Ray McNamara grew up the Chicago area as one of six children. He began exploring rhythm at an early age on pots and pans and an occasional sister. He studied percussion performance at Northern Illinois University where he received his B.A. degree. Ray decided to go west and pursue further study at CalArts. While at CalArts, Ray met Butch and started a sonic bond that developed into “Damaru”.
Ray received his M.F.A. in World Music and Percussion from California Institute of the Arts in 1985. His film credits include; “Indian Runner” directed by Sean Penn, “The Devil’s Rejects” by Rob Zombie, and the Grammy nominated score for “A Bug’s Life” with Randy Newman. Ray has also recorded for television including; “The Roseanne Show”, “Who’s The Boss”, and “Going to Extremes”.
His Commercial work includes: Bondo Products, ESPN Sports and Fox Sports. He has recorded for; Daniel Lentz, Harold Budd, John Ehlis, Zadonu African Group, The Calypso Pirates, Big Bamboo, Lowen and Navarro, Damaru, Susannah Blinkhoff, and his own solo projects. As a member of the Daniel Lentz Group, Ray toured Europe Japan and the United States. With his own group, the “Calypso Pirates”, Ray has toured the U.S., the Caribbean, and Japan. With “Lowen and Navarro” Ray supported the Chameleon records hit “Walking on a Wire” with a tour of the U.S. He has collaborated with many L.A. based choreographers including: Fern Ackerman, Loretta Livingston, Stephanie Gilliland, Susan Rose, Linda Sohl-Donnell and Fred Strickler. In 1995, He collaborated with Anna Halprin for the annual “Earth Run” at Mt. Tamalpais.
As a soloist, Ray blends his unique style of soca and jazz to bring the Steel Pan to a new level. As an educator, Ray has taught at Cal Arts, Northern Illinois University, Fullerton College and U.C.L.A. Ray is currently the Music Director for the Department of Dance at U.C. Riverside and the director of the Steel Band at Fullerton College.