Ray Lavender
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Ray Lavender

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Nov
01
Ray Lavender @ TBA

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

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Everybody wants to talk about how Hip-Hop took permanent residence down South (particularly in Atlanta). Artists from Young Jeezy to T.I. have shown nothing but Southern Hospitality to their new houseguest.

Outkast (whether they’re together or a part) are still a major factor, while Ludacris cut his braids off and won a Grammy on his way to following Will Smith’s blueprint for success. There’s no question that the Hip-Hop being performed Hot-Lanta will be around for a long time regardless if people approve of it or not.

But while the people of A-Town are “stomping,” “snapping,” and just plain out partying like rock stars—there might be a few inhabitants that may want to slow it down some (believe it or not). So for those that prefer the more mellow and smoother side of things, they can turn their attention to Ray Lavender.

His name will strike you as not having a Hip-Hop edge to it, and that’s because he’s not Hip-Hop, he’s Akon’s newest secret weapon in the world of R&B. The chisel-faced soft-spoken native of Atlanta by way of Louisiana has come a long way since his days of delivering pizzas and singing in the back room where he and co-workers flipped pizza dough. He’s the voice behind the hit single ‘My Girl Gotta Girlfriend’ (AKA every man’s fantasy) and now ‘Stay.’ A chance meeting with Akon ten years ago landed him the present day opportunity to spread is brand of soul to a wider audience. And with his debut album, X-Rayted set to be released this summer, it’ll probably be the first time that Atlanta had a leisurely tempo that’s still able to get fast time results.

So how did you first get into singing? Do you come from a musical background?

You know what’s funny? I’m the only person in my family that sings. I’m the only one that sings like this. They found out when I was about 4-years-old, and my mom put me in a [church] choir. So it all started from there, and I just felt like I wanted to be the next guy.

Speaking about being the next guy, how do you feel about the R&B talent pool? Do you think its pretty deep or shallow?

To me R&B hasn’t gone anywhere, and we’re still here. It’s just that we’re trying to innovate it a little bit. R&B is one of those things that can’t be changed too much. We’re still here—we got the “Chris Brown’s,” we got the “J. Holiday’s,” and the “Trey Songz.” I can even go to Tank, he’s one of the older ones, but he still got the soulful feel and also Jaheim. It’s just that Hip-Hop is coming and taking the world by storm a little bit, but I feel like R&B is well occupied.

How did you first hook up with Akon?

I met Akon back in 1997. I was working at this local Pizza Hut as the delivery driver, and I was always singing while working. So one of the guys that worked with me heard me singing and he was like, “Yo you can sing man!” Then he asked if I was doing anything with it, and I told him that I was trying, but it’s really hard. Then he told me he knew a guy that was a producer, and he gave me his number. Then I called the guy up, and when he answered the phone, he told me to meet him at this certain studio.

So when I went to the studio, I knocked on the door, and Akon opened the door. But back then, it was just regular old “Akon,” nobody knew who he was. Then he let me hear some of his tracks, and I fell in love with the tracks and then I sang for him. He was like, “Yo!” “You’re the next one!” And this was back in ’97, so that goes to show you how long I’ve been going at it. So I stayed loyal to Akon, and I just stayed down with him. And we’ve been working with each other ever since.

What are some of the things you’ve learned from him?

When I learnt from ‘Kon is to keep things simple; you know what I’m saying? Don’t try to do too much on a song, and make sure the songs that you do are really catchy. He also taught me to make sure that my hooks are great—if you have a great hook, then you have a great song. Also that when I’m on the road to play it safe, and don’t try to rough up anybody that comes on stage. Just to take it safe.

Do you feel any pressure to perform well since you have someone like Akon backing you?

You know what? Not to brag or feel extra confident, but I know where we come from and the caliber of music we produce. So they’re expecting great things out of me, because I work and he’s one of the people that I study. So you’re going to get if not the same, then better music, because I’m always trying to out do the last song that I did. Just like the first record I did, ‘My Girl Gotta A Girlfriend’ and now I have ‘Stay.’ That was such an incredible experience, and you wouldn’t know that it’s the same guy who sang ‘My Girl Gotta Girlfriend.’ I do that just to keep myself innovative because I want to be compared to the greatest. I’m going to try my best to produce great music. So no, it doesn’t bother me to be signed under a great artist, because that makes me want to get better.

But I’ve heard a lot of artists s - www.sixshot.com


Over the years, Atlanta has introduced more than its fair share of artists into the spotlight. However, it is safe to say that there have been none quite like Ray Lavender. From the A by way of Monroe, Louisiana, this country crooner has finally surfaced for the masses with his sexy, bold, and enticingly edgy sound.

It was a chance meeting with Atlanta businessman Andrew Bryant that changed Mr. Lavender’s life forever. At the time Ray was in a group called Collabo. Meeting Bryant built momentum toward the path of a solo career and eventually saw Ray working with the likes of Teddy Riley, Jazze Pha, and Dallas Austin to name a few. However, it was his introduction to then up and comer Akon that blew the doors to his future wide open. Ray became the first act signed to Akon’s joint venture with Geffen, Kon Live Records.

So what is it exactly that makes Ray Lavender different from the laundry lists of artists from Atlanta? Perhaps it is his willingness to be different by being real, as he weaves his musical tales directly from his life experiences. With his first single “My Girl’s Got a Girlfriend” based on a true story and his debut album titled X-Rayted, Ray Lavender may be the new sexy that R&B is looking for.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: Last time we were supposed to talk you had to postpone. Why was that?

Ray Lavender: I had a baby, a little boy.

AHHA: Congratulations! Tell me about your path in this industry. How did you end up in this building (Geffen/Universal)?

Ray: I’m from Monroe, Louisiana originally. My father moved our family to Atlanta for better job opportunities. It just was a coincidence that the music industry was popping there at that time. Once I got there, it was kind of hard to get noticed, because Usher, Monica, Babyface, TLC – they were making too much damn noise! [laughs] It was kind of hard in the beginning. I had to wait my turn. So I was entering talent shows. Then one day this guy saw me, and he told me that he had somebody he wanted me to meet. It turns out the guy he wanted me to meet was Akon. When I heard his music, there was nothing out there touching what he had. Then he heard me sing, then immediately we clicked. We formed a brotherhood, and he told me that when he gets his record label deal he wants to sign me. A lot of people had told me this in the past, but I really believed him.

AHHA: So is that where your fairy tale began?

Ray: Not exactly. Right after this, Akon got locked up. Kinda left me high and dry. I’m like what the hell am I going to do now? So I started working with Teddy Riley. That was a milestone in my life. I was like I’m going to go ahead and work with Teddy Riley so as soon as my brother [Akon] gets out, I go to him. I just knew I was going to be big by the time he got out. [laughs] I wasn’t big when he got out. So he got, and he already had a situation already ‘cause he was signed to Elektra.

AHHA: Did you think that now that Akon was out and had his new situation that he would forget about you?

Ray: No ‘cause as soon as he got out he was like, “Ray, I got you.” He was like, “I got this movement I’m about to start – Konvict music.” One thing that Akon knows how to do well is turn negatives into positives. So it took him about two years to pop. Then he took T-Pain. He told me to hold on for a minute. “Let me show you how I can do it. I just want you to watch us.” Which was cool ‘cause it gave me time to do my album. Then finally he let the building hear my songs, and they went crazy.

AHHA: So was music something you always wanted to do?

Ray: I always wanted to sing, since I was a little boy. My parents had me in basketball. I can ball my butt off. I went to Life College for basketball. I could have went to any college in Georgia for basketball but I went to Life cause I knew that eventually I wasn’t going to be playing basketball. I ended up only being there for about a year and half. I quit to do music.

AHHA: So with all these experiences, who would you say Ray Lavender is today?

Ray: I’m a well-rounded determined, hardworker. I love beautiful music. I am music.

AHHA: Who is Ray Lavender the artist? Is he any different from Ray Lavender the person?

Ray: [There’s] so much to that. See, I’m a person who deals in reality. So with that, I’m an artist that deals in reality. I’m a realist. Like Tupac was a realist. Biggie, we loved his stories, but Tupac was a realist.

AHHA: Give me an example of what you mean when you say you are an artist that deals in reality.

Ray: For example. I don’t drink or smoke. So you are not going to hear anything in my music about drinking or smoking. I say what I do. Akon wrote a part in one of my songs that mentioned something about Patron and I was just like, “Why am I gonna say that?”

AHHA: Is there a reason why you don’t smoke or drink?

Ray: You know what? All my uncles growing up were drinkers. All of them smoked. All my friends smoke weed. And just watching the - www.allhiphop.com


Discography

My Girl Gotta Girlfriend (Remix) ft. Fabolous & Red
Put It Down ft. T-Pain
Shawty Got Me
Pop My Collar ft. T-Pain
Stay
Against The Grain ft. Akon

Photos

Bio

Over the years, Atlanta, Georgia has introduced its fair share of music superstars to the world. And with the introduction of Ray Lavender, that tradition will undoubtedly continue.

Coming to Atlanta by way of Monroe, Louisiana, Konvict Musik artist Ray is poised to become one of music’s’ brightest young stars with his sensual yet hard-edged brand of R&B.

Growing up, Ray admired a wide array of artist; Fred Hammond, Shirley Murdock, and Prince, just to name a few. But it was R. Kelly who truly inspired Ray to pursue his passion. “His tribulations sounded like my tribulations. He inspired me to write, sing, and become a hard working young man”. This work ethic has stayed with Ray to this day and has only grown as he is equally passionate about songwriting as he is about singing.

It all started with a business-man walking into a session in progress of a group called COLLABO at a studio in Atlanta, and being blown away by the lead singer, which happened to be RAY LAVENDER. It was only a matter of time before Ray stood out as a solo artist and the music industry heavyweights would begin to take notice. After performing on Soul Train, his tireless pursuit of success gained him the respect of the industry's top of producers including Jazze Pha, Dallas Austin, Teddy Riley and Tricky Stewart. It also gave the world the first peek at his work as he wrote the song knock, Knock, Knock for Gerald Levert's A Stroke of Genius album. In addition, Ray has already worked on upcoming projects with LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes. Although Ray had options to pursue, he decided to reach out to prominent musician, Akon. There was an instant chemistry between the two and Ray was immediately signed as the first act to Akon's Kon Live Distribution joint venture with Geffen/Interscope. Ray recorded his album under the creative mastery of the multi-platinum selling producer/artist Akon. Though his peers in the industry serve as a major motivator, it is from his life that Ray draws his greatest inspiration.

Coming from a large family of music lovers, Ray was destined for the stage, and the untimely loss of his father motivated him to make a difference, not only for himself but his family.

The other inspiration for this handsome talent was the ladies of course. Handsome looks, along with a sweet Southern drawl have made him a ladies man for, many years now. “I do know I have always been good with the ladies...Just kidding, but I can be a handsome fellow at times”, Ray says with a smile and a laugh. With hit singles “MY GIRL GOTTA GIRLFRIEND”, “PUT IT DOWN” featuring T-Pain, & “STAY” - (produced by Tank), Ray’s debut self-titled album assures to reflect all the things women dream to hear, in the way that men have always wanted to say, but couldn't find the words, in classic fashion & edgy expression. Ray has delivered that and more with his masterpiece song collection that makes up the “RAY LAVENDER” album due 2010.