Elvis Tribute Artists Radio

_________interview with Ray Walker

Ray sang in quartets all the way through school, from the third grade right through to college. Graduating in l957 with a degree in Speech, Music, Bible and Education, he became a teacher, a school administrator, a basketball coach, and he also worked for his local church. Over the years, in addition to being a member of the Jordanaires, Ray has also become involved in many other ventures, both in the entertainment industry, and in the community......working as a deputy sheriff helping troubled youth and their families, and, with his wife, Marilyn, providing foster care for many, many children.

Ray joined the legendary Jordanaires in l958. Formed in l948, and named after “the land of Jordan,” the Jordanaires have been going strong for over 50 years. They are in the Rockabilly, Country, and Gospel Halls of Fame, and have won a Grammy award and countless other awards. They backed Elvis for l4 years, appearing on hundreds of his records. At that time, backing musicians received no name recognition on records, but Elvis insisted that “The Jordanaires” be named on the labels of his records, as he recognized their great contribution to his recordings. They’ve also backed many, many top singers over the years such as Patsy Cline, Rick Nelson, Roy Orbison and, more recently, Vince Gill, Tanya Tucker, and the Judds.


Photo courtesy of raywalker.net

This live interview with Ray Walker, the Jordanaires’ bassman, was originally aired on the March 2001 show. In this interview, Ray tells us about himself, the Jordanaires, and their work with Elvis Presley. He also discusses Elvis tribute artists and offers some great advice to aspiring singers and entertainers.

Ray was born in Mississippi in l934, a year before Elvis. He began singing when he was very young, and by age 6 he was singing and speaking publicly in church. His father was a traveling evangelist and the family moved frequently in Ray’s early years. He graduated from high school in Florida, from college in Tennessee, and was the chaplain in his graduating year at both schools.

Although they have been a remarkably stable group, there have been a few changes over the years. The current members of the Jordanaires are Gordon Stoker (a member since l950), Ray Walker (since l958), and most recently Louis Nunley, who worked for years with the Anita Kerr singers, and Curtis Young, also known as “Mr. Harmony,” who has worked with, among others, Vince Gill, George Strait, Alan Jackson.
In this interview Ray discusses how different it is recording today as compared to recording in the ‘50's and ‘60's.

He also talks about Elvis. When asked what it was like to meet Elvis and to sing behind him, Ray says that Elvis was a very special person and that one could even feel his presence when he walked into a room. Ray says he wishes Elvis could have lived long enough to know how loved he was, not only for his music and his fame, but because he was a good and loyal friend.

The Jordanaires can be found these days touring and performing with fellow Elvis musicians and singers such as Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Millie Kirkham, The Sweet Inspirations. They have also sung behind many Elvis tribute artists in recent years. When asked if he had any advice for ETA’s, Ray gives an excellent answer. One point Ray makes is that they shouldn’t think they are Elvis but rather should try to capture the heart of the music and to communicate with their audiences...as Elvis was the greatest musical communicator ever.

You can hear Ray’s complete answers and comments in his live interview with Joanna Johnson of ETARadio. Many thanks to Ray Walker for this interview!

For more information and to check the Jordanaires’ current tour schedule, see:

Photo courtesy of raywalker.net

Photo courtesy of raywalker.net