"The Next: Fame Is at Your Doorstep" wrapped up its inaugural season on Thursday, October 4. When the show opened that night, Michael Ray had secured a spot in the grand finale. Five other contestants performed to compete for the two places left, which eventually went to Iliana Incandela and Jordan Baird.
Representing their own cities, the three finalists took it to Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles for their last performances on the show. Michael, who was discovered in Orlando and mentored by John Rich, sang "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" by Jake Owen and he nailed it.
Gloria Estefan's protege Iliana of Glenview did a cover of Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow". The mentors thought it was a gamble, but they were still impressed by the performance. Jordan from Gainesville, meanwhile, wowed his mentor Joe Jonas with his rendition of "So Sick" by Ne-Yo.
The mentors catered the audience with their collaborative performance of "Tell Me Something Good" before it was revealed that Michael won the competition. "You earned it, buddy," said John as he hugged the 24-year-old country music singer. "You deserve to be a big deal."
"I thank God... the fans, my dad, my grandpa, my grandmother," Michael stated as he scored a recording contract from Atlantic Records. He went on describing John as family. Praising the "Lost in This Moment" hitmaker, the aspiring singer previously said, "He is so smart when it comes to country music and the business side."
The future of "The Next" is still in the bubble as The CW hasn't announced whether to renew it or cancel it. The show itself didn't generate big ratings for the network.