Born in the South into a family of musicians and raised in the Midwest by a great-aunt, Juan Huey-Ray is steeped in the music of the African American heritage. He started singing in the All-City Boy Choristers in St. Louis, Missouri while in the fifth grade. Growing up in the fifties, he was part of an award-winning doo-wop group that distinguished itself by singing vocal jazz in addition to the more popular R&B tunes of the era. It was his gift of a musical ear that enabled him to teach the complex harmonies and rhythms of jazz to his peers.
Relocating to Chicago in the early Sixties, Huey-Ray began his formal music education at the Woodrow Wilson Junior College (now Kennedy-King College). His acumen was such that he was awarded a scholarship to the American Conservatory of Music. However, his musical studies were interrupted by the explosion of the Civil Rights Movement. He enlisted in the struggle and joined the SCLC Operation Breadbasket organization. Having music in his genes, he gravitated to the music department and served in a number of positions including section leader for the choir, advance man, and eventually road manager for the choir and band.
Having an epiphany during this period, he returned to school, obtained a BA degree in business administration, and moved to Seattle, Washington to attend the University of Washington School of Law. He returned to music while in school and soon after graduating began a twenty year period of service as Minister of Music at the storied First AME Church - Seattle. While administrative law in public service was his professional career, one needs only to watch Huey-Ray and hear him speak of music to realize that therein lies his passion. He attributes this passion, particularly for the Negro Spiritual, to his upbringing by a great-aunt who was born shortly after the end of legal slavery. “Within the spiritual is a message of survival, of hope, of love,” Huey-Ray declares, “and it has proven ability to help transcend even the worst of circumstances.”