LAS CRUCES — Country singers Frank Ray and Bri Bagwell — born in Deming and Las Cruces, respectively, will return home to southern New Mexico in May for a three-day celebration of Cinco de Mayo downtown at AmadorLIVE.
Ray, a former Las Cruces police officer, and Bagwell have been making national headlines lately with their music and performances that have garnered public and industry attention.
Ray took the stage at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in November 2021 – known as “The Show That Made Country Music Famous”. Bagwell recently collaborated with singer Kylie Frey on Cyndi Lauper’s 1980s hit “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” giving the anthem a country twist.
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Ray, who moved his family to Nashville about a year and a half ago, said he takes success day by day.
“It’s one of those things we’ve always hoped for. We always wanted to find some kind of success in mainstream country radio,” he said. “You hope it happens, but you never really expect it because there’s a wealth of talent out there and you’re just one more artist in this big pool of artists trying to make it. So , the fact that all these amazing things are happening, I take it day by day because… I don’t know how long it’s going to be.
His first Opry performance — a major milestone in the country music industry — might prove Ray’s tough. Only two songs are allowed as there are multiple artists lined up to play each night. Ray performed his hit single “Country’d Look Good On You” along with a rendition of “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” by Freddy Fender, which he said received a standing ovation.
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“I didn’t feel right stepping into the circle and not paying homage to one of the artists that I believe helped pave the way for Hispanic artists like me in the genre,” Ray said.
The successful performance validated his career so far, he said. Ray added that along with Fender, Selena Quintanilla and Emilio Navaira were his other musical inspirations. He also named award-winning artist Lainey Wilson, known for “Things A Man Oughta Know,” as someone he would like to collaborate with in the future.
Bagwell pointed out that she and Ray have yet to collaborate, although they have known each other for a long time. She also mentioned Josh Grider — fellow Las Crucen and neighbor in her town of New Braunfels, Texas — as someone she hopes to work with.
“I’ve met people who tell me that their hometown doesn’t support me and…it blows me away because I’ve never had that. Everyone has been so great since day one,” she said.
The singer-songwriter’s duet cover with Frey was released in early February and garnered quite a bit of attention on Texas country radio, according to reports by The boot. Bagwell also has another duet coming out soon where she collaborated with her boyfriend, Paul Eason. They covered “After the Fire Is Gone” by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn.
His next solo album is in preparation and should be released in the fall. Bagwell said the 11 tracks were mostly written by her and described it as traditional country with a New Mexico “flair” and Spanish to boot.
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Ray and Bagwell each said they look forward to returning to the state and seeing family and fans again in May.
“Hometown shows are the best,” Ray said. “It’s an opportunity for us to be able to go back and represent and feel the love of everyone because I mean, that’s where we started.”
Bagwell is playing in Las Vegas, New Mexico the week before singing in Las Cruces, so she said she hopes to spend a week at home. She said audiences can expect to hear a mix of her songs and 90s country covers. A cover of Selena could also be in the lineup.
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Andele Restaurant is on both of their lists of places to visit in town. Bagwell added that in addition to visiting her family, she will stock up on green chili.
Amador Dayz will take place May 5-7 and will feature local and national artists. Ray is due to perform on May 5. Also on the bill that night are Selena’s brother, AB Quintanilla III and the Kumbia King AllStarz. Bagwell will take the stage on May 6.
Tickets, on sale at amadorlive.com, are $50 in advance or $60 at the door each night.