Billy Ray Deiz
Updated: Jul 26, 2019
Award-winning, singer-songwriter Billy Ray Deiz is no stranger to success. As a BMI songwriter, Deiz has written and published dozens of songs. In 2006, his song "Rather Have Sooner" was chosen as a finalist in the Chris Austin songwriter’s competition. Deiz performed it live at Merlefest, a popular music festival in North Carolina, where it was awarded #3 in the Nation in its category. In 2008, his Nashville-produced song "Carolina Blue" was chosen as a finalist in the UK Songwriting competition where it received one of the highest scores from the judges in the country/folk category.
Called the "Prince of Pop" Billy Ray has been singing and performing since his teens. Before the Michael Jackson era Billy was a founding member of the Seven Souls, one of L-A's stellar soul bands of the 60's and 70's and the launching pad for Bob Welch who went on to fame with Fleetwood Mac. A slice of the story also includes the Blue Pie Records released Anthology of Blues, Vol. 2 which is now for sale worldwide on most major digital outlets. The label chose “Daddy’s Comin’ Home” by Deiz as the lead single on this compilation album. The Nashville-recorded tune features George Marinelli of the Bonnie Raitt Band on lead guitar with a vocal by Deiz and backing vocals by Britt Savage.
Billy Ray Deiz is one of the featured artists on BWH Music Group's upcoming album, Keepin' It Country.
What is the name of the song you have on ‘Keepin’ It Country, Vol. One’? "Workin'"
What is the inspiration behind your song? Or what is your song about?
A chance encounter with a long-haul truck driver, while on a flight from New Orleans, led to his telling me his story. Based in Florida, he would fly to Portland, Oregon and pick up a new truck from Daimler, and then drive it to its destination across country, spending many long hours on the road, alone, and often missing Christmas as he worked to support his family. His story inspired me to write "Workin'" as a tribute to hard working Americans of all colors and genders, a song for the working man or woman.
How did you write your featured song? Or can you describe your songwriting process? I started with basic guitar chords and began playing with the time signature, settling on 3/4 waltz time as the most appropriate way to tell this story. It does seem to resonate with folks who have heard it and like it. For the recording, instrumental tracks were produced in Nashville with session musicians led by producer Cliff Goldmacher and then I sang lead vocals at Opal recording studio in Portland, Oregon.
If you could share the stage with one Country artist, who would it be?! I am a big fan of Garth Brooks and he also has a Portland musician among his band mates! Bonnie Raitt also scores high with me. I would love to perform my version of Angel from Montgomery with her. Also, her guitar player, George Marinelli is featured on a couple of my recordings.
Who are what has inspired you the most I your music career? Buddy Holly got me to want to sing and perform. I loved his songs. Then Ray Charles inspired me and I've just kept on singing and writing and performing through the years. Also Paul Simon's songs, and Aretha Franklin as a singer.
How did you first get introduced to Country music? Or what made you decide to pursue Country music? I really got into Country after performing at Merlefest in North Carolina where I was a finalist in the Chris Austin songwriting competition for my song, "Rather Have Sooner," which I performed live at the festival. For three days my wife and I toured the stages and saw some of the best Country performers in the nation, and it was thrilling to be there, with back stage passes, to catch these acts. I came back home and wrote several Country songs, though I write and perform mostly in the POP genre.
Of the songs you have written, which one was the most challenging to write and why? My latest song: "Look Out my Window--Freedom's Song!" It is soul-flavored POP, that cries out for Freedom at a time when our Country seems to be drifting toward authoritarianism and even dictatorship. I recorded it in stages, with the engineer, Kevin Hahn and I tracking layer upon layer of instruments to capture the urgency of the message....Hammond B-3 organ, electric piano, fender guitars and bass, synth horns.....all to give a foundation to my urgent vocal. Just the two of us accomplished wonders with this recording, available on my Freedom's Call EP.
Where do you live and how is the Country music scene there!? I grew up in Portland, Oregon, spent time in New York City where I was born, and later in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I was not a big fan of Country initially, but came to like it more and more through the years. I even interviewed Loretta Lynn for a music feature I did on Los Angeles TV for CBS 2 News called For the Record, and watched her perform live, and caught a spark of her great talent.
So, what’s coming up in the future? I am writing a rock musical about the life and times of Jesus, more grounded in the Gospels than was Jesus Christ Superstar. It tells the story of a teen brother and sister who discover Jesus during His ministry, quite by accident, and who become ardent disciples, despite the opposition of their wealthy father. I have been working on this project for over 20 years and the songs keep getting better and better, with new ones written just this year, to go with the originals. Songs range from gospel to rock to symphonic, even folk tunes ....with a choir in places. It rocks!
Along with Billy Ray Deiz' Song “Workin'” BWH Music Group’s Keepin' It Country, Vol. One, by Various Artists, will host an eclectic mix of 17 songs today's best Independent Country Artists and Songwriters.
Stayed tuned for the release of Keepin It Country, Vol. One, by Various Artists, just in time for Labor Day, 2019! The album will be released worldwide on CDbaby and available on all major digital outlets.
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