In the sunny seaside town of Hermosa Beach, California, Ray Brown led a double life. By day, he managed a busy shoe store, ensuring customers found the perfect fit. But his true passion was music. After securing an investor to fund essential music gear, Ray threw himself into mastering the equipment while juggling his job at the store.

Ray’s big break came when his friend in Hollywood mentioned a producer from Arizona managing a group called “Four Boys and a Babe.” This group, known for their success on “Star Search,” needed an LA-based producer. Ray eagerly sent over a demo, but the feedback was mixed. They liked his work but wanted a different style. Not one to be easily discouraged, Ray sought more details and burned the midnight oil, crafting a new track that hit the mark.

Determined to make a strong impression, Ray decided to deliver the demo in person. He called his assistant manager to cover his shift at the shoe store and prepared for the journey. Opting to take the bus to LAX to avoid parking fees, Ray found himself waiting at a bus stop in the early morning darkness. Suddenly, a man approached, arguing with an unseen entity. The man paused and said, “Do you know the buses don’t run this early?” before continuing his tirade. Ray realized he would have missed his flight if he waited for the bus.

Ray found a payphone and called for a taxi, only to discover that taxis didn’t pick up from phone booths. Undeterred, he walked until he spotted a cab at a nearby donut shop. Explaining his plight, Ray convinced the driver to take him to the airport. As they sped towards LAX, everything seemed smooth until they encountered a massive traffic accident, bringing cars to a standstill. Ray’s heart raced; missing the flight was not an option. He suggested an alternate route, and the driver obliged. Maneuvering through side streets, they finally reached the airport just in time. Ray sprinted through the terminal, catching his flight by the skin of his teeth.

In Arizona, Ray was met by the studio owner, who was impressed by his persistence. They listened to the track together, and the owner loved it. However, the final decision rested with the parents of the young performers. After a tense wait, the parents offered Ray a contract worth $50,000, with a 25% advance. Despite his excitement, something told Ray to hold off on taking the money immediately. He asked for time to consider the offer, promising to get back to them by Monday.

Back in LA, Ray couldn’t shake the feeling that he had made the right choice. When he called on Monday to accept the deal, the studio owner revealed a surprising truth. Declining the advance had been a test of character. Had Ray taken the money, they wouldn’t have let him leave with it. This validation reinforced Ray’s belief in trusting his instincts.

In the music world, Ray didn’t go by Ray Brown. Instead, he honored his step-grandfather, Valentine, by adopting the name Rae Valentine. It was a promise he had made to his step-grandfather—if he ever made it in music, he would carry the name Valentine.

Farm Aid Concert: Rae Valentine, Rae’s uncle Clyde Brown, Rae’s father Harold Brown, Willie Nelson

This pivotal moment marked the beginning of Rae Valentine’s full-time career in music. No longer tied to the shoe store, Ray dove headfirst into producing, fully embracing his creative path. His journey from managing a shoe store to becoming a recognized music producer is a testament to perseverance, intuition, and the courage to take leaps of faith.

Ray’s story reminds us that the biggest leaps of faith often lead to the most significant rewards. Keep believing, stay persistent, and always trust your instincts. Your breakthrough is just around the corner.

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