Michael Ray Wins CW’s “The Next”

Singer Wins Atlantic Records contract and John Rich says, “You earned it, buddy!”
Singer Wins Atlantic Records contract and John Rich says, “You earned it, buddy!”

The battle is over, the fan votes are in, and Michael Ray has emerged as the winner of  THE NEXT, the CW Network singing competition which premiered in August and travelled across the country with stops in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, Los Angeles, and New York in search of undiscovered artists on the brink of stardom.

The 24-year-old singer/songwriter knew by the ripe age of 16 that he wanted to pursue a career in music. Growing up in central Florida on 10 acres of land with his entire family living on the property, Ray recalls being onstage with the family band as a toddler.


“First and foremost,” Ray says, “I have to thank my family for the support and encouragement that drives me. I am so grateful to John Rich for his guidance and the confidence he instilled in me, and to the fans for voting. I’m just so overwhelmed.”

The finalists from each city converged on Los Angeles to compete for the grand prize, a recording contract with Atlantic Records and the opportunity to open for one of the music industry superstars who served as mentors in the competition. Pop stars Gloria Estefan and Joe Jonas, country star John Rich, and hip-hop star Nelly worked with the contestants to prepare them for musical battle. It was Rich who mentored Ray, the only country artist in the competition. Finalists and the ultimate winner were decided by fan vote.

When Michael Ray was named the winner, John Rich dropped to his knees and exclaimed, “You earned it, buddy!”

Prior to the shooting of the show, Ray made the move to Nashville. No stranger to the stage, the humble artist with the energetic personality has opened for artists including Blake Shelton, Rodney Atkins, Eric Church, Luke Bryan and Darryl Worley. He is managed by Tony Conway & Jeff Bates of Ontourage Management. His agent is Brandon Mauldin of Conway Entertainment Group of Nashville.

From executive producers Dave Broome (“The Biggest Loser”), hip-hop icon Queen Latifah, and Shakim Compere, THE NEXT airs on The CW Television Network. It is produced by Raquel Productions Inc., in association with 25/7 Productions, LLC and Flavor Unit Entertainment, Inc.

THE CW TELEVISION NETWORK, a joint venture between Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corporation, made its debut on September 20, 2006 as America’s fifth broadcast network and is the only network specifically targeting viewers ages 18-34, particularly women, a demographic highly sought after by advertisers. Delivering a total of 30 hours of programming a week, The CW offers a five-night, 10-hour primetime lineup that runs Monday through Friday. In daytime, The CW broadcasts a Monday through Friday afternoon block, and a five-hour Saturday morning animation block.

Atlantic Records celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2008. Founded in New York City, the label literally grew from a one-room operation into one of the world’s preeminent music companies. Atlantic has released a string of recordings that have had a profound impact on the course of modern music, its rich history including such musical icons as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, and Led Zeppelin. The Atlantic roster today includes many of the world’s most popular recording artists, among them Bruno Mars, Jason Mraz, Matchbox Twenty, Kid Rock, B.o.B, Death Cab for Cutie, Flo Rida, Lupe Fiasco, Janelle Monáe, Shinedown, T.I., Trey Songz, Wiz Khalifa, Zac Brown Band, and many more.

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