Ray Goren

Hailey Mears, Reporter

Goren was born in New York City, where he listened to and played along to the complex jazz music of Thelonious Monk and Oscar Peterson. He began doing this at only 5 years old. His family moved to Los Angeles, and he fell in love with the blues. He shifted his focus from keyboard to the electric guitar.

Some of his idols became fans of Goren’s playing. They offered help and guidance to the young musician. Legends of blues, like Buddy Guy, would invite Goren to their shows when touring the city, where he’d join them onstage. The artists would swap solos and then hang out backstage and absorb whatever wisdom they could offer.

After meeting Leon Russell who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, he began to focus on performing and writing music. Russell and Goren became partners in writing music. Russell served 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.”

He spent his childhood listening to soul legends like Donny Hathaway, Amy Winehouse and Stevie Wonder, and he draws from those influences. In addition to performing with his voice, he performs almost every chord and riff between lead guitar, drums, keyboard, and bass.

“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, pop, and rock. There are acoustic-based songs in his mix. This is a sign that, at just 18 years old, has firmly grown into the sort of songwriter who doesn’t need to hide behind a guitar.

Gorens music is cheerful and happy. He uses his lyrics to tell stories and be relatable to his listeners. With catchy choruses and descriptive words he easily grabs the attention of listeners.