Songbyrd and LiveNation Present
Downstairs, All Ages

DOORS: 7:00 PM // SHOW: 8:00 PM

$15 / $17



Songbyrd and LiveNation Present

Monday November 26, 2018


A sharp pang came over Arin Ray during a recording session for his debut album.

He had just finished cutting “We Ain’t Homies,” a searing record that gives a brushoff to fake friends, when he suddenly fell ill.

“I was woozy … it [messed] me up. I went home to pass out, and that’s when I got the call,” Ray said. “It was like I could feel it.”

The R&B singer-songwriter is detailing the night in April 2016 when his cousin, Laron Lovett, was murdered in their Ohio hometown of Bond Hill, a suburb of Cincinnati where the crime rate is 168% higher than the national average.

That night was a turning point for the 22-year-old. The music Ray was cutting at the time helped shape the sound he was looking for, and losing his closest confidant lighted a fire under his feet. He wasn’t just living for himself anymore.

Ray is slouched on a couch at a cannabis-themed coffee shop after going a few rounds on a nearby pool table on a day off from promoting his debut, “Platinum Fire.” The smell of java is nonexistent as the air is thick with the sweet, piney aroma of weed being smoked by shop patrons.

He’s in the middle of touring, having completed a run opening for rising R&B singer H.E.R. late last year and prepping for a string of dates with TDE’s SiR this month after playing the inaugural Smokin' Grooves Festival in Long Beach on Saturday.

Released earlier this year “Platinum Fire,” which is dedicated to Lovett, is the result of years of work by the young singer, who struggled to find his voice while writing songs for Chris Brown, Jason Derulo, K. Michelle and DJ Mustard.

“I was trying to figure out what was right for myself,” he said.

Despite his youth, he’s been hustling in the industry for the better part of the last decade.

Music is in Ray’s DNA. His father played drums for New Edition, Bell Biv DeVoe and After 7; his mother sang in a church choir and in a group.

As a child, he found his first inspiration in Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye (his aunt sang backup for the crooner), the Bee Gees, Jill Scott, Maxwell, Usher and Musiq Soulchild. Attending Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts exposed Ray to other genres, like jazz and classical music.

“I used to find an excuse to walk the halls just to stop and listen to the different sounds and instruments people were playing,” Ray said.