Raymond Leonard Sample
Ray Sample, a tenor, arranger, and songwriter, is an independent full-time Christian music performer, primarily of traditional sacred music. He is also a singing ambassador for the Hope On Wings Foundation, an outreach program carrying the Christian message and health services to the people of Papua, New Guinea.
Ray was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, the only son of Jack and Elana Bartlett Sample. From his earliest years, he was surrounded by music, his mother being a clarinetist and pianist and his father an accomplished trumpet performer. His paternal grandfather, Vernon, was a multi-talented instrumentalist who taught music in the Pacific Northwest for over two decades.
Ray recently wrote about his "debut" as a singer and his early years in music:
I sang my first solo, according to my dad, when I was two years old. He had been asked to give special music and mom was accompanying him and didn't know what to do with me, so she ended up putting me on the piano bench with her. When they started playing, it was a song I knew, "Jesus Loves Me," so I started singing at the top of my lungs.
There was always music in our home. Many a night I remember asking them to play the piano and trumpet as my sister and I fell asleep. I was primarily a vocalist and sang all during my growing-up years in choirs and quartets. My training in those years consisted mostly of what Mom and Dad could help me with and a few pointers I was given when I briefly attended Auburn Academy. I didn't start serious study until I reached college.
After successfully passing GED examinations, Sample enrolled at Union College. Until the age of seventeen he had often sung soprano in choirs, even singing the soprano parts in a performance of the Messiah with a college level choir. When his voice began to change and deepen, he never lost his falsetto range up to a soprano high C, so that he can now not only sing as a countertenor but also as a baritone.
He attended UC for three years as a music major and then left, eager to use his talent in music ministry. He sings often at church gatherings in the U.S. and elsewhere. His mother is his accompanist and his father works as part of a music development committee on his behalf and assists in handling support details and public relations. Sample has recorded two albums, the first, A Walk with Jesus, with Vil Areola in 2006, and My Heart Sings, Volume I, in 2010.
In 2007 Sample married Crystal Benson, a singer who has performed from her earliest childhood years with her sisters and shares in his vision of music ministry. They have two sons, David Levi and Isaiah James.
Source: Information provided by Raymond Sample, August 2011; website: www.myheartsings.com; Personal Knowledge.