From early childhood to present Ray has been immersed in the music industry. He began performing at age 5: singing, acting, and dancing in a touring family show. An instrumentalist by his early teens, Ray began writing and performing original music for audiences of all ages. Growing up in the entertainment industry gave Ray a unique perspective on multiple aspects of the business, and he uses this experience to provide a comfortable, positive, family-like atmosphere for everyone who interacts with and is a part of the Merf Music Group.
Amber Hamilton’s passion for music and the music industry began as child in her hometown of Springfield, MO, and has taken her all over the country. She has performed in venues from Denver, Colorado to Tulsa, Oklahoma to Nashville Tennessee. With a love for songwriter as well, Amber pursued a career in the publishing business with her Husband and currently works as head of creative at Merf Music Group. She also is the CEO of her own song plugging company 20 music in Nashville, TN. She credits her love of music to her father and mother and the great music of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and always looking for something new and fresh to pitch to the market place.
Matt Coles is an audio engineer and San Diego native who moved to Nashville in 2003. He began his career as an intern Sound Stage Studios and was soon hired as staff engineer at the Sound Kitchen. During that time, Matt also performed as a freelance engineer on many record projects, working with renowned music stars and major producers, including Rush, 3 Doors Down, Don Henley, Brooks and Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson, Saliva, Josh Turner, and the Backstreet Boys. Over the course of the next six years, Matt gradually began to work as a lead engineer for such artists as Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Chicago, Uncle Kracker, The Judds, Little Big Town, Bebe and Cece Winans, Valerie Mize, Sera B, Big and Rich, and Chris Cagle. Matt is currently very active in Nashville with the Merf Music Group, and as a freelance engineer.
As a writer, Billy Joe Walker has had over 100 songs recorded, including Eddie Rabbit’s No. 1 “I Wanna Dance with You” and No. 3 “B-B-B Burning Up with Love.” His catalog includes songs by Jerrod Neimann, Billy Currington, Trisha Yearwood, John Anderson, Van Zant, and Tanya Tucker.
Walker is also a renowned smooth jazz guitarist, having recorded seven instrumental albums for Geffen, MCA and Liberty Records, achieving two adult contemporary No. 1s and several top 10s.
Born and raised in West Texas, Walker taught himself to play guitar and read music at an early age. He left home at 14, honing his chops in lounge bands and country joints in Oklahoma City before moving to Los Angeles. There he worked as a session player for artists such as Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard and the Beach Boys, as well as for Beatles producer George Martin. He also performed on TV and movie soundtracks featuring Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds.
At the urging of legendary producer Jimmy Bowen, Walker moved to Nashville and began playing on the albums of country artists including Ray Charles, Hank Williams Jr., Randy Travis and the Dixie Chicks. After contributing his skills to literally hundreds of sessions which landed him in the musicians hall of fame. Walker also recorded his own albums, which naturally led to producing.
With more than three decades in the music business, Walker has witnessed many changes in the industry, but continues to prefer a traditional approach to making records. “Tracks are still cut live in Nashville and that’s a major plus,” he says. “I love recording with faces in a room, instead of stacking tracks, one guy at a time. I want to know what the music’s going to sound like before I leave the studio.”
Bobby grew up in the music business, playing piano in the Hamilton family band from the age of 8. He has made a living in music ever since. Recording artist Randy Van Warmer hired him in 1980 as his keyboardist, and they went on to collaborate on many albums and projects in Nashville, California, New York, and a tour in England with George Hamilton IV in 1993. As a composer, Bobby has written numerous scores for film, television, radio, and theatre. A seasoned recording engineer, songwriter and performer, his strengths include combining original music to lyrics and orchestrating for action and emotionally based scenes. His 13 years of experience as a music director enables him to work well in a team environment with writers, producers, musicians, and performers. Bobby is currently orchestrating music for the Merf Music Group library, film scoring, and co-writing with Nashville songwriters.
Sarah Hamilton (BMI) entered the business as a singer/dancer/actress for the 2001 Branson musical entitled “Mississippi Love”, starring hit singer-songwriter Debby Boone (‘You Light Up My Life’ 1977) & actor Jerry Van Dyke (TV sitcom ‘Coach’ 1989-97). Over the years Sarah has worked in voice over, radio ads, has been a background vocalist for various studio session projects, and has appeared in credits for Pinion Records (Clarksville, Arkansas), Aristar Productions (Tulsa, Oklahoma), and Merf Music Group (Tulsa, Oklahoma & Nashville, Tennessee). Her most recent projects include the self-titled debut album ‘Chloe Johns’ and the re-release of ‘I Found Faith’ Joyce Hamilton-Whitson. Along with being a singer/dancer/actress, Sarah is also a well-versed musician whose instruments include piano, violin, and flute. She has worked on several scores for independent film projects, and has been involved in several web-commercials and television spots airing in the South-Central Region. Sarah Hamilton has been in the industry for over ten years, and has been working alongside the members of Merf Music Group since they formed in 2008. She is currently composing music for film and television for Merf Music Group on Music Row in Nashville, TN. You can follow Sarah Hamilton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/film2score and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/film2score.