As many enjoyed New Year's festivities, 2019 started off more solemnly for Michael Ray and his family: The country star announced on Jan. 1, 2019, that his grandmother has died. Ray posted a video of himself singing Merle Haggard's "If I Could Only Fly," which came out in 2000 and is included on the country legend's 50th and last studio album, also called If I Could Only Fly.

"This old @merlehaggardofficial song cameo my mind this morning when I got the call," Ray explained in the caption of his post. "You were always in the crowd for me, so I felt the need to play it for you. I love you Granny."

The singer also included a brief tribute to his grandmother's strength and character, adding that he was thankful that she got a chance to meet his fiancee, fellow country artist Carly Pearce.

"I'm so glad God gave me you as a grandmother," Ray writes. "You were the definition of strong, independent, hard working, god-fearing, family woman. I'm so glad Carly got to meet you. She reminds me a lot of you in some ways."

For her part, Pearce responded to Ray's tribute with words of support. "I am so very thankful I got to meet her," Pearce replied. "As we walk through life together, we will honor and keep her alive. You gained a guardian angel today. Love you."

Ray has long focused on honoring his family heritage. The singer comes from a long line of musicians and music lovers, and his grandparents were some of his biggest early supporters when he decided to pursue music. In fact, his sophomore album, Amos, takes its name from his grandfather. Now, he says, his grandparents are finally reunited.

"Pls watch over us," Ray wrote at the conclusion of his tribute post. "It's not easy letting you go, but I know because you raised us and taught us about God and Heaven that you're without pain and with papa AMOS."

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