could have sent it to anybody else.

“I am very fortunate to be on stage and to see the gratification every night of a lot of people’s hard work,” Ray concluded. “So thank you guys for working hard for me. Thank you for working hard for other artists.”


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LB Rogers is Project Manager at MusicRow magazine. She heads up specific, large-scale projects for the company and assists in day-to-day tasks. LB also manages the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart and contributes editorial for both the print and online platforms. She joined MusicRow full time in January of 2019, after interning and working part time for the company for a year. She is from Blairsville, Georgia and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Music Business degree in 2018.

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