Johnny Ray Watson was a renowned gospel singer born and raised in Lorenzo, Texas. His singing career began at eight years old, in the children’s choir at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Lorenzo. At age 10, he formed his first singing group, “The Thrillers,” with his two cousins. They won second place in a 1959 Lubbock talent show. If he could hear the melody, he could usually play the song. Johnny Ray never had formal voice training, but the little he did get, he credited Mr. Harlan Reddell. While attending college at McMurray in Abilene, Texas, he joined a band called Speedlimit 2020, and they traveled to other colleges and performed. In 1972, he formed a family group called the Soul Savers, and they traveled all over the Panhandle, spreading the gospel in the African-American churches. 1974, he wrote, arranged, and recorded his first single, “This Man.” In 1975, he recorded his first album, The Straight and Narrow Path. In 1977, he recorded Gonna Be A Glorious Day. Watson recorded five other albums: It’s Beginning To Rain, Johnny Ray Sings the Old Hymns a New Way, It is Heaven, Music that Heals the Heart, and I Love This Story. During his career, Johnny Ray Watson appeared with the Billy Graham Crusade several times and performed at the home of the former President of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk. Johnny Ray Watson passed on January 21, 2014.
Johnny Ray Watson was inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame in 2017.