Back to Ray

Ora May

I was born May 8, 1929, in Fort Worth, Texas.

The day I was born, my father told my mother that I would learn to play the violin.

I had my first violin lesson in 1936 at the age of seven.

May 27, 1937, I was in San Francisco, one of the 3,000 violin students representing The National Institute of Educational Music in the United States. We were on Treasure Island, standing under the Golden Gate Bridge playing "The Treasure Island March" for the Grand Opening celebration. What a great beginning of my musical career!! I have never looked back.

In 1946 I was chosen by Gene Autry to be one of the 6 "Ranch Gals" in New York's Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden's World Championship Rodeos. I represented Fort Worth and Texas. I also took my violin and together with Gene Autry's band, the Cass County Boys, I was privileged to play for and entertain patients in several area hospitals.

One of the highlights of the rodeo.....I was seen on television before I had ever SEEN television. In 1946 there was no TV in Ft. Worth.

In the 50's and 60's I played in many orchestras backing traveling stars. To name a few.....Chet Atkins, Boots Randolph, Homer and Jethro, Eddy Arnold, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Johnny Mathis, Tom Jones, Roger Miller, Andy Russell, Glen Campbell, Humperdink, Jack Benny, tony Bennett, Brenda Lee, Ray Price and many others.

Also, in the 50's I became a member of the Fort Worth Symphony and The Fort Worth Opera Orchestra.

I must tell you about a very special recording session in 1965. I was one of several symphony players called to play in this session. When I was getting my violin out of the case, I noticed another fiddle player walking toward me. It was Carroll Hubbard, a great jazz and improv musician, and also a renowned Texas Swing player. I knew his brother, Leon, whom I played with in the Symphony and Opera orchestras. As he was walking toward me, I noticed he had a clothes hanger in his hand. He bowed before me and said, "This wire just came for you." My life and his were changed forever.

April of 1970 we were married.

In 1972 we began traveling full-time with Ray Price. We traveled all over the United States and parts of Canada. I had become the Road Manager for Ray and now Carroll and I were part of the famous "Cherokee Cowboys". We were very happy.

When we were not traveling, I was busy with our, "Hubbard Entertainment Agency," booking bands, duos, etc. Carroll and I also played weddings, receptions, private society parties, and countless recording sessions.

It became necessary to take a leave of absence in 1985. My father was very ill and I wanted to spend as much time with him as I could. Ray was very understanding and was very fond of my Dad. When we played Bill Bob's in the Fort Worth Stock Yards, Ray gave my Dad and Mother a special treat. He had chairs put on the side stage so they could be a part of the show and see and hear Ray and the Cherokee Cowboys really up close.

During our "leave of absence," in 1998, Carroll had a stroke. Our live changed considerably.

Before his death in July, 2001, Carroll and I transcribed approximately 300 violin duo arrangements we had played during our 31 years.

Ray called Carroll and me about two weeks before Carroll's death. In late 2001, Leon and I rejoined Ray and the band.

In 2004 Leon and I retired from traveling. But we didn't give up playing music. In 1994 we formed a string quartet, The Sunrise String Quartet. We are in our 15th year and still get together once a week. We have found that "not to play music" is "not to live." We plan to play a long time.

I have often said that Gene Autry was my first boss, and Ray Price my last boss. Performing and traveling with Ray was truly the highest point of my musical career. I'm so thankful for our thousands of miles of memories, and especially "For the Good Times."