KMEA Hall of Fame
Ray James
Inducted in 2015
Ray James is a native of Huntsville, Alabama. He received his Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Murray State University and his Masters of Music Education degree from Wichita State University. Ray's 49 years of leadership and expertise in music education includes teaching at the elementary, junior high, high school, and collegiate levels. He was founder and first conductor of the Valley Winds, an adult community band in Temecula, California. Ray has taught in Florida, Oklahoma, California, and Kansas. During his 36-years of service in Kansas, he taught 19 years in the public schools of Hutchinson and Buhler and 17 years at Baker University.

Ray's bands consistently received superior ratings at the KMEA Large Group Festivals. His Hutchinson Central Jr. High Band was chosen to perform at the 1972 Southwest MENC Convention in Wichita, Kansas, and his Buhler High School Symphonic Winds were chosen to perform at the KMEA In-Service Workshops on two occasions. The Buhler Symphonic Winds were selected to perform at the 1979 Southwestern Division, Music Educators National Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Ray served as Director of Bands, Professor of Music Education, Low Brass Studies, and Jazz History at Baker University. It was there he realized his dream; to teach and mentor future music educators. During his tenure he initiated active outreach programs to Kansas and Missouri Band Directors through an annual marching band festival, a high school jazz festival, and a high school honor band festival. Ray was also granted two opportunities to teach abroad: Harlaxton College in Grantham, United Kingdom in 2005 and Dundalk Institute of Technology, in Dundalk, Ireland in 2011. The partnership he formed with the Dundalk Institute of Technology is still active along with the jazz program he initiated. His groups performed for music programs throughout Kansas and his ensembles made three performing tours abroad (England in 2004, England/Ireland in 2008 and Ireland in 2014). Upon retirement, the Baker University Board of Trustees awarded Ray with the status of Professor Emeritus.

Ray served KMEA as District 6 Band Chairman, as State Jazz Chairman on two occasions, and as an advisor to the KMEA Board as Kansas Bandmasters Association President. He was also Kansas Iota Chapter Phi Beta Mu President on two occasions. Ray was a performer and staff member of the Clark Terry Jazz Camps at Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas, and Central State University, Edmond, Oklahoma. He has made numerous adjudicator, clinic, and guest conductor appearances throughout the Midwest and Southern California. Ray served as an active member of the Kansas Lions International Band Staff from 1979 to 1982. He also served as director of the Kansas State Lions State Band on four occasions, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2011. He was the 2011 recipient of the Kansas Bandmasters Association Outstanding Bandmasters Award.

Ray is an avid educational technology enthusiast. He actively tested and incorporated the integration of key music-education and composition software packages into his practice, established music technology-related courses at Baker University and developed and delivered Jazz History Online, one of the first online courses to be offered on and off campus.

Ray's "be the best you can be" approach in all that you do has touched many young lives over his 49-year career in music education. Several are music directors in Kansas today, others are performers, but, more importantly, a much larger majority of those students learned to enjoy an appreciation for music and are more actively involved in music today because of that association. That, alone, is enough to continue to promote the importance of music in education!