Ray Dean Reese was born in the mountains of
North Carolina on May 16, 1939, to Rev. Herbert A. Reese and
Nellie Rice Reese. From the time he was a young boy he wanted to
sing gospel music.
He sang in his first quartet when he was fourteen along with some of his friends from church. Before he could drive, his father would take him downtown to the Asheville City Auditorium where he would sweep the entire building from the previous night's event in order to gain admittance to that evening's all night gospel music concert. There was a corner balcony seat from which he could overlook the bass singers that were performing that night such as the Big Chief with the Statesmen and others.
As he grew older, Ray started to attend local singing schools with his friends Rex Nelon and London Parris. After graduating from Clyde A. Erwin High School, Ray spent several years in the US Army. Upon his return from service in Germany, he returned to Fort Jackson, SC where he became a drill sergeant.
In the mid 1960's, Ray received a call from his friend Eldridge Fox asking him to join the Kingsmen. His first tenure with the Kingsmen was in the middle sixties. He returned in the late 1960's to the quartet as they continued part time until the group went full time in the early 1970's. The Kingsmen have performed at the White House, the Grand Ole Opry and on many other prestigious stages. They are the recipients of numerous Dove Awards along with countless Singing News Fan Awards.
Ray was the recipient of the Singing News Fan Award for favorite bass in 1979 and in 1985. His voice can be heard on over 150 different albums and well over 1500 songs. In 2000, he was inducted with the Kingsmen into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.
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