The story begins like so many other singers - singing at family gatherings from the time she was 8 and then cast as lead in a local production of Annie when she was 10. But it’s the path from there to now that makes Lindsey Ray’s story so quintessentially inspiring, especially with 2014 concluding with 10 song credits under her belt. Her resume encompasses composing songs for Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato, and Deana Carter, among others. In 2015, McDonald’s will be airing her new song, “I Want It All” in a commercial ad campaign.
Support, emotional support, in particular, is critical for creative talent to be developed and honed. For that Lindsey credits her late father. “When [that support] came to me, he did everything in his power to help me follow my dream. There is no way I could be able to live the life I live today if it hadn’t been for the sacrifices my father made for me. He inspires me every day to be the best I can be and to take this music thing as far as I can take it,” she says.
Lindsey began seriously pursuing a music career while still in high school, traveling from her home state of Maine to New York City several days a month to record and write songs. By the time she was a high school senior, she already had enough contacts, experience, and momentum that bypassing college to pursue her musical dream was an obvious decision. “I felt like going to college would force me to waste four years not pursuing my dream,” she says, “and that was time I wasn’t willing to sacrifice.”
Lindsey likens her time performing as a singer/songwriter in Maine as her own form of post-secondary education. In addition to playing with a slew of cover bands performing across a wide range of music genres, she began writing her own original songs and booking herself as a solo artist in bars and restaurants around the state. It was that kind of crash course in music theory and performance that enables her to communicate what chords she’s playing when she’s co-writing.
Lindsey’s independent study in music allowed her to focus on what mattered most to her - her early realized dream of music. “To me, pursuing your dreams is the logical path in life. If you can find something you love and figure out a way to make a living doing it, it won’t feel like work,” the musician says.
But as any artist knows, there is some element of struggle when pursuing your dream. For Lindsey, this was realized upon her discovery that achieving mainstream success as a singer requires a defined identity, a brand that establishes you as unique and fresh while simultaneously still being relatable and approachable. Early in her career, Lindsey’s sound and character, dubbed as “Lynx”, was shopped to record labels. Though she was offered a record label under this name, she ultimately opted not to sign the deal.
She credits artists Alicia Keys and India Arie who profoundly affected her ultimate decision to reject that record deal. “Seeing them succeed gave me the courage to speak up about how unhappy I was with my own sound and character. It was because of [these singers] that I realized I didn’t want to sacrifice my own artistic point of view ever again,” Lindsey says, indicating that selling out contradicted her own creative values.
Lindsey continued working the Maine music scene and eventually moved to Los Angeles, and released an EP and a first record, Goodbye from California, in 2010. Though she had success licensing music from these records to film and TV, Lindsey still felt like there was a disconnect between how she viewed herself and how her music sounded. Because of her broad range in music interests and abilities, it was a struggle to establish a distinct brand that she felt served her in an authentic way.
It was upon this realization that Lindsey began doing more song writing for other artists. And it was in this capacity that she suddenly felt totally free and unencumbered by the marketing pressures of the music industry. Instead of focusing on her brand, she could channel the freed energies to write songs in multiple music genres. In this versatility of being able to go from writing country to pop to punk rock, she found her niche in songwriting.
But it is her newest project, the band Farmdale she created with boyfriend singer/songwriter Ben Burgess, that she has started to perform as a singer again. The duo released an 11-song album in July 2014 and is wrapping up a second that will be released soon and has gotten requests for songs for various TV shows and commercials, including J.C. Penney. “It’s the most fun I’ve had songwriting in a long time, and it’s a bonus that I’m getting to work as a singer again as well,” she says.
Lindsey has come a long way from her days performing as Annie, but she still remains the same bubbly, self-confident girl she was growing up in Morrill, Maine. After living in Los Angeles for six years, Lindsey recently moved to Nashville where she says her environment feels a bit more like Maine. “I love the idea of being able to live out in the country surrounded by woods and still be in a place where I can pursue my music career,” she says. Though music will always be her light, the sources from which it’s derived will forever be changing, transforming, and evolving, just as she will be.