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  • Writer's pictureJordan Green

Rob LaRay Is Bringing Black Boy Joy to the Music Industry

By Jordan Green | WeINSPIRE Journalist

  • LaRay says he created a new genre he calls “Take Home Music.” He strives to create music that can be taken home and reflected on for days to come.

  • Rob LaRay opened for actress and vegan food star Tabitha Brown’s Los Angeles book tour and restaurant opening.

  • The breakout star reflects on how his music focuses on social injustices towards African Americans and how to continue to move forward.

8-Minutes Read MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Attending the Grammy Awards for many music artists is a dream come true. They dress in their finest clothes, clutch their hands with acceptance speeches as they anxiously await to hear if they won in their category, and go home at the night's end, hoping to be invited back next year. Meet music artist and songwriter Rob LaRay, who similarly celebrated the Grammy Awards this year – only he did it at home. He dressed up, wrote an acceptance speech, and accepted the “Best New Artist” award at the end of the night. He did this in his living room while watching the ceremony and has decided to do it every year until he gets to attend the award show and receive it in person. So you may be wondering who Rob LaRay is. Listeners will discover that his uplifting soulful chords create music that talks about the challenges in life but leaves people feeling more hopeful and empowered for tomorrow. LaRay says he made a new genre he calls “Take Home Music.” Lyrics are meant to be intentionally catchy because the hook, melody and chorus are all simple. The goal is to have listeners be able to sing along after only a few listens. The music incites an uplifting feeling, so the person makes themselves feel better without even realizing it. “No matter the gender, age, religion, he makes music for everyone to be enjoyable,” says Darius Sneed, LaRay’s friend and producer. “If you’re human, you can enjoy it.”

Courtesy of Rob LaRay

LaRay was only a child when he knew he wanted to pursue a career in music. A Christmas concert with his church choir set his dreams in motion. “I only did the first verse and the chorus, but I remember singing ‘Go Tell It On the Mountain’, and the church was just so excited, and they were screaming my name,” says LaRay. “Then, after the performance, people were coming up to me, and I was just like, okay, I could get used to this.” LaRay started his writing journey in 2016 before releasing his first album, “Black Gold,” in 2018. Even though LaRay’s music is uplifting in tone, he tackles serious issues that the Black community faces every day, including police brutality. “People can relate to those songs, and people were in need of some inspiration, in need of some joy, especially during a tough time when we were losing a lot of black people to police brutality, and my hope was that the music could just be a remedy to some of the pain that we were feeling,” LaRay says. Sneed says LaRay has grown in many ways as an artist since they first met when they were younger. LaRay grew as a producer, a creator, and a vocalist. “He went to school to learn how to produce his own music,” Sneed says. “He’s grown tremendously.”

LaRay’s first album, “Black Gold.” Courtesy of Rob LaRay.

In 2019, LaRay did a fundraiser event for Student Dream where LaRay performed. After the event, he was asked to work full-time with the nonprofit organization as a music teacher in the after-school workshops. He partnered with Student Dream Music in 2020 as the Creative Director and lead writer for their debut album, “600 Miles to Freedom”. LaRay expressed extreme gratitude for the organization and his time spent there because it was the first year he worked full-time as a musician.

In September 2022, LaRay was the headline performer for actress and vegan food star Tabitha Brown’s National Cookbook Tour in Los Angeles. It was his first major event since moving to the west coast. He says Brown is one of his biggest supporters. It showed when Brown made sure LaRay was at the top of the list when they were lining up performers to start coming in at her vegan restaurant in Encino. “She had a conversation with a co-owner and said, ‘I think Robert should have the first show,’ and so, even that meant a lot to me,” LaRay said. LaRay stresses that even though some recording artists have stories of sleeping in their car when they couldn’t make enough money, not every person has to have that story. “Cause here's the thing,” LaRay says, “if you can get a job that can then fund the vision, the dream, the passion, I feel like that's working smarter and not harder. There's no one path to success.”

In terms of the future, Rob LaRay will release a new EP named Out of Hiding on February 24. Though his music in the past has primarily focused on the Black culture in America today, he says his new music will show a different side of him. “Yes, we're gonna talk about social injustice, but we're also gonna talk about love,” LaRay says. “We're gonna talk about the hope of falling back in love. We're gonna talk about some good food from North Carolina.” Though he is passionate about elevating social injustices towards the Black community, that is not what his entire focus will be on, incorporating a different layer to his music. Regardless of what he is writing about, be it social injustices or love, he wants to leave people feeling better about their situations. LaRay says, “I love the music that I create, but as one artist, I am not able to heal this. I'm not. I don't take on that responsibility actually. I think it's impossible. It's gonna take the entire nation and an act of God to heal the connection.” Though he did not get to walk away with that gold record player this year, LaRay plans to continue working towards his goal of one day being invited to the Grammys and walking on that stage to accept the award for “Best New Artist.”

Courtesy of Rob LaRay

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