Michael Ray has earned two No. 1 hits -- "Kiss You in the Morning" and "Think a Little Less" -- from his eponymous freshman album. He's also toured with hitmakers such as Kip Moore, Sam Hunt and Darius Rucker, not to mention headlined his own treks as well. As part of a family of musicians, the Florida native is continuing a talent and a work ethic that was passed onto him by previous generations, including his dad, uncle and grandfather -- and making all of them proud with his diligence in and passion for the process.

"Even my mother, all her family, they’re [all] very positive," Ray shared with The Boot and other reporters at a recent media event. "I didn’t know until I moved to Nashville and I met friends of mine who were like, ‘My dad didn’t talk to me for a year because I didn’t want to continue the law firm' or 'didn’t want to continue the farm. I wanted to be a writer.’ I feel very fortunate to have the opposite of that.

"I didn’t really have any negative feedback," Ray continues. "I’ll say this to anybody: If you believe in your heart, and God’s put that passion in you, you’ve got to make it shine, and you’ve got to find a way to make it happen, or it’s just going to eat you up ... God puts the passion in a person for a reason. So I was very fortunate not have any naysayers."

Specifically, it was his father's influence and love of country music -- and weekly trips to Walmart's music department -- that ultimately led Ray to Nashville to become both an artist and a songwriter.

"We’d buy whoever’s CDs were out ... We’d buy them, and I’d open them immediately," shares Ray. "I’d open it up, and I’d want to see who they thanked, and I’d want to see the songs ... I’d see these guys, and I was like, ‘Man, who are these names?’ My dad would explain, ‘These are the guys -- these men and women, they’re songwriters. Some people move to town to sing, some people move to town to write songs. Some get to do both together. That’s who they are.’"

Ray will need to draw on his inherited hard work ethic as he spends time on the road this fall while working on his sophomore album. If the first single from the new set of tunes, "Get to You," is any indication, Ray's fans are about to see an entirely new side of him.

"To be able to now say I have two [No. 1 songs] is kind of mind-blowing for me. So I know how fortunate that we are, but I know what comes with that, and in the next level, you’ve got to step it up to continue the momentum, continue the train going [where] we all want it to go to," Ray muses. "I’ve grown a lot as an artist, I’ve grown a lot as a person, since the debut album, and I believe you’re going to see that in the next single. It’s different vocally; I’ve stretched. It’s not anything vocally like what’s on the first record."

It's partly because of Ray's success with "Think a Little Less" that he feels inspired to write and record the best songs he can moving forward.

"I owe it to the songwriters, I owe it to my team, to be the best that I can be and to step up to the next level that the sophomore album needs to be, and I feel like we’ve made that step," says Ray. ""Think a Little Less" solidified me in some ways as an artist. Not taking anything away or anything for granted about having a No. 1 song, but having [another] one, I told [the songwriters], ‘Thank you for not making me a one-hit wonder.’"

"Get to You" is available for download on on iTunes.

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