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    Kelley, Ray

    Cellist who has fashioned an enviable career as a session musician, as well as an entrepreneur. 


    In 1968, he performed on Alice Coltrane’s Reflection on Creation and Space, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, and Randy Newman’s eponymous LP.  The next year found him Working! with Bobby Jameson.  In 1971, he was one of the side men on Russ Giguere’s Hexagram 16 and Dory Previn’s Mythical Kings and Iguanas.  He then endured a Hot August Night with Neil Diamond and recorded Up in Mabel’s Room with Phil Everly, both in 1972.  In 1973, he appeared on Severin Browne’s self-titled album, Alice Coltrane’s Lord of Lords, and Judee Sill’s Heart Food. 


    He appeared on no less than six albums during America’s bicentennial year:  Alice Coltrane’s Eternity, Neil Diamond’s Beautiful Noise, Ronnie Laws’ Fever, The Tubes’ Young and Rich, Tom Waits’ Small Change, and Jennifer Warnes’ self-titled debut.  In 1977, he was in the studio with Letta Mbulu, laying down tracks for her self-titled album, Letta.  He mixed up genres again in 1978, appearing on Larry Gatlin’s Oh!  Brother, Johnny Mathis’s & Deniece Williams’ That’s What Friends Are For, and Sunset Bombers’ Sunshine Bombers.  In 1979, he appeared on Frank Sinatra’s Trilogy and recorded Femme Fatale with Gabor Szabo.  It was released two years later.  In 1983, he was part of The Clarke/Duke Project II with Stanley Clarke & George Duke, and also performed on Duke’s solo project, Guardian of the Light. 


    He was an erstwhile member of The Family on their eponymous album and helped Kenny Rogers get to the Heart of the Matter in 1985.  In 1986, he appeared on Diane Schuur’s Timeless.  Then he celebrated the Yuletide with Air Supply on The Christmas Album in 1987.  In 1988, he helped Patti Austin unveil The Real Me, shared Part of Fortune with Liz Story, and performed on the soundtrack of The Shag. 


    Around this time, Ray and wife Cheryl established Resort Music, Inc., a market-focused music company that targets CDs of Ray’s music to specific cities, such as 1991’s Palm Strings, 1993’s Oasis, 1995’s From the Heart, and 1996’s Windy City. 


    In the meantime, the session work continued to pour in, such as k.d. lang’s Drag and Marian McPartland’s Silent Pool, both released on CD in 1997.  In 1998, he appeared on Shot Full of Love with Billy Ray Cyrus, Corky with Corky Hale, and The Walls Came Down with Collin Raye.  He then performed on James Darren’s This One’s from the Heart and Les Nouvelles Aventures d’Eddy Mitchell. 


    In 2000, he appeared on the Christina Aguilera stocking stuffer, My Kind of Christmas.  A couple of years later, he performed the Christmas carol, “Away in a Manger”, arranged by Daniel Kelley, in the Morgan Freeman-Ashley Judd thriller, High Crimes.  Daniel and Ray also collaborated on 18 Traditional Christmas Favorites for Cello or Bassoon and Piano, arranged by Daniel and edited by Ray. 


    In recent years, in addition to turning out CDs with Resort Music, Inc., he has turned some of his attention to live performing.  On 14th April 2006, he performed in tandem with piano player Dennis Alexander at the Religious Science Church of the Desert in Palm Desert, California, as part of their Good Friday service.  He stayed in the holiday spirit on 24th June 2007, performing with Olivia Newton-John at Ford’s Theatre in a concert simply titled “A Holiday Celebration”, which was attended by President and Mrs. Bush.  Ray has said that performing with Newton-John was one of the best moments in his long and storied career.  On 24th February 2008, he performed with Met soprano Janet Hopkins in a gala recital at St. Paul’s Church in Palm Springs, California. 


    He was also very much in the public eye in December 2008, serving as guest lecturer at the Manhattan School of Music on 3rd December and four days later performing at St. Paul in the Desert in Palm Springs, California, in “A Service of Advent Lessons and Carols”. 


    Ray also contributes his time and talent to Palm Springs schools, sharing his stories and virtuosity as the music advisor to fifteen different schools comprising approximately 2,500 pupils. 


    He has performed with the Dallas Symphony, the L.A. Philharmonic—an early career highlight was appearing with them at Carnegie Hall—and the Utah Symphony, and occupied the first cello chair on the soundtracks of The Simpsons and Star Trek.  


    His and Cheryl’s resort music continues to thrive, with Sound on Wisconsin and Windy City becoming big sellers in their respective states. 


    His most recent project is Sky’s the Limit, a musical history of flight in the U.S.


    Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams recordings

    Emotion (Barry Gibb/Robin Gibb)

    S CBS 6164B (UK 45)



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