"People look at me and think rocker, but my heart is country," the singer tells PEOPLE
He won the singing competition The Next: Fame Is at Your Doorstep and scored a No. 1 hit with his catchy debut tune, “Kiss You in the Morning,” so we figured it was time for you to get better acquainted with Michael Ray.
Here are five fun things to know about the 27-year-old singer from Eustis, Florida:
His Dad is his lifeline.
“If I was ever on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and there was a pop culture question, my dad would be the dude to call. He knows everything about pop culture – it’s insane. It’s just funny because my dad is this big, tatted up biker guy with gaged ears and everything. He’s the last guy you would think would know where George Clooney is right now.”
He’s rolling in style – finally!
“I just got a tour bus. I’ve been in a van for eight years. We’ve done the United States coast to coast four times in the van and put 70,000 miles on it in six months. My bass player used to work at Chili’s and when they were renovating the Chili’s, we took some cushions and then took the back bench out of the van and stacked four cushions down so two people can lay on them. It was like a lounge. Plus it made the van smell like Chili’s!”
There’s a real country star under this “rocker” exterior.
“People ask me what kind of music I do and I say ‘country’ and they’re like, ‘What?’ People look at me and think rocker, but my heart is country. I love classic country. I love the history of it and the men and women who paved the way for us to do what I’m doing know. Country music is real stories for American people.”
He’s all country in his career, but he likes everything.
“My dad turned me on to music by Randy Travis and Keith Whitley, Tom Petty, Skynyrd and ZZ Top and my mom was listening to Boyz II Men and Michael Bolton! I grew up with a very broad realm of music.”
He hangs with an older crowd.
“I played in my grandfather’s band and spent so much time with him that all my friends were his friends. My 16th-birthday party was me, three friends my age and a whole bunch of senior citizens because that’s who I hung out with on the weekends!”
You could win tickets to a 4-night luxury cruise with Florida Georgia Line! Enter PEOPLE’s This Is How We Cruise Sweepstakes for a chance to party with the duo plus a can’t-miss lineup including Jason Derulo, Sam Hunt, Dustin Lynch and more.
Don’t miss a beat of country music news, photos and videos! Click here to get all this and more in the PEOPLE Country Newsletter.