I Can See
Carl Ray's recent release of a countrified version of the classic “I Can See Clearly Now” serves as a breath of fresh air and hope while remaining true to the classic masterpiece originally sung by his mentor, Johnny Nash. Ray has just the Country music flair we’ve all come to love and appreciate in the tradition of great Country music and his lilting voice and clean cut image will surely steal the hearts of people of all ages globally.
Often likened to Vince Gill for his tenor appeal, Carl Ray has made a great impact on the Country music scene with his incredible talent, handsome smile, dynamic personality, hypnotic voice and incredible song writing ability.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Carl truly is a singing cowboy not a wannabe cowboy here, Carl Ray is the real deal. Even if he didn't start out in Country music, Country music found Carl and set up residence in his soul.
As a high school student, he highlighted major stages opening for such notables as The Spinners, BB King, Teddy Pendergrass, and Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes. As his musical interest developed and expanded, Ray began writing more of his own songs, and he was soon discovered by Reggae International Artist, Johnny Nash.
He eventually penned songs for Nash on Epic and London Records titled “You’re the One”, “We’ve Got Trouble”, “Sing World A Love Song” and “Baby You’re Mine”. Ray’s song “Baby I believe In You” was also recorded by jazz artist Bill Summers and Summers Heat. Ray recorded two CD’s on his own: “I Love Country Music” and “Play That Country Music Black Boy”. Interestingly, it was Ray’s relationship with Nash that led the young prodigy to develop his love for Country music.
After personally mentoring Ray for a number of years, his close friend Johnny Nash suggested to Ray that his songwriting ability of telling stories and his vocals should lead him to explore Country music as his genre. Since then, Ray has continued to wow many Country music lovers and insiders, even the most Country music diehards by his scintillating voice.
Since then he has shared billing on the main stage of the Tulsa State Fair with Wade Hayes, Hank Thompson, and Junior Brown and also performed with the Tulsa Philharmonic. He has recorded with Nash, Brook Benton, and joined forces with honky-tonk crooner David Ball. With his passion for Country music in tow, he was delighted when a chance meeting with David Ball and Wood Newton led to recording a duet with Ball. That cut, "Text Book Case (of what not to do)," which Ball wrote, is included on his new album.
With Ray’s talents being noticed and appreciated, he has been a regular at Nashville’s Fan Fair, now the CMA Festival, and he was noticed while singing at Douglas Corner by Albi Matter of Show and Music Productions from Zurich, Switzerland. Matter invited him to come and appear at their Country festival, touted as the biggest Country Music Festival in the world, and the thirty-nine day event boasts having only the best entertainers in Country music.
Carl Ray has shared the same bill with many Country stars including Marty Stuart, Pam Tillis, Jason Aldean, Wade Hayes, Mark Wills, Neal McCoy, The Del McCourry Band among others. Mentored by not only the late, great Johnny Nash, Carl Ray has also been given crucial advice from the legendary Garth Brooks who chanced upon Carl's music while purchasing a car at a local dealership. The encouragement came at a crucial time for Carl as he was feeling particularly discouraged about his chances in Country music and was actually considering giving up on his passion for the genre when he states" God provided me the push I needed through Garth Brooks' phone call".
Peace and solace are often found in the voice of Carl Ray who has never stopped believing in God, people, music, and the heart of his Country, Ray released his single expressing his beliefs in 2020, "I Stand With This Country". Ray uses his tenor appeal to express a prayer for the nation to fill itself with love, respect, and hope no matter the situation. With all his talents combined, Carl Ray laid it all on the table in this moving single.
"I Stand With This Country" is a clear message to all that God has the whole world in His hands, but we all have a role to play in changing our world and it starts with changing our hearts and minds. Released at a time of significant racial tension in the U.S. Ray states that “I Stand With This Country” is a prayer for the soul of our nation to love and respect each other".
Carl has also recently released his single, the countrified version of the song, "I Can See Clearly Now". Originally "I Can See Clearly Now" achieved success when it was released in 1972, reaching number one on the charts in the U.S. , Canada and South Africa. The one thing that Ray missed out on, was that he and Nash had agreed that they would one day record a record together, which unfortunately did not come to be.
Turning back the hands of time to fulfill this promise, Ray found the inspiration to pay homage to his musical hero after Nash’s passing in 2020 while witnessing the hardships the world has faced over the last year. Ray’s upbeat version of this classic is a true sensation that delicately weaves new life into the song.
Ray puts his whole heart into “I Can See Clearly Now” as a way to thank the person who helped him get his start in music, his mentor and friend, the late Johnny Nash. Carl has taken on another passion of his mentor, as he himself is mentoring other black artists who are interested in the Country genre.
The tune is laced with his tenor appeal which has been often compared to Nash. Ray’s rendition of “I Can See Clearly Now” single will surely become a household favorite once again, having us all singing, dancing, and looking past obstacles to dream a brand new dream for our world.
During my interview with Colin Ray he told me many personal stories such as how he prayed when he was young that he needed a better direction in his life than just partying, asking God for a "good woman" to share in his life. The answer, was a move to a city he had not contemplated before, but a job opened up for him there and the rest in history. Due to nothing short of divine guidance and intervention by God, Carl met his beautiful wife Gail Williams.
Ray now is not only a Country music star, but a co-host on “Atlanta Live” with his wife. Colin vows that none of this would have been possible without God.
It does not surprise anyone then, that Ray has just finished his first Blue Grass Gospel CD entitled "Coming Home" and in his words “It was a labor of love”. "Coming Home", was produced by Ray and Grammy Award Winner Greg Cole, who has previously worked with Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, Jeff and Sheri Easter, Darryl Singletary, and Ray Price among others.
Carl Ray's pilgrimage to Bluegrass Gospel has been a long time coming and he is excited to have several Bluegrass pickers join him such as Darrin Vincent on bass who is the brother of Rhonda Vincent, Seth Taylor on acoustic and mandolin, BJ Cherryholmes on fiddle, Josh Swift on dobro, Jesse Baker on banjo and Aaron McCune singing bass.
Rhonda Vincent , "The Queen of Bluegrass” herself, joins Carl Ray on a duet performing “The Old Rugged Cross”. Ray believes this is his best musical work because this Gospel Bluegrass compilation not only allows him to share his beloved music, but his faith and testimony with the world. Carl Ray believes if ever the world needed hope and to hear about the saving Grace of our Lord and Savior it is now.
By Deborah Gibson