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Debo Ray emerges jubilant

Vocalist to perform free concert at Kroc Center Nov. 13

Scott Haas
Debo Ray emerges jubilant
Vocalist and composer Debo Ray. PHOTO: HOLY SMOKE PHOTOGRAPHY

Boston-based vocalist Debo Ray is emerging from the pandemic to perform with her quartet on Nov. 13 at 3 p.m. at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Dorchester as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston. Admission is free and audiences will be required to show proof of a current COVID vaccination and wear masks during the show. The concert is the third of five performances in the Celebrity Series’ Neighborhood Arts Jazz & Contemporary Music series.

Ray is schooled in jazz and has a degree from the Berklee College of Music in vocal performance and composition, but her range of interests is eclectic.

“I love AC/DC, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin,” Ray told the Banner, “as well as salsa and meringue. From West Africa, I’m enjoying the singer Angélique Kidjo. She’s a real powerhouse!”


Growing up in Lynn with parents from Haiti, Ray said, she was “raised in the Haitian church by a family of pastors.” And in music, she seeks “jubilation, and music that you’re able to dance to.”

For the Kroc Center performance, her quartet will include David Fiuczynski on guitar, Wesley Wirth on bass, Utar Artun on piano, and Ransom McCafferty on drums. 

“David has his own band, Screaming Headless Torsos,” Ray notes. “We’ll be doing some of his songs at the concert.”

During the pandemic, Ray worked in her home studio, which was a break from being on the road full time. That period of isolation offered her a chance to go deep into her music, and to explore influences. In October 2020, she recorded “When the Party’s Over,” a tune written by Billie Eilish.

“I also enjoy Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Dianne Reeves, and Cécile McLorin Salvant,” she said.

Ray spoke of her present musical interests as microtonal, which she described as differing from European music with its 12 tones, and instead having multiple notes, “as many as double or triple to what’s tonal.”

Just before the pandemic started, Ray said, she was scheduled to begin a two-month performance tour of Japan. 

“I’ve been before,” she said, “and I’ll be back. I have an affinity for Japanese music, such as the music used in anime.”

The Nov. 13 show will be Ray’s third performance through the Celebrity Series and the first one that’s not remote. While her live performance takes place on the 13th, it will also premiere on YouTube on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. and be available on demand for three months.

Celebrity Series of Boston offers performances, live and streaming, throughout the year, and on February 5, 2022, you can catch vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant performing at the Berklee Performance Center.

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