- 07:10 AM, Feb 21
Ray J is particularly lucky for being born to a musician's family by the name Willie Norwood. Willie, a relative of Bo Diddley, is a gospel singer who often exposed his children to the art of showbiz, including supporting Ray's older sister Brandy who launched a singing career at the age of mere 2. When William Ray Norwood was born on January 17, 1981, his sister has been cultivated to become a performer. Thus when the family that includes mom Sonja Bates-Norwood, moved from Ray's birth town in McComb, M.S. to Carson, California two years later, it was considered an open opportunity for the children to spread their wings even wider. Ray only started his career at the age of 8, when he auditioned for a number of commercials. Acting soon became his main interest and he got the opportunity to do so when he was cast as comedian Sinbad's son in his TV show. Although the show was eventually canceled in 1996, Ray kept his spirit high by branching to music after inspired by his sister's early success. He recorded several demo tapes that finally landed on the executives' hands of Elektra Records. He was immediately signed in 1995.
Two years later, Ray was added to Brandy's TV show "Moesha" that garnered success since its launch in 1996 as Dorian Long, the male main character's out-of-wedlock child. Unfortunately the show, too, received a decline in ratings since the fifth season and was eventually canceled after six seasons. Worse, his debut album "Everything You Want" that was released in 1997 did not do well on the market that he was dropped in that same year. Sticking it out when the going gets tough, in the several years ahead he made guest appearances on several TV series before eventually getting his big break in 2001. He recorded a cover of "Another Day in Paradise" with Brandy which eventually sold moderately well in European countries. This proved to be a boost for Ray's credibility for when his sophomore effort "This Ain't a Game" was released in June 2001, it peaked at #21 on Billboard Hot 200, fronted by the single "Wait a Minute" featuring Lil' Kim.
Beside promoting his album, Ray also continued his stints in TV series plus nabbing a main role in an indie movie titled "Envy" in 2005. The third album was then prepared with the help