People of OU: Singer-songwriter Audrey Ray talks sound, style and performing


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Local singer-songwriter and OU alumna Audrey Ray talks her blooming career in country music.

Music has always been an instrumental (pun intended) part in local country singer-songwriter Audrey Ray’s life. Now, she’s performed all around Michigan, released songs of her own and is making a name for herself in the music industry.

From a young age, country music was playing in Ray’s house — she has family from Tennessee, and her dad was even in a southern rock band. Ray started taking piano lessons in her Michigan hometown, Milford, at Milford Music. Her love for music took off from there as she began to sing and teach herself acoustic guitar.

“Around highschool I was doing concerts in coffee shops around my hometown — knocking on doors, taking no for an answer, and I always did acoustic shows that way,” Ray said. “Then I formed a band and just played shows wherever they let me before I was even 21.”

Ray’s first song, “Reckless,” came out in 2012,  a year before she graduated from Oakland University with a Journalism degree — which was the first song she wrote as an independent artist, and also her first song to play on country radio at 99.5 WCID. Ray detailed how “Reckless” was her anthem as she was going through the ups and downs of life, and trying to get out of where she was to be something bigger and better.

“[“Reckless”] resonates with me still,” she said. “The lyric in the song is ‘I think it’s time for me to shake hands with the bright lights,’ so for me that meant ‘I’m gonna do this, and do it my way.’”

Since then, Ray has released a plethora of other songs, most recently “Temporary Fix” in August 2021.

The inspiration behind the tune stemmed from a fun night Ray had with her cousin — playing board games over some glasses of wine — where the phrase “temporary fix” felt like a seamless ode to many aspects of life: relationships, past experiences, etc. Once she journaled about the idea and took it to Record Producer Tim Patalan, the song came to fruition.

Like songwriting, when it comes to performing, Ray is no stranger. Last summer, she opened up for Grammy winner and Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee Travis Tritt at the Genesee County Fair.

In Michigan, Ray’s favorite place she’s performed is the Royal Oak Music Theater, where she opened for Uncle Kracker in front of 3,000 people.

“Having that opportunity — I’ll never forget that. Looking back at those pictures just blows my mind.” 

Ray talked more about her pre-performance routine saying, “usually when I’m getting ready for a show — doing makeup or hair — I have a minute to just sit and relax. I always listen to music — I’ll play Miranda Lambert or my favorite girl country artist at the time and just decompress.”

Talking about Ray’s music idols, she mentioned a wide variety of icons, including Jewel, Patty Griffin and Johnny Cash. Her dream collaboration would be with Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood or Dolly Parton.

As someone who didn’t take a conventional path post-graduation, Ray’s mindset is extremely inspiring. She values hard work and following your passions.

“Any job or career comes with hard work, drive and initiative. There’s times where you do want to give up, but there’s so much beauty [in picking yourself up]. I’ve always found being organic, and staying true to who you are really shows. No matter what you do, your heart will show you and guide you the way.”

To keep up with Audrey Ray and her work, visit her website or check out her music on Spotify. You can also follow her on Instagram at @audrey_ray.