Nevada-based singer-songwriter CJ Ray is premiering his latest EP, For Each Other. He has also announced a micro-grant initiative to go along with the release which will award 50 $100 grants to individuals nominated by their friends/family who want to recognize them for being there for them over this past year. The nominating process asks the nominator to post via social media a photo or video in celebration of the person or family who has been there for them in a meaningful way. The recipients of the “For Each Other” micro-grant will receive funds directly in August, 2021. Click here for the official micro grant process and rules.
While pursuing his desire to inspire, CJ Ray, known as Granddude to his family, brings forth his collection of lyric-centered rock, pop and contemporary music. The EP boasts visceral and heartfelt performances by the songwriter and his band and was produced by Paul Fig (System of A Down, Alice In Chains, Slipknot) and Greg Karas (Andy Grammar’s MD.) The majority of the songs were written and recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic and the social issues surrounding that time. The songwriter explores themes that include how we care for one another, appreciating the past, desiring freedom, newness and rebirth.
CJ’s reimagining of Sarah McLachlan’s ‘90s hit “Sweet Surrender” kicks off the EP. As someone who was once in a high school band with Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, it comes as no surprise his rendition of the contemporary pop diva’s hit is imbued with heavier vocals and guitars. But it’s important to note that CJ handles with care the timeless melody, essence, and pure sound of the original.
Of “Sweet Surrender,” Ray tells ABS:
As a songwriter, lyrics have always been crucial to me and when I hear a song with a powerful message, I just want to be wrapped up in it and become a part of the message. I hope my treatment of her song is received in the same way as I approached its making — with love, thankfulness and respect.
The EP’s title track features a scorching guitar solo and is inspired by the racial injustice and pain witnessed in our culture in 2020. “So many people are hurting, disenfranchised, and angry about how life has panned out for them, says CJ. “My heart prompts me to always help a fellow life traveler and ‘For Each Other’ is my heart in words. No one is an Island to themselves and we need to be there For Each Other.
“Death Valley” finds Ray raw, emotional and declaring, “I need a love that won’t forsake me.”
Up next is hard rocker “Fear Begone” — the lyrics invoking our natural world. “I am blessed to live in a place where I can be engulfed by nature after five minutes of driving,” says the songwriter. The EP closes with the sincere, acoustic “Today.” “To surrender control of our life is a scary thought for most of us,” says CJ. “We all want to maintain control because we know best what is right for us, but do we? ‘Today’ is a song about reconciling control of living with the purpose of living. It asks a profound question that every listener will be compelled to ponder, Today is the day!”
Connect with CJ Ray:
*Feature image credit: Gentle Giant