A whole lot of talent and a name you need to know.
It’s a been a big couple of days for Luke Combs and his team with the release of his debut album This One’s For You. It’s also a big week for the songwriters behind the record. They’ve been waiting for this just as long as we have. The album is still currently number one on the iTunes country charts and number two all genre, where it’s been holding strong since releasing last Friday. Luke co-wrote all of the tracks but there is a stand out artist because of how many songs he was a co-writer on. His name is Ray Fulcher and he had a hand in penning over half of the album, eight of the twelve songs. If you aren’t familiar with how the song writing process works, just know it’s not every day or every album that one writer is a co-writer on that many songs on one project.
Ray in the studio with Luke, Ben Ratliff, and Rob Williford on the first day of recording for This One’s For You, March 2016
Ray and Luke met back in 2014 and became fast friends thanks to their mutual love of hunting, the outdoors and of course their similar taste in music. I’ve spent some time with them and the way they cut up as best buds is a great example of musicians supporting each other. In case you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting or hearing singer/songwriter Ray Fulcher before, let me introduce you. Ray hails from small town Harlem, Georgia but has called Nashville home since 2014. He attended the University of Georgia and got his masters there in education while also working for the UGA football team. Ray thought he was going to be a teacher but God had another plan for him. “I’ve always loved music growing up and my dad would always have country radio playing. Later on is 2005 I saw Eric Church play at the Georgia Theatre. I knew music was what I wanted to do while being in that moment of hearing Eric play “Lightning”. I needed to write songs that made people feel something,” Ray told me.
Ray finally made took the leap of faith and moved out to Music City in 2014. He arrived right around the same time as Luke and actually moved to town the same day as pal Jon Langston. “ I didn’t have a blueprint of what to do. I played shows every weekend, wrote with whoever. I went to Tin Roof and bars around town and started networking. I learned a lot about writing with a lot of different people and different writing styles and I just made it work. I got my publishing deal last year and have been hitting the road hard.” Ray is a “road warrior” meaning and his band pack up and hit the road every weekend to play shows across the Southeast and are soon going to venture further out.
Ray, Luke, and Lynn Oliver-Cline, owner of River House Artists on Ray’s publishing deal signing day, June 2016
When I asked Ray about being a major player in the making of Luke’s album he said “What’s crazy is that we wrote most of these songs two years ago. We didn’t sit down to write Luke’s record, we sat down to write songs we’d be proud of. We were just us. Two years later they end up on his record. He and I, from the first time we wrote hit it off because we have the same sense of humor. Eric is a huge influence on both of us and it clicked. He’s very smart, lyrically and all that. More so than he gets credit for. It’s his record, but it feels like it’s mine too in a way since we did so many of those songs together. It’s very surreal to see it go full circle. It’s rewarding to see it all pay off.” Ray was a writer on track one “Out There” (with Luke Combs, James McNair, Jacob Bryant), track two “Memories Are Made Of (with Luke Combs and Cody Webb), track four “Beer Can” (with Luke Combs and James McNair), track eight “When It Rains It Pours” (with Luke Combs and Jordan Walker), track nine “This One’s For You” (with Luke Combs and Pat Cooper), “Be Careful What You Wish For (with Luke Combs and Rob Crosby), track eleven “I Got Away With You” (with Luke Combs and Tyler Reeve), and track twelve “Honky Tonk Highway (with Luke Combs and Rob Crosby). Watch a video of Ray singing “I Got Away With You” below.
It’s a very exciting time for Ray and everyone involved in Luke’s record. This group of writers are watching their hard work be recognized. As for what is coming next for Ray he says he and Luke continue to write and he also is working on songs for other artists, writing multiple times a week. He’s working on releasing new music in early 2018 and will be touring heavily this fall. He’s also got some big news to come that he’ll announce as soon as he can. Congratulations to Ray, Luke, and everyone involved in one of the best records to hit country music in quite some time.
Big things are going to continue to come Ray’s way. Check out his music on iTunes here and follow him on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with his show schedule.