1 of 11Photographer: BlackIce Bell/Stylist: Marc Koger
Meet Ray Lavender
Recognize this lovely face? Sexy southerner Ray Lavender first caught our attention a few years back when his racy first single “My Girl Gotta Girlfriend” was all over the airwaves. This year, he has exploded back onto the scene with the release of two hot new singles (“Tequila” and “We Love”), a new label and a sound more sultry than ever. In anticipation for the fall release of his new self-titled album, we’re giving you a chance to get to know this heartthrob a little better. Ladies, show Ray some love!
2 of 11Photographer: BlackIce Bell/Stylist: Marc Koger
Country to the Core
“I’m a country boy at heart,” admits Lavender who was born in Monroe, Louisiana and then raised in Atlanta. “I’m one of those country boys who likes going to the barbecues and family reunions and all of that.”
3 of 11Photographer: BlackIce Bell/Stylist: Marc Koger
Hitting A High Note
Lavender credits greats like Freddie Jackson, Terence Trent D’Arby, Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway as being his musical influences.
4 of 11Photographer: BlackIce Bell/Stylist: Marc Koger
A Song For You
“When I write a song for women, I cater to them,” Lavender reveals. “I sing things that are real and I think I have a real nice way of singing it. I was really singing from the heart with ‘We Love.’ I didn’t even need a pen.”
5 of 11Photographer: BlackIce Bell/Stylist: Marc Koger
The Way to His Heart
“I’m a food connoisseur,” says Lavender, who admits to being a total foodie and an expert at making shrimp and chicken étouffée. “I can really cook.”
6 of 11Photographer: BlackIce Bell/Stylist: Marc Koger
All Around Guy
“My music is fun, sexy, worldly and global,” says Lavender. “It’s real. It’s epic. The thing about my life is that it was all over the place at one time. Everybody can relate to these records.”
7 of 11Photographer: BlackIce Bell/Stylist: Marc Koger
Lavender was one of 12 men vying for the heart of former reality TV star, and notorious tough cookie, Omarosa Stallworth on Donald Trump’s reality show The Ultimate Merger. In the end, his smooth moves and overwhelming charm won her over and he walked off the show victorious.
8 of 11Photographer: BlackIce Bell/Stylist: Marc Koger
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Lavender was signed to Akon’s Interscope Records label, but this time around he’s working with Global Artists Group, an independent label he says is giving his talent the time and attention it deserves. “The thing about losing is that you know how to win the next time,” he admits. “Things are just moving so much faster for me now and I’ve got a great team with me.”
9 of 11Photographer: BlackIce Bell/Stylist: Marc Koger
Old School Roots
When he was a little boy, Lavender would sing alone in his room trying to imitate Sam Cooke songs. One day his father once ran into the room and asked, “Is that you?” He says that’s when everyone knew he could really sing. Lavender's been singing at a professional level since he was 16 and even signed a recording deal with Elektra records at 19.
10 of 11MIchael Rowe
Up and coming R&B star Ray Lavender stops by ESSENCE.com for a meet and greet.
11 of 11Photographer: BlackIce Bell/Stylist: Marc Koger
Want to hear more from Lavender? You can download his current mixtape RNB Hustler here. In the meantime, send him some love in the comment section below.
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