Born in Monroe, LA, Ray Lavender (or Ray-L, though he has also gone by L.A. Ray, RayBlack, and Earl Ray) knew from early on that he wanted to be a star. His family moved to Atlanta when Ray was only eight years old to provide more opportunities for him to accomplish this. After a few years of performing in local talent shows the young singer was noticed by a man named Andrew Bryant, who realized Lavender’s talent and worked on developing him. When Lavender was in high school his father died, prompting his family to move to rural Georgia, and though obviously distraught, he continued singing, eventually joining up with a classmate. It was through this friend that Lavender was introduced to Akon, the singer/producer who eventually signed him to his Geffen imprint, Kon Live Records. After practicing his chops performing with the Senegalese-American on his opening slot for Gwen Stefani’s 2007 summer tour (before Akon was kicked off following his inappropriate dancing with an underage audience member during a show of his in Trinidad), Ray Lavender released his debut album, X-Rayted, which featured the singles “My Girl’s Gotta Girlfriend” and “Donkey Kong,” later that year.