On January 24th, the iconic country music entertainer Ray Stevens will be celebrating his 86th birthday. However, this milestone comes with a heavy heart for him as he is still devastated by the loss of his beloved wife, Penny, just days before his birthday two years ago. Adding to his grief, he also recently experienced the loss of his only sibling. Despite these heart-wrenching tragedies, Stevens continues to bring joy to audiences, although he has scaled down his live show schedule. Let’s delve deeper into the extraordinary career of this cherished entertainer.
Ray Stevens, born as Harold Ragsdale on January 24, 1939, embarked on his musical journey at the tender age of 18 in 1957. In 1970, he made the move to Nashville where he released his hit song “Everything is Beautiful.” The song topped the country music charts and earned him his first Grammy Award. Audiences have been captivated by Stevens’ unique blend of pop, rock, bluegrass, and comedy throughout his career. One of his most famous songs, “The Streak,” became an international sensation, reaching number one in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Fun fact: a clip of this song even made an appearance on The Simpsons!
Stevens’s exceptional talent has attracted collaborations with some of the biggest names in music, including Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, and Willie Nelson. His immense contribution to the music industry was rightfully recognized when he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. With over 40 million albums sold worldwide, his popularity and talent have proven to withstand the test of time.
In 2015, Stevens embarked on a new venture as the producer and host of a weekly variety show called “Ray Stevens Nashville,” later renamed “Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville.” The show is filmed at the CabaRay Showroom, a live music venue and dinner theatre in West Nashville. It is broadcast on PBS, allowing Stevens to share his love for music with a broader audience.
When asked about the inspiration behind CabaRay, Stevens explained, “I’ve always been in the music business…I’ve traveled all over the world, played shows, written, and recorded many successful records.” Tired of constant travel, he made the decision to establish a permanent performance venue in Nashville. Through CabaRay, he continues to delight fans with his incredible talent and infectious enthusiasm.
Alongside his professional success, Stevens has had to endure significant personal tragedies. In 2020, his brother John, who also had his own musical career, tragically passed away after a fall at his home. This loss deeply affected Stevens but did not diminish his commitment to his fans. He found solace in his music during this challenging time.
Sadly, another devastating loss struck Stevens on December 31, 2021, when his wife of six decades, Penny, lost her battle with cancer. In a heartfelt Facebook message, it was announced that Ray Stevens would be taking a break from performing to be there for his wife during her final days. The cancellation of his highly anticipated New Year’s Eve show at CabaRay was met with overwhelming understanding and support from fans around the world.
Looking ahead, Ray Stevens has decided to discontinue his regular performances at the CabaRay Showroom by the end of 2024. While he plans to focus on recording and producing music in the studio, he wishes to take a step back from live shows. Reflecting on his incredible journey, he shared, “I’ve had a long run and a good run.” He expresses his desire to slow down and savor the joy of making music. His last year of live shows at CabaRay will run from March 16 to December 2024.
As news of Stevens’ upcoming retirement from live performances spread, his fans from all around the world expressed their admiration and well-wishes. From Australia to every corner of the globe, his dedicated fans have expressed immense gratitude for the joy he has brought into their lives.
On his 86th birthday, let us come together to celebrate the extraordinary career of Ray Stevens and send him our warmest wishes. We eagerly await the beautiful music he will continue to create in the studio for years to come. Do you have any cherished memories of Ray Stevens? Share them with us as we continue to celebrate this legendary entertainer together!