by Walter Price
There’s a thing in the music business where you need to be something you may or most likely are not. Marty Ray isn’t in that realm. He is a songwriter and song interpreter who publicly wears his beliefs, loves and understandings on his everyday person sleeves.
God? Yes. Love of a wide variety of sounds? Yes. Understanding of an honest approach? Yes. Marty Ray may just be the voice, with his covers that take near classics into new soulful grounds and originals that shout authenticity, the world needs now.
My happenstance introduction of Ray has kept me intrigued, his-story has converted myself and thousands of others into a fans.
I like that line in your bio, “My Momma always said when I cried as a baby, it sounded like a song,”, have you always been making music?
Marty Ray: I have always sang. It just always came natural. My mother thought I wouldn’t be able to sing after I had to have a surgery on my ear that caused me to lose 70% of my hearing but, I still could.
Memphis is a legendary music town with Stax Records, Bobby Bland, Aretha Franklin and so on calling it hometown, who were your music heroes growing up?
You left out Elvis! Lol. I grew up admiring and listening to Mahalia Jackson, Garth Brooks, Boys 2 Men, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Quite a mix but I think it’s what gave a voice that people can’t really put into a genre. People ask me what genre I am and I just say, Music.
Speaking of influences, your musical style is plural. Reggae, country, hip hop, pop etc, do you think blurring the lines between genres an easy task?
For me, it’s not something I try to do, I just sing any song the way I feel it. I feel like that’s the way God wants me to sing it, the way feel it it. It’s crazy that so many people connect me to Reggae becausec I actually had never listening to Reggae until about 2 or 3 years ago. I’ve always sang the same way though. I don’t mind the comparison but, it is funny to me.
When did you get started with The Marty Ray Project?
The Marty Ray Project came about in 2011 when I thought Marty Ray is not just country, blues, rock, gospel, or even just music for that matter but, I’m an actor, a writer, and a filmmaker as well. So I said I’m just one big project and started calling everything we do as a group Marty Ray Project. It’s an experiment as well because I’ve always wanted to see if the labels were wrong and that people would support an artist that didn’t stay within one genre but many.
Your social media is extremely good-natured. You speak to your fans with respect and as family. Do you think a lot of that sort of congeniality is missing these days in music?
I can’t speak for every artist because I haven’t experienced every artist but as for the ones I have, they seem to not show the love where it’s actually deserved. They will respect another artist but not their fans. The fans are the only reason anyone is able to make a living doing music and that should never be forgotten. I may not get to answer every person but I’m dang sure gonna try if they have a question. I’m not knocking any artist bc I’m sure if you have millions of fans it’s REAL hard and overwhelming at times but, all the fans want to see is that you tried to speak to them. I’m nowhere near millions of fans so I can’t speak on that.
Also, you seem to really care about what the people who follow you say and are going through.
Well again, I’m in music because Jesus put me in music. So I will always use it as an opportunity to pray for someone or talk to someone in a bad mindset. I wanna help people more than anything. I love people even though I do get angry at times just like anyone else. I’m not perfect, yet. Lol
The Vanilla Ice cover you did blew up and rightfully so. When did you decide the original needed a little Southern soul?
I really didn’t decide it needed anything I was just playing around one day and started singing it like that so I kept it that way whenever I would play it. I’m actually a big fan of the original so that’s why I always wanted to cover it.
Do you often hear a song or album and immediately re-imagine it?
Not usually, I’ll hear a song and want to cover it but, it always comes out different when I do.
Is there any song that you’ve been timid about giving it The Marty Ray touch?
I’m thinking about doing “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran but I don’t know if it’s played out or not. So we’ll see.
You are full DIY with your music career, what pluses and minuses have you had being fully in charge?
Well a major downfall of being alone is you have trouble keeping up with EVERYTHING, you have no one to pass any responsibility to. The plus side is you don’t have to worry about someone doing their job right.
How much fun is your family having with your music career?
Sometimes they love it sometimes it’s hectic. Lol. They love my music though, my immediate family that is. Some of my family don’t really like what I do but, that’s fine with me, to each their own.
You have a new album coming in the next few months, what can you tell me about it?
I can tell you that it’s a mixed bag of goodies. A lot of heart, message, and fun into one album. I think I might be able to cut my version of Ice Ice Baby and release it with the album as well.
What are 5 things the world should know about Marty Ray?
- I love Jesus, people, and music.
- I still have faults so if anyone ever sees one they don’t have to point it out, I already know about it.
- I used to be in phenomenal shape body wise, you sure can’t tell it now.
- I plan to write a song in every musical key and I’m off to a great start.
- I started growing a full beard for a documentary I was filming and I just never stopped growing it.
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