Born in New York City and raised in a family of musical royalty (the son of singer Ella Fitzgerald and legendary jazz bass player Ray Brown), Ray Brown, Jr. learned early to appreciate the beauty and artistry of music.
Although the primary emphasis was jazz, Ray's heart was in rock and roll and rhythm and blues. The family migrated to California where Ray studied piano at the age of 10. At 14, drums became an extended musical passion, so dad arranged for young Ray to study with Bill Douglas and later with Chuck Flores in Los Angeles. The singing drummer began playing private parties, graduating into the world of playing gigs. While attending Beverly Hills High School, Ray sang with the Mini-singers and Madrigals, who often toured the local area performing at music festivals and hospitals.
After moving to Seattle, Ray continued to sing and play drums at nightclubs while studying with drum man Bill Coleman, Sr. He also began writing and composing while traveling from club to club. "On the road is where I honed my song writing skills," says Ray. "Writing music has always been a wonderful outlet." For 15 years, Ray worked in bands and as a single artist, performing throughout the Pacific Northwest and in Canada, Alaska, Japan, Korea and Guam and doing Department of Defense tours.
"Because of my roots," says Ray, "people always assume I sing jazz or play jazz. That's what they ask when they meet me for the first time. People are surprised when I sing country or rock and roll. They do expect an experience from some rhythm and blues, and I don't mind giving into the 'real deal.' I'm fortunate I've been blessed with a versatile voice."
Ray displayed his versatile voice and other talents in 2001 with his debut album for SRI Records, "Slow Down For Love," a collection of light jazz and R&B songs composed, written and arranged by Ray that reached the top 50 of the Gavin Report. His second album, "Committed From The Heart," released in 2003, has an adult contemporary pop sound layered with R&B. Again, all tunes were composed, written and arranged by Ray. The year 2003 marked Ray's debut on the Las Vegas Strip, as he performed five nights a week in the Le Bistro Theater at the Riviera Hotel & Casino.
"In the studio, the spontaneity is there, but it's controlled," says Ray. "If it's not exactly right the first time you can go back and apply a second coat. But when it's live, it's all hanging out. It's an adventure and I love it."