The Whitney Family //
The Whitney Family's musical roots run deep: A renowned Los Angeles area entertainer, Louise Whitney began singing professionally at age 17 in Portland, OR, and has an impressive career that’s spanned some 50 years. In the 1960’s she toured with legends of soul Solomon Burke and Johnny Otis. Later, under the moniker Whitney, Whitney & Whitney, she performed with her brother James (Jimmy) Whitney, a Carlos Santana alum, and sister Mary Lee Whitney (who also toured with Johnny Otis) would go on to become a member of Stevie Wonder’s Wonderlove. Mary Lee was the featured female vocalist on the classic hit 'AS' from Stevie's legendary album Songs In The Key of Life. Local celebrities, the trio were L.A. area nightclub staples. Louise had a thriving solo career as well, and in 1969 was tapped by Quincy Jones to perform He Said He Loves Me on the soundtrack to the Sidney Poitier film, The Lost Man. She also performed the Emmy Award nominated Early In The Morning from 1977’s Minstrel Man, starring Glynn Turman. (See Louise Whitney's IMDb page).
With all this music going on around them, it was only natural that Louise's kids: son's Glynn, Nick, Phillip and Ellis Ray (aka Ray-Ray), and daughter's Tracey, Cozette (aka Cookie), and twins Louise and Louanda, would start to mimic the grown-ups, who were always rehearsing or performing. Whitney took note of her children's natural talent, and together they would go on to become the singing powerhouse, The Whitney Family, debuting at the famed Coconut Grove in Los Angeles in 1971. At the time the kids (who all sang lead and backup vocals) ranged in age from 5 (the twins) to 13 (Glynn). The Whitney Family toured the U.S. and abroad, played Las Vegas and Tahoe (opening for acts like Debbie Reynolds and Tony Orlando), and shared the stage with Ginger Rogers, Donny and Marie Osmond and even former First Lady, Nancy Reagan. They recorded albums for Warner Curb Records (1977's Airways featured Let Me Be Your Woman, a Billboard magazine Top Singles Pick), and United Artists Records. They made guest appearances on several local and national TV shows, including Burt Sugarman's famed The Midnight Special and the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars. They were also featured in several teen magazines, most notably Tiger Beat and Right On! The Whitney Family performed together for 20 years, until the “kids” began raising families of their own.
Unstoppable, mom Louise Whitney relocated to Las Vegas, NV in 2009, and continues to sing in casinos and nightclubs. Cozette (who toured with Latin superstar Álvaro Torres) and Glynn carry on the family tradition, and still perform and/or record regularly. In 1991 eldest daughter Tracey toured with "The Genius of Soul" Ray Charles, joining that sorority of world-renowned backing singers, The Raelettes. She also spent 5 years performing solo in Japan, and later launched an independent label, BabyDoll Entertainment & Records, releasing 2 self-produced CD’s to critical acclaim: 'Love… A Fable In 9 Acts' (2007) and 'I Am Singing… Songs I Love' (2012). A celebrity in her newly adopted home of Albuquerque, NM, she has a thriving performance schedule, and is routinely called upon to open concerts when the stars come to town. She's recently performed with a host of touring contemporary jazz elites: Will Donato, Marc Antoine, Euge Groove, Darren Rahn, Julian Vaughn, and Howard Hewett (of Shalamar fame). For more on Tracey, visit Babydoll Entertainment.
Known for his unmistakable velvety-smooth voice, the children's father, Ellis Ray “Ray Boone” Leary (1937-1985), was also a local favorite in his hometown of Portland, OR. In addition to his solo career, he was the lead vocalist for the 1960’s Portland based singing group, The Classics, and had once even been invited to join the famed Isley Brothers band, but family obligations prevented it since, at the time, he had a wife and 8 small children at home. With two such talented parents, is it any wonder all the kids came out singing? (Louise and her children relocated to Los Angeles, CA in 1967 following the couple's divorce.)
It was a hell of a ride!
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