The Life of Demetrius LaRay Buchanan, forever known as Play Ray:
On February 19, 1968, the Maestro was born in Rockford, IL to Robert Young and Blanche Buchanan, who both preceded him in death. Demetrius LaRay (Ray) Buchanan, known to millions as Play Ray, was the youngest of six children: Harriet Austin, Victor Buchanan, who preceded him in death, Tyrone (Brenda) Buchanan, Ivan Buchanan, Dwayne Buchanan, Timothy Buchanan and Yvette Simmons. Ray lived 51 exciting years until his death on January 22, 2020 in Atlanta, GA.
Ray was a life learner and he never met a challenge that he didn’t believe he couldn’t conquer. Growing up on the Westend of Rockford, he took advantage of every opportunity afforded to him to learn something, many of which he mastered. His parents nurtured him and his sibling’s creative natures, providing them with the necessary tools to explore and experience as much or as little as they wanted, including providing them with a lead guitar, a bass guitar, and a very small organ. What followed was nothing less than amazing. As the years passed, he became more interested in music and learned how to play multiple instruments, the cello being the first that he played well. He persisted until he found what would become the ultimate expression of music throughout his life: the keyboard. Ray affectionately referred to Leo Dowthard and James Collins as his mentors who subsequently ignited his musical growth and knowledge.
Not only did Ray play beautiful music, he made beautiful music. On any given day, you could find him in the lab, where he effortlessly wrote, arranged, and produced music. Ray was an extraordinary musician whose gifts and talents rivaled the best. He used his gifts to glorify the Lord at every step. He was born in church and he remained committed to Jesus his entire life. Even though he was touring with a band, he never forgot who his mother raised him to be. No matter where he was, no matter what state or country, he was in church on Sunday morning...sometimes multiple churches. He loved the Lord; without question.
Ray’s joys in life were God, music and riding his motorcycle. But what he loved most, second to God, was his family. He met his soul mate in 2006 and for nearly 13 years he cherished her, and she cherished him. He told her that she saved his life, but he saved hers too. His wife and children were everything to him, above anything else and nothing could ever change that.
Ray tried everything he ever wanted to do. As a child, he raised a pet pig, snakes and dogs, rode dirt bikes, motorcycles, unicycles and he even formed a band with his friends, who remain his friends until this very day. As an adult, he traveled the world with his beloved wife Shelia; he rode a Harley across country; he placed first and second in three classes at two national bodybuilding shows; and he stunned friends and family when he landed nearly 100 tv/movie roles in less than a year. Ray did it all, lived life to its fullest and did it unapologetically.
Ray is survived by his wife, Shelia Buchanan and his children Mia Box, Ashley Hearn, Carrington McClain, Brandon Hearn, Ashley (Ameer) Watts, Ashley Cooper, Alonso Cooper, Rashana Walker, Tashana Walker, Joshua Buchanan-Hunter, and Demetrius LaRay Buchanan, Jr. He leaves to cherish his memory, 15 grandchildren, God Parents, Joseph and Dara Caesar, a host of nieces, nephews and cousins, and children who he’s mentored, some now adults, who affectionately call him “Unc”. He will be missed by many, and his legacy lives on.
The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have. ~ Louis E. Boone
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