Singer. Songwriter. Explosive multi-instrumentalist. Ray Goren is a true triple-threat, having grown up under the wings of blues legends and songwriting icons. Now, at 18 years old the ever-evolving musician is creating his own sound rooted in pop, hip hop, R&B, soul, and rock.
A child prodigy, Goren’s story begins in New York City, where he began listening — and playing along — to the complex jazz music of Thelonious Monk and Oscar Peterson at 5 years old. When the family moved to Los Angeles, he fell in love with the blues and shifted his focus from keyboard to the electric guitar, evoking the tone of B.B. King one minute and the powerful crunch of Stevie Ray Vaughan the next. Many of his idols became fans of Goren’s playing, offering their help and guidance to the young musician. As blues legends like Buddy Guy toured through town, they’d invite Goren to the show, where he’d join them onstage to swap solos before hanging out backstage and absorbing whatever wisdom they could offer.
Then, after meeting Leon Russell who is in both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he began focusing not only on performing music, but writing it, too. Russell and Goren became songwriting partners, with Russell serving as Goren’s mentor during the final years of his life. “Leon taught me to always write in a journal,” Ray reflects. “He told me, ‘everyday, write whatever comes into your mind, and eventually something will strike you as a great lyric idea for a song.”
“I’ll listen to Johnny Cash on Monday, then listen to Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole on Tuesday,” says the young musician. “I listen to them for the same reason: their lyrics. They’re telling stories. I love that – It’s what I do — It’s me telling my own story.” Goren sets his lyrics to a soundtrack of soulful R&B and pop/rock. There are acoustic-based songs in his mix, too — a sign that Goren, at just 18 years old, has firmly grown into the sort of songwriter who doesn’t need to hide behind his guitar skills.
There’s no mistaking Goren’s instrumental chops. He performs nearly every riff, chord, and groove on his songs, moving between lead guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. In addition his voice packs a passionate punch, thanks to a childhood spent listening to soul legends like Donny Hathaway, Amy Winehouse and Stevie Wonder, and he draws from those influences.
Goren performs solo — looping his guitar, synthesizer and drum beats into his melodies. His show is Performance Art, a look into his creative process. Mesmerized, his audience witnesses Ray building the groove until that moment of shared recognition when the song truly arrives – an amazing musical experience.