Georgia-bred singer and songwriter Ray Fulcher was not brought up in a musically oriented family. In fact, he was winning big racing horses.
While receiving his Masters of Social Sciences and Education, Fulcher had high hopes to become a football coach and teacher. However, his dreams and aspirations took a sudden turn when he heard country music icon Eric Church‘s music for the very first time.
It was the early 2000s when Church captured Fulcher’s attention with his remarkable stage presence and notable play-on words in a college town concert venue. “I felt like a light bulb went off, and I was like, ‘I may never be on that stage’ or ‘nobody may never hear my songs.’ So, the next week…I went and bought a guitar,” says the rising musician during an exclusive Celeb Secrets Country interview.
To this day, Fulcher tips his rugged cowboy hat to the legendary musician that did not just inspire him to start a music career, but the man behind the strings that made him a go-getter and not just a dreamer.
Shortly after, the aspiring musician packed his bags to tackle the ten-year town. While working in the field, he started rubbing elbows with leading names in the industry – including Luke Combs.
7 years in Nashville. This is a pic from the first couple weeks and I’ve never been more scared. Glad I stuck it out. Thanks for having my back, we just getting started 🤘🏼 pic.twitter.com/fFfcU4f3fK
— Ray Fulcher (@callme_raymond) May 14, 2021
Side by side, the two produced several No. 1 hits, including “When It Rains It Pours,” “Does To Me,” featuring his idol Church, “Even Though I’m Leaving,” and “Lovin’ On You.” While working with the chart-topping artist, Fulcher slowly transitioned from songwriter to singer. Now he’s hitting the road with familiar names and receiving the opportunity to stand center stage in the historical circle at the Grand Ole Opry.
“It’s such a bucket list moment for me, and that place means the world to me. I’m such a history person and also a country music person. So, that’s kind of the mecca. I think if there’s not a hint of nerves going into it – you’re either not human, or country music doesn’t mean that much to you,” says Fulcher ahead of his Grand Ole Opry debut.
In addition to introducing his sound to individuals who respect country music’s rich history, the risk-taker that he is also released new music on the very same day and tested it out within the light wood circle. The three newly released tracks include – “Girl in It, “Way Out” and “Bucket List Beers,” which are all produced by Jonathan Singleton.
With that being said, Celeb Secrets Country sat down (virtually) with Ray to chat about his debut, his moving anthems, his upcoming tour with Luke Combs and Ashley McBryde, and what it is like to have one of country music’s hottest stars in his corner.
You can keep up with Ray Fulcher by giving him a follow on Instagram + Facebook + Spotify, and don’t forget to let us know what you think of Ray’s music by either leaving a reaction at the bottom of the post or by sending us a tweet at @CS_Country.
Celeb Secrets Country: Who is Ray Fulcher? Could you tell us about yourself?
Ray Fulcher: “I grew up in Harlem, Georgia, right outside of Augusta. I played baseball and football all the time throughout my life. Actually, fun fact – I was actually a rail racer. So I went around race-horsing for about five years, and I made the 18 and underworld finals. I always loved country music too. I was not a musical person growing up or anything. The very first song I remember hearing was ‘Ocean Front Property’ by George Strait, and I remember that thing got stuck in my head as a tiny kid, and it’s still stuck in my head. I also went to the University of Georgia and I stayed and got my Master’s degree. I was going to be a teacher and football coach until I picked up a guitar.”
Celeb Secrets Country: What inspired you to pick up that guitar?
Ray Fulcher: “I always loved country music, and I always loved music and finding new music in college. But, it was 2006, when my friends were telling me about this guy named Eric Church…He was a brand new artist at the time. He was going to come to play the Georgia theater in Athens. So, I went to the show, and I loved what he was doing with the band. I was like, ‘I’m a fan of this guy,’ but what changed the game for me was when he sent his band off the stage and played a few songs by himself. One of those songs is called ‘Lightning,’ it’s on his first record. Something about his delivery that night and the weight of those lyrics made me feel some type of way. I felt like a light bulb went off, and I was like, ‘I may never be on that stage’ or ‘nobody may never hear my songs.’ So, the next week… I went and bought a guitar.”
CSC: How would you describe yourself as a singer and songwriter?
RF: “I would say I try to be really authentic and genuine to who I am. I think who I am is someone who really cares about honesty in a song and finds a way to impact people and find ways to say things that haven’t been said before. I write a lot about the human condition, even if you don’t realize it in the song.”
RF: “I’m really confident in the music. Hopefully, I make people feel something! I love all three of them. They all have a special place in my heart. But, if I had to pick one –I would say “Girl In It.” I love the way we found different ways to kind of twist the song. It’s an up-tempo track as well. It’s just a singalong that you would roll your windows down too. For me as an artist, that kind of checks all the boxes for me.”
CSC: Which song was the hardest to write and why?
RF: “I would say “Bucket List Beers” because we wrote the first half of it about a year and a half or so before I wrote the second half. I started writing “Bucket List Beers” with Luke Combs and a couple of other guys…we didn’t really know where to go with the second verse. Then Luke’s “Beer Never Broker My Heat” came out. Then in my mind, I was like, ‘he is probably not going to put out a huge beer single again for a little while.’ So, he knew how much I loved that song, and he was like, ‘hey, if you want to work on it and do your thing with it, man, I’d love for you to do that.’
I was on tour with Matt Stell in New York, and I was on the phone with my dad. The day he retired, and while hanging up the phone, I was like, ‘there’s my second verse right there.’ As a songwriter, you just wait and give it space. Then a lot of times, eventually, it will kind of hit you. So, I went into the green room, wrote the second verse and bridge, and sent it straight to Luke.
He was like, ‘Dude…hell yeah!! That’s awesome.’ After I got to put my stamp on that song, it felt mine defectively. It took a year and a half to write it.”
CSC: Did Luke Combs give you any advice on which direction you should go in while writing in New York?
RF: “We’ve always just tried to be very genuine with ourselves. Every time I ask him, he’ll give me advice or whatever he thinks. But, he’s also the type of guy who would say, ‘man, you’re a smart dude and believe in what you’re doing. So, whatever you do, just believe in it, and I’m behind you a hundred percent.’
CSC: Out of all three tracks, which song should us fans listen to first and why?
RF: “I would say “Girl In It,” but you learn a little bit about me as you go through the three songs, and they represent a couple of different chapters in my life. So, eventually, there’s going to be a huge book of who I am.”
CSC: You mentioned a “huge book” are you hinting at an upcoming record?
RF: “I wrote a lot of songs during the pandemic, but we also recorded a lot. There will be a much bigger ”book” over the next couple of years. I’m really excited about it!”
CSC: You are about to make your Grand Ole Opry debut – how does this make you feel, and how are you preparing?
RF: “I feel really awesome heading into it! It’s such a bucket list moment for me, and that place means the world to me. I’m such a history person and also a country music person. So, that’s kind of the mecca. I think if there’s not a hint of nerves going into it – your either not human, or country music doesn’t mean that much to you. I mean, Luke Combs played the Opry over 20 times, and he even gets a little nervous going on that stage. You know… going in that circle, you hold definite weight.”
CSC: Have you chatted with anyone who has played there in the past? Did they give you any advice on how to tackle the night?
RF: “I’ve talked to Luke and Jamison and a couple of others, and they’re like, ‘hey, whatever else you’ve got going on in your life or that day, just focus. Just take a walk around and talk to people. Take a bunch of pictures and just really take in every detail, every second, and try to make a snapshot in your mind of the night.’ So, that’s what I am going to try to do.”
CSC: What will your Grand Ole Opry setlist look like?
RF:“We have three songs coming out that day. So, I will at least play a couple of those. There may be a wildcard song…I’m not sure yet. So, I have a couple of them planned out, and I might just see how I’m feeling by the end of the week and make a judgment call on that. But either way, it’s going to be stuff that people haven’t heard before. So, I’m so excited and eager about that!”
CSC: What do you hope to get out of the Grand Ole Opry experience?
RF: “Hopefully, a shot to play there again. I mean, there will be many friends and family there to watch, and it will be kind of a ‘man, hard work really paid off’ moment for all of us. I’m looking forward to just sharing and celebrating with the people who have supported me along the way.”
RF: “I’m just excited about being on an arena tour with all my best friends. Just playing with Luke is a bucket list, but getting in front of his audience will be amazing. He’s always notorious for coming in with an open ear and being willing to accept and listen. Hopefully, my time with him will help too, because we have so many songs together. Just being out there with him and getting to watch him – it’s going to be awesome. I’m also such a fan of Ashley McBryde and respect what she does so much. Everything she does or touches is just so cool. So, for her to think enough of me and to ask me means the world. I mean, I’m just so excited to get in front of her fans.”