Deep in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, is where it is said that country music stars are born.
Yet, in this case, Thurmont has produced a star of its own. Michael Gray (pictured above), a 1979 Catoctin High School graduate, is living the dream in Nashville, playing as the drummer, percussionist, and vocalist with Lee Brice (shown below on stage, left, with Gray, right). Lee Brice is an American singer/songwriter who has been churning out hits for the better part of the last decade and a half.
The group has put together an impressive history of top country songs, peaking at No. 1 in the nation five times over their careers. Their latest hit, “Rumor,” is their most recent top country song in America, reaching No. 1 in late June.
Gray now gets to tour the country, playing shows in America’s biggest cities and meeting loads of great musicians and people along the way. “I love living out of a suitcase because I get to see the entire country and the different parts of the world,” said Gray.
Most musicians get their start or inspiration to pick up an instrument as they develop their taste in music, but for Gray, drumming may have just been something he was born to do.
“It’s in my baby book: pots and pans when I was two years old,” Gray said. “At six years old, [my dad] started buying me drums, and I’ve been playing ever since.”
Gray’s affinity for drumming as a kid has lead him to a successful professional career, but it all expanded from his experience jamming around his hometown. “I was a weekend warrior in Maryland,” Gray said. “Any place in the tristate area, I played.”
When the now 50-something-year-old artist was 42 years of age, and after playing countless local shows, Gray and his wife, Dawne, took a chance and set their sights for Nashville so that Gray could advance his country music career. “When I turned 42, and my wife and I had just gotten married, I said ‘let’s go to Nashville; I think I still have some gas left in me.’”
Gray began making waves in the honky tonks on Broadway, where he eventually linked up with Lee Brice, forming the band we know today.
The group began writing and recording, and finally struck gold with its 2012 album, Hard 2 Love, which featured several top hits, including: “Hard 2 Love,” “A Woman Like You,” and “I Drive Your Truck.”
It isn’t easy making it big in Nashville. Thousands of talented musicians have filled the bars and clubs with beautiful country music, decade after decade. For Gray, Nashville has rejuvenated his drumming career. “I went to one of the hardest cities to keep a gig, and it’s the longest job I’ve ever had,” Gray said.
Since the band’s Hard 2 Love album hit the streets, nothing has slowed down. Gray and company have five No. 1 hits together as a band, with their last topping the charts for several weeks and remaining in the Top 10 for nearly a month.
Despite Gray’s successes touring around the country, he hasn’t forgotten his roots in Thurmont. Gray donated his plaque for the band’s No. 1 hit “I Don’t Dance,” released in 2014, to the Thurmont Historical Society, where it now sits with other merchandise from Gray’s career. You can find those pieces in the Edwin Jr. Room at the Creeger House.
The band returns to Gray’s home state August 22, 2019, rocking the house in the MECU Pavillion in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray’s homecoming will be met by a fleet of friends and family. “A boatload of friends and family are going to come,” he said.
Grab tickets to the 4,000-seat amphitheater soon to support your hometown rockstar.
Cover Page Photo & Stage Photo (top of page) Taken by Jenny Brewer; Other Photos are Courtesy Photos