Wednesday, April 15, 2020

ID'ing a Sacred Harp Singer

I have identified a Sacred Harp singer and composer, R. E. Ray, who served on J. L. White’s revision of The Sacred Harp. He composed one song that is in the book.

Ray, R. E. This singer is identified as R. E. Ray of Gwinnett County, Georgia, in The Gadsden Times, July 23, 1920. This is Robert Edward Ray, son of John P. Ray and Annie Anchors. He was born April 2, 1871 in DeKalb County, Georgia. He married Mattie M. Brown and they had at least two children. After Mattie’s death, R. E. Ray married Minnie C. [last name unknown].[i] He worked as both a farmer and cabinetmaker. Robert was a member of the Dekalb and Fulton County Sacred Harp Singing Association (later called Stone Mountain Musical Convention.) According to J. S. James, Ray had served as a secretary of the convention at some time before 1904. He served on J. L. White’s revision committees, 1909-1911. He died December 15, 1943 in Fulton County. R. E. and Mattie Ray are buried at Indian Creek Cemetery near Scottdale in DeKalb County, Georgia.

            60        Nearer Home

A Brief History of the Sacred Harp, Joseph Stephen James, Douglasville, GA: New South Book and Job Print, 1904
“Fa-So-La Notes Original,” The Gadsden Times, Friday, July 23, 1920, p. 1
“Old Time Music Heard At An All Day Singing,” The Atlanta Constitution, Monday,  August 5, 1901, p. 9
U. S. Censuses: DeKalb county, 1880; DeKalb County, 1900; DeKalb County, 1910; Gwinnett County, 1920; Fulton County, 1930; Gwinnett County, 1940

[i] Probably the widow of William J. Vincent, who died in 1911.

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