Editors note: After interviewing Ray Fulcher in November 2020, he signed a record deal with Black River Entertainment in February 2021.
Since moving to Nashville in May 2014, Ray Fulcher has become an in-demand songwriter. The Georgia native co-wrote four No. 1 songs with Luke Combs, including the Country Music Association Awards’ 2020 Song of the Year nominee “Even Though I’m Leaving.” A five-week Billboard Country Airplay No. 1, the poignant ballad marks Fulcher’s first CMA nomination.
Fulcher recalls waking up to 75 text messages the day the CMA Awards nominations were announced and says his mind was blown at the recognition. He then canceled his co-write to soak up the day. “I took it easy that day and tried to appreciate it,” he told me.
“Over time, reflecting on it and processing it, I realize it’s a real special song the more I hear feedback from people about it,” he says. “I’ve gotten so many messages about how it’s impacted [a listeners’] life — ‘how my grandpa or my dad or my brother passed away and this song literally got me through that.’ I have so many requests to sit down and record videos of me playing the song for somebody to help with healing. It was a special song that doesn’t come around often, for me at least.”
Fulcher recently celebrated his fourth chart topper as a songwriter with Combs’ “Lovin’ on You,” a four-week No. 1. The song follows his previous No. 1 with Combs’ “Does to Me” featuring Eric Church, an artist who inspired Fulcher to pick up the guitar after he saw the country singer in concert in 2006.
“It was such a full circle moment for me,” Fulcher says of the Combs and Church collaboration. “Even him just being on it, much less being a single and then a No. 1. I actually got to meet Eric for the first time last year in the BMI Awards. I saw him coming up to me out of the corner of my eye. He walked up and was like, ‘Hey, I’m Eric.’ I was like, ‘Hey, I’m Ray. Thanks for being on that song. It means the world to me. I know you don’t know my story, but just know…’ and then he stopped me. He said, ‘Hey man, I know who you are and I’ve been seeing what you’re doing. I just want you to know it’s awesome and I’m proud of you.’ It was really cool that he did that.”
While Covid-19 has disrupted the music industry in 2020, Fulcher has seen success with two No. 1 songs and several cuts including “Better Than Me,” Riley Green’s latest collaboration with Alabama’s Randy Owen. One of his first Zoom writing sessions during the pandemic, “Better Than Me” had Fulcher and his co-writers wanting to find the silver lining in a difficult time. It’s something that Fulcher is learning himself in quarantine.
An artist in addition to writing songs for other acts, Fulcher was set to spend 2020 on the road as support on Combs’ What You See Is What You Get Tour. The trek has since been pushed back to fall 2021, allowing Fulcher more time to write and record a project of his own. Currently working with producer Jonathan Singleton, Fulcher has released two songs – “I Got It All,” penned with Morgan Wallen and Singleton, and “Love Ya Son, Go Dawgs.” The latter is the first outside song Fulcher has recorded. Written by Jordan Walker and Ben Hayslip, Fulcher says the song felt like a conversation he’d have with his own father. As football season approached, he decided to release “Love Ya Son, Go Dawgs” and it has since been featured on CBS Sports.
For more of my interview with Ray Fulcher, visit Forbes.