Ray Simpson is a British based recording artist (not to be confused with his namesake from America) who started his career in Reggae music. He enjoys the rare accolade of being one of the few singer/songwriters to have applied his musical talents across multiple genres of popular music, maintaining quality as he explores.
At the age of 14 he was a founding member of the promising reggae band named Gifted. It was in this early period that his talent for singing, writing and arranging were realised. Within a year the band was auditioned, then brought to CBS recording studios in London where they recorded Ray's first composition, a song entitled 'Keep It In Your Mind'. Ray remembers pop star Kiki Dee entering in the studio, dancing to the track and predicting a bright future for the band. Although the song was never released (at 15 years old) the experience was invaluable and Gifted were off to a fine start. He spent three years in the band growing and developing his skills. After the group disbanded he became a founder member of the studio band 'Wreckless Breed', who produced and recorded a version of Keith Barrow's, 'You Know You Wanna Be Loved' for reggae star Al Campbell.
Simpson later went on to embark on a solo career whilst still writing for other artists. In time, his writing credits grew to include compositions for popular Reggae artists: Sugar Minott, Al Campbell, Barry Boom and Maxi Priest to name a few. Ray's own early Lovers Rock hits include the 1979 debut outing, 'Please Don't Walk Away', the award winning 1982 duet, 'Is It Always Gonna Be Like This' (by Raymond and Claudia) and 'Dance In Time' which was released in 1984 on his own label Vibes Corner Records.
Like many people before him Ray was inspired by the soulful sounds emanating from the USA on labels such as Tamla Motown, Atlantic Records, Philadelphia International and Stax amongst others. These acts were breaking down barriers with hits galore.
In late 1984 having signed with Island Records Ray started to actively explore soul and funk music. Sometime in 1985 on the recommendation of a sound engineer, Ray was commissioned by songwriter, producer and bandleader, Bluey (Jean - Paul Maunick of Incognito) to record vocals on a project he was producing. Once behind the mic Ray began to exercise his voice by singing a few words in the lead up to the song starting. Bluey was so impressed by his tone and delivery that he halted the session and summoned Ray to the control room where they started collaborating with immediate effect. Shortly after this encounter, Ray became a featured vocalist with Bluey's chart topping band Incognito.
Ray often cites Bluey as a mentor and brilliant musical all-rounder to whom he credits for having learnt many invaluable lessons in the art of making music. This collaboration led to Simpson landing a major recording contract with Circa/Virgin Records in 1989. His self titled debut album ' Ray Simpson' released in 92, was produced by Micheal J Powell and Dean Gant (hot after producing Anita Baker's Rapture album) and Bluey. Ray co-produced four tracks with UK keyboard whizz, Philip Linton (R.I.P). Around this time, Ray took time out to co -write, produce and duet with Caron Wheeler on the track entitled 'Enchanted' from Caron's debut album UK Blak.
Although Ray is mostly known for singing love songs, he is also known for having a healthy appetite writing message and socially conscious songs, notably, 'Marcus' (a tribute to Marcus Garvey) and ' How Can We Ease The Pain' for Maxi Priest. The latter, a duet with Beres Hammond, which earned Maxi, his first US hit.
Ray became a featured vocalist with world beaters Soul 11 Soul and penned the single, 'Pleasuredome ' another inspirational message song, lifted from the funki dreds ' Time For Change' album. The funky house remix, by Booker T, became a club anthem.
Whilst taking time out to pursue other interests Ray was inundated with calls for a speedy return. In 2012 he decided to answer this call by re-visting his reggae roots and recording the reggae album project he promised himself he'd one day release.
This album, currently untitled, is in the advanced stages of completion and will include the diverse range of styles within the reggae genre. After the pre-released version of the song Baby Baby (My Right To Love You) had been aired on local radio stations, its commercial appeal has dictated that it be the debut release of the album.
Watch this space.