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Colorado Artist Spotlight: The Fray

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The Fray is a pop-rock group that made a name for itself around the globe within the span of just a few years in the 2000s. Led by Isaac Slade’s piano, power-ballad sound and songwriting, and distinctive vocals, the group eventually claiming double-platinum status in four countries and establishing a huge presence on the world stage. But the group got its humble start in Colorado, performing at events like Film on the Rocks and using early social media platforms such as MySpace to build its fan base.

The Members

The core group consists of four members: Slade, lead vocalist and pianist; Joe King, who pulls a triple as a rhythm guitarist, bass guitarist and backup vocalist; Dave Welsh, the lead guitarist and bass guitarist for in-studio recordings; and Ben Wysocki, percussionist, and drummer. These four often work alongside additional members on tours, including bass guitarist Einar Pederson.

Building the Band

The Fray marks its official beginning as 2002. However, the act’s roots can be traced back further, to when three of the four members attended the same Christian school and led the musical portions of worship services in a number of Denver churches. Several of the members enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Arts and Media, where they studied music, music business and recording. That’s also where they wrote some of their most iconic songs. The band went through a few member changes (for a time, Isaac Slade’s brother was a part) before settling on the current lineup, and each change seemed to further inspire the Fray’s instrumental chops along with its songwriting.

Early Success

The Fray might enjoy global acclaim today, but the four-man band’s earliest successes came in Denver. The act recorded the Movement EP in 2002, but it wasn’t until the production of the Reason EP that the Fray began to find a measure of local success. Despite this acknowledgment, the band still struggled to get good reviews and to have its songs played on the resident radio station, KTCL. This changed when the Fray submitted “Cable Car” (later changed to “Over My Head (Cable Car)”), the song that launched the group straight to fame.

Biggest Hits and the Rise to Fame

This band’s biggest hits were released early during its rise to fame and helped carve out a place for this pop-rock group on the ever-competitive Billboard sales and airplay charts. “How to Save a Life” was released on September 2005, and despite the initial success of “Over My Head (Cable Car),” it was this song that would become an anthem for a generation, an iconic statement of hope and perseverance. It was incorporated into an episode of the hit TV series Grey’s Anatomy, with various members of the cast singing along to the song as it was woven into the plot. The act’s next big success came in 2008 with the release of You Found Me, an award-winning track that nearly topped the How to Save a Life album in popularity.


Over the years, this band has collected its fair share of awards. Some of the most noteworthy wins:

  • Digital Album of the Year, 2006 – How to Save a Life
  • Digital Album Artist of the Year, 2006
  • New Rock Artist of the Year, 2007
  • International Work of the Year, 2010 – You Found Me

A Colorado Inspiration

Isaac Slade and other members continue to give back to Colorado through their work going back into CU Denver’s classrooms, doing seminars for high school students, working with Take Note Colorado and performing for the CMHOF at various induction events. You can visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame to learn more about other famous talents from this state, as well as check out upcoming events.

Image Credit: dwphotos