Ray Hasn’t Stopped Drumming Along
Very few people find their passion as a young child but for Ray, he did just that. Born and raised in New Jersey to adoptive parents, Ray learned from an early age that his blindness would not limit him. The youngest of five siblings, Ray grew up in a loving home and was raised by parents that instilled values and encouraged him to achieve his dreams.
Born premature, Ray weighed only two pounds. It is believed the incubator he needed to survive ultimately lead to destroying Ray’s newly-developing eye cells, causing irreversible blindness.
Ray’s parents enrolled him in the Overbrook School for the Blind where he, as he puts it “started to blossom.” In addition to his regular subjects, Ray learned typing, expanded his knowledge of Braille, life skills and discovered music, specifically his love of percussion.
Following high school Ray enrolled at and ultimately earned a degree in Jazz Performance from Temple University. Since then, he has put his musical talents to use both performing and writing music. “A lot of people use their talents of painting, poetry or storytelling as a way of expression for me, it happens to be music,” says Ray. His talents and love for music are what lead to his 2004 Grammy nomination with American R&B artist Erykah Badu.
Today, Ray is the lead percussionist for the Sarasota based musical group Reverend Barry and The Funk playing everything from soul, high-energy dance to R&B music. “I would hate to be in a world without music,” adds Ray. Though blindness is typically considered a disability, it is safe to say Ray has used it as an ability.