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    Walker, Ray (16 March 1934 – Present)

    Bass singer who was born in Centreville, Mississippi, and grew up in nearby Wilkinson.  His father was a traveling preacher and they moved around a lot.  Ray made his public singing debut when he was only six years of age.  He began his recording career when he was only thirteen.  By the time he graduated from high school, he and his family had lived in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia. 

     

    The well-traveled young man matriculated to David Lipscomb College, his parents’ alma mater, in Nashville, Tennessee.  He was the chaplain in both of his schools’ senior classes.  It was just a portent of things to come.  One of his extra-curricular activities at school was singing in a quartet with a young Pat Boone.  They were good enough to warrant bookings for live performances and TV shows. 

     

    In the fall of 1954, he married his childhood sweetheart, Marilyn DuFresne. 

     

    He quit school in 1955 and went to work in a church in Centerville, Tennessee.  It was here the college dropout became the youngest ever principal in the history of the Volunteer state. 

     

    In his copious free time, he helped start up WHLP Radio. 

     

    In 1956, he went back to finish his schooling and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible, Education, Music and Speech.  The summer after graduation, he worked at the Werthan Bag Company to make ends meet, as he and Marilyn were expecting their third child.  He took up his old post in the church and went to work in the Davidson County school district as an assistant principal, coach, and teacher. 

     

    Ray’s choral director from David Lipscomb College hooked him up with The Jordanaires, who were in need of a bass singer to replace the departing Hugh Jarrett.  Later that day, he received a phone call from Gordon Stoker, the first tenor, manager and pianist of the group, and auditioned, literally, in the eleventh hour.  The next day, he was a Jordanaire.  He had to get permission from the school to let him record some sessions in Hollywood, California.  After a brief time in the movie capital, Ray went back home to honour the remainder of his teaching commitment for the year, and officially became a member of The Jordanaires on 1st June 1958.  It is a membership whose rewards he continues to reap to this day.  During his early years with the group, they famously backed Elvis Presley and appeared in his films.  The work was welcome, as by now the Walker brood had doubled from three to six. 

     

    In 1976, he moonlighted as the host of ABC’s Your Own Time.  This Renaissance man has also had a hand in modeling, commercial work, print media, and has even been a deputy sheriff.  This was all in between recording gigs, of course.  For four decades, from the ‘60s through the ‘90s, Ray and his fellow Jordanaires were in constant demand as session singers.  It is believed he recorded as many as 200 tracks in one week. 

     

    In 2005, his alma mater, which had now become David Lipscomb University, bestowed upon him their Avalon Award, presented to a graduate for their accomplishment and contribution to society.  One of those contributions is his work with foster kids, a cause he and his wife have championed since their first year of marriage.  The Walker family certainly has a big tent that includes three great-grandchildren and fifteen grandchildren.  Neither have they slowed down.  Ray is active in the church, ministering to his flock at the Waverly Church of Christ in Tennessee and leading the congregations at variegated singings in neighbouring area churches. 

     

    On top of this, he continues to perform with The Jordanaires.  He and Gordon Stoker have both been with the group since 1958.  One of their staples is the Elvis tribute concert, a tradition they began in the 1990s, keeping the King’s music alive with country singer, Ronnie McDowell.  They pay similar homage to one of their other famous collaborators in “The Original Tribute to Patsy Cline”. 

     

    Ray has been inducted, as a member of The Jordanaires, into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the North American Country Music Association International Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.jordanaires.net/RayWalker/raybio.htm
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Walker
    3. http://www.elvispresleynews.com/RayWalker.html

                 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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