NEW YORK, N.Y. — Jazz guitarist and activist Carline Ray died Thursday at Isabella House in New York City, according to a statement from her publicist. She was 88.
No cause of death was given for Ray, who was a member of the International Sweethearts Of Rhythm band. Ray, who was born in New York City, joined the group with fellow Juilliard School of Music student Edna Smith after the pair graduated in 1946. Ray played guitar and sang with the band.
In 1948 she joined Erskine Hawkins And His Orchestra after the International Sweethearts disbanded. After leaving Hawkins, Ray and Smith teamed up with fellow former Sweetheart Pauline Braddy to start a trio that played in New York clubs.
An accomplished guitar player and bassist she played on several musical projects including with Sy Oliver Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra directed by Mercer Ellington, pianist/composer Mary Lou Williams, trombonist-composer Melba Liston, and singer Ruth Brown.
Ray championed for better recognition of women in Jazz and was featured in the documentary film “The Girls in the Band,” which was directed by Judy Chaikin. The guitarist told author Sally Placksin, “I would rather be taken seriously as a musician, and the fact that I’m female — I just happen to be female, that’s all.”
In 2005, Ray was the recipient of the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival Award, and in 2008, she was presented with an International Women In Jazz Award. In 2013 she released her solo debut album, “Carline Ray – Vocal Sides.”
Ray is survived by her daughter, Catherine Russell, and her sister Irma Sloan.
Lisa Respers France | CNN