Foundation. A simple word, but after speaking to rising country superstar Ray Fulcher, a word that means so much more to the artist he is and the artist he wants to be. The fact is, you might not know his name now but you do know his music. And if you don’t know his name now- well, you will.
Ray has been in Nashville for 7.5 years writing songs and working towards his ultimate goal of being an artist. Over the years, he’s created some incredible friendships and relationships including with a guy that you definitely have heard of- Luke Combs. The first weekend that Ray moved to town, Luke was in town recording songs and staying on the couch of the only guy Ray knew in town. And ever since, these two have been in each other’s corners, supporting the other’s dreams and each other’s music. Ray describes his friendship with Combs by saying, “We’ve been such good friends for so long and he’s such a good friend outside of music stuff. It’s such a cool thing to have him in my corner and not just because he feels like he has to be but because he wants to be and he believes in the songs as well.” Together, Fulcher and Combs have created some incredible songs together co-writing a number of Luke’s biggest songs- songs like ‘Even Though I’m Leaving,’ ‘Does To You,’ ‘Moon Over Mexico,’ ‘Lovin’ On You,’ and the ever so popular ‘When It Rains It Pours.’
But while he’s had immense success as a songwriter, tallying over 3 billion (yes, with a B) streams as a songwriter, his ultimate goal has always been to be an artist. It’s why he moved to Nashville from Georgia. His mentality has never changed. He says, “When I came to town, I came to be an artist. Even with all the songwriting success, I still have been working so hard behind the scenes on the artist thing because that is the thing that kept me up at night thinking about. That was my dream when I moved to town. Really my mindset hasn’t changed since I moved to town, even though now the artist is getting more a spotlight than it has before.”
And in developing that artist side of Ray Fulcher, that comes with releasing music which he recently did with debut EP titled ‘Larkin Hill Mixes,’ which features 5 songs. Ray says about the project…
“Larkin Hill is a hill in Harlem, GA where I grew up- a little bitty town south of Augusta. At the bottom of it is where my house sat growing up. All of these songs have a little piece of me in each one of them. There are some lyrics and lines that are literally a tip of the cap to my life so it was important to me to have a title that reflected that.
When you move to Nashville, you’re kinda looking for who that artist you want to be. What kind of songs do you want to sing, what kind of songs do you want to write. It’s an ever-evolving process. The reason I am so excited about these 5 songs is that they are the closest I’ve ever been to true north of what I want to be as an artist. Really proud of the songwriting and the style of track and style of music. That’s something that is really important to me. Something that is authentically me.”
One of the songs on the EP is his debut single at country radio, titled ‘Girl In It.’ Country radio has responded well to the single and gave Ray a strong add date and more adds at a good pace ever since. But Ray says what is promising about the song is the fans who haven’t really heard the song and are at his shows trying to learn the words on the fly and sing along. For Ray, what made him select this song as his debut single is the juxtaposition between the lyric and the tempo. “The first verse is kinda like this guy is falling in love. The second verse he’s trying to hold on to it. And by the end he’s looking at it married going ‘you know what, I messed up.’ And I think there’s a very human element to that. And the lyric is actually deeper than the track would make it seem if you just hear it. For me, hearing that little bit deeper lyric with the track at the tempo that feels so good is something that I want to be a trademark for me as an artist. And I think this song did it as good as any one I’ve recorded. If I wanted a foundation as a first single, I want it to be something like that.”
Fresh off of playing for 35,000 fans at Luke’s alma mater, Appalachian State, Ray is set to join Combs on the What You See Is What You Get Tour which will play in some of the biggest and most historic venues across the country, including right here in Boston at the TD Garden which Ray is extremely excited for citing the history of the venue, along with the chance to also play at Madison Square Garden. And while he has the opportunities to play for these huge sold out crowds there is one show that he played earlier this summer that might be his biggest accomplishment to date- an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on June 25th. He describes the experience, “When I moved to town, that was the top of the bucket list. I love history so much and I love country music so much. I’ve always been enthralled by the Opry and what it stands for and what it is. So to be invited and go play there and then to get a standing ovation my first time- I couldn’t even draw it up to be that perfect. It’s really hard to quantify that experience and how much it means to me.”
Brick by brick, Ray Fulcher has been building his foundation. Whether it’s his years growing up at the base of Larkin Hill or his days at UGA supporting his Dawgs or the fateful meeting of a stranger sleeping on a couch to writing smash hits with that stranger and now touring with that stranger turned friend- all of these pieces are part of Ray’s growing foundation of an artist. And with his talent and strength of that foundation, Ray Fulcher is set to be a structure that can hold up to any hurricane.