Official Biography (courtesy of Ray Harry)
Ray Harry was born and raised in the East New York section of Brooklyn, NYC to immigrant parents from Belize and Honduras, Central America. From a very early age the sounds of music captured his heart and since then he been on a mission to bring the music from his mind into the real world. Ray began his musical journey as an r&b and hip hop producer. He setup a make shift studio in his bedroom using a Tascam 4 track recorder, a Casio keyboard, a drum machine and a bass guitar all of which he used to record demos for the aspiring rappers and singers in his neighborhood.
Growing up in New York was a melting pot of cultures where the many musical styles of the community influenced Ray approach to creating music. Ray say his earliest musical memories came from hearing his parents play records on the old Hi Fi they kept in the living room. Listening to his parent’s playlist Ray heard a great mix of old school Latin music, soca, calypso, reggae, soul, pop and the traditional music of the Garifuna people of whom his family is descendants from. At this young age Ray keenly listened to the music that was made before his generation but he found that he immensely enjoyed hearing the sounds and was fascinated by the production and performances. Religiously he read the album credit of any album he had access to which allowed him to acquire a mental library of musicians, producers and recording studios. His mother was fond of 50’s pop music by the likes of Paul Anka and Rick Nelson. Ray father was very eclectic in his musical taste and his playlist included a mix of Latin music, early ska, calypso music by the likes of Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires as well as old school soul music by Percy Sledge and Solomon Burke but the one artist Ray found himself singing to was the music of Sam Cooke. Ray says somehow Sam Cooke music and voice appealed to me on a very deep level.
This potpourri of musical styles helped develop his approach to creating music. Growing up listening to New York City radio was a great influence on Ray musical taste. Iconic radio stations such as WBLS exposed radio to the many hit records that define the genre of r&b and soul. Ray says, “I listened to Frankie Crocker very closely and his afternoon radio show was a experience and education. What I enjoyed most about Frankie Crocker show was the mix of music he played, the playlist included r&b, soul and jazz music, which you do not hear on commercial radio nowadays. I used to go to sleep listening to Vaughn Harper “Quiet Storm “radio show. The ballads he played leaked deep into my subconscious.
I must admit during the boom box era radio was my best friend”. Other exposure to music came from his elder brothers who all had individual record collections that was well stocked with the contemporary soul of the 60’s 70’and the 80’s. His brothers played music from the great funk, jazz and disco bands. Taking a cue from his brothers Ray purchased two turntables, a mixer and developed his own collection of records that was stocked with r&b, soul, disco and funk. Ray special musical niche was culling hip hop break beats and the early hip productions from the likes of Enjoy Records and the first records that came from the legendary Def Jam Records. Ray and his friends would setup speakers on the street corner and cut and scratch break beats and hip hop records into the late evening for the community locals. Eventually he became the house music producer for several aspiring rap groups that was extremely talented but never broke through into the mainstream.
Hanging in Brooklyn, Ray discovered the sounds of reggae music by going to basement reggae parties hosted by his friends who was Jamaican. Here he became a fan of the 80’s dancehall scene. He loved the music created by the Jamaican singers and rappers whose culture paralleled its American counterpart.
Using the musical library surrounding him Ray taught himself to play several instruments. The first instrument he learned was the keyboard of which he used to compose music on his 4-track recorder. The second instrument was the bass guitar followed by the drum and then eventually the guitar which ironically although the last instrument he learned it became his favorite and is now his primary instrument. With his skills honed and ready Ray was ready to play live. He jammed with a motley crew of musicians around Brooklyn and Manhattan. The jam sessions were fun but he never could develop a band of serious musician who wanted to play his music. Being a part of the hip-hop generation finding competent young musician who could play an instrument and play it well was very rare because by now most young black men in the hood who had an interest in music chose to be a rapper or a DJ. This dilemma did not stop Ray from producing the music he wanted to play so he composed his music by himself overdub system on his 4-track recorder. The result of his solitary recording sessions was a collection of r&b, soul and funk instrumental music that reflected his eclectic approach to music. The early 4-track recordings was sub-standard but possessed many good musical ideas. Through the years Ray has kept up with the development of home recording technology to the point where he now can make professional recordings in the luxury of his personal studio.
Currently Ray is the founder of Lighthouse Music & Media Group, which is a independent media company that specializes in releasing r&b music and provides audio post production for video games and film. Lighthouse Music & Media first official release is by its founder and first artist, Ray Harry. The project is an album named “Big Time City”. On this collection of 11 songs Ray uses his vocals to sing about love and life through personal and reflective lyrics. Playing all the instruments, recording the audio and writing all the songs was quite a task but Ray says he finds it wasn’t very difficult because he had been doing it for a very long time.
Recently Ray graduated from Full Sail University and earned his Bachelors in music production. At Full Sail he gained interest in composing orchestral music for video games and film. This new musical direction is quite a departure from what he normally does but he believes it is all a part of his growth and he is always open to new challenges that push the envelope. His newfound love of orchestral music opens a new perspective to music, a way to re-invent himself and a way to create. I believe because of this avenue I am better all around musician.