The Whitney Family

 

The Whitney Family's musical roots run deep.

A renowned Los Angeles area entertainer, Louise Whitney began singing professionally at age 17 in Portland, OR, and has an impressive career that’s spanned some 50 years. In the 1960’s she toured with legends of soul Solomon Burke and Johnny Otis. Later, under the moniker Whitney, Whitney & Whitney, she performed with her brother James (Jimmy) Whitney, a Carlos Santana alum, and sister Mary Lee Whitney (who also toured with Johnny Otis) would go on to become a member of Stevie Wonder’s Wonderlove. Mary Lee was the featured female vocalist on the classic hit 'AS' from Stevie's legendary album Songs In The Key of Life. Local celebrities, the trio were L.A. area nightclub staples. Louise had a thriving solo career as well, and in 1969 was tapped by Quincy Jones to perform He Said He Loves Me on the soundtrack to the Sidney Poitier film, The Lost Man. She also performed the Emmy Award nominated Early In The Morning from 1977’s Minstrel Man, starring Glynn Turman (Louise Whitney's IMDb page).

With all this music going on around them, it was only natural that Louise's kids: son's Glynn, Nick, Phillip and Ellis Ray (aka Ray-Ray), and daughter's Tracey, Cozette (aka Cookie), and twins Louise and Louanda, would start to mimic the grown-ups, who were always rehearsing or performing. Whitney took note of her children's natural talent, and together they would go on to become the singing powerhouse, The Whitney Family, debuting at the famed Coconut Grove in Los Angeles in 1971. At the time the kids (who all sang lead and backup vocals) ranged in age from 5 (the twins) to 13 (Glynn). The Whitney Family toured the U.S. and abroad, played Las Vegas and Tahoe (opening for acts like Debbie Reynolds and Tony Orlando), and shared the stage with Ginger Rogers, Donny and Marie Osmond and even former First Lady, Nancy Reagan. They recorded albums for Warner Curb Records (1977's Airways featured Let Me Be Your Woman, a Billboard magazine Top Singles Pick), and United Artists Records. They made guest appearances on several local and national TV shows, including Burt Sugarman's famed The Midnight Special and the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars. They were also featured in several teen magazines, most notably Tiger Beat and Right On! The Whitney Family performed together for 20 years, until the “kids” began raising families of their own.

 

Unstoppable, mom Louise Whitney relocated to Las Vegas, NV in 2009, and continues to sing in casinos and nightclubs. Cozette (who toured with Latin superstar Álvaro Torres) and Glynn also carry on the family tradition, and perform or do session work regularly. In 1991 eldest daughter Tracey toured with "The Genius of Soul" Ray Charles, joining that sorority of world-renowned backing singers, The Raelettes. She also spent 5 years performing solo in Japan, and later launched an independent label, BabyDoll Entertainment & Records, releasing 2 self-produced CD’s to critical acclaim: 'Love… A Fable In 9 Acts' (2007) and 'I Am Singing… Songs I Love' (2012). A celebrity in her newly adopted home of Albuquerque, NM, she has a thriving performance schedule, and is routinely called upon to open concerts when the stars come to town. She's recently performed with a host of touring contemporary jazz elites: Will Donato, Marc Antoine, Euge Groove, Darren Rahn, Julian Vaughn, and Howard Hewett (of Shalamar fame).

Known for his unmistakable velvety-smooth voice, the children's father, Ellis Ray “Ray Boone” Leary (1937-1985), was also a local favorite in his hometown of Portland, OR. In addition to his solo career, he was the lead vocalist for the 1960’s Portland based singing group, The Classics, and had once even been invited to join the famed Isley Brothers band, but family obligations prevented it since, at the time, he had a wife and 8 small children at home. With two such talented parents, is it any wonder all the kids came out singing? (Louise and her children relocated to Los Angeles, CA in 1967 following the couple's divorce.)

For more on the Whitney's, visit their website: The Whitney Family Band. We also invite you to "Like" The Whitney Family and Tracey Whitney Music pages on Facebook, where we regularly post photos and music. Until then, as the song says: "Get Closer To My Music / Get Closer To My Song / If You Feel The Rhythms Got Ya / Come And Sing Along."

It was one amazing ride!

The Whitney Family on The Midnight Special TV Show - 1975

Let Me Be Your Woman

Glitter Child

The Two Of Us

Get Closer To My Music

Whitney, Whitney & Whitney

Before there was a "Whitney Family," there was  "Whitney, Whitney & Whitney," a singing group consisting of 2 sisters and a brother - Louise Whitney, James Whitney (Jimmy) and Mary Lee Whitney-Evans. Louise and Mary toured with Soul legend Solomon Burke, and Louise toured with Johnny Otis. Mary Lee was a member of Stevie Wonder's "Wonderlove," and was the featured female lead on his classic "AS" from "Songs In The Key Of Life." Jimmy opened tours for Carlos Santana and Tower of Power, and as a songwriter, wrote for Michael Jackson & The Main Ingredient. Louise would go on to form "The Whitney Family" with her 8 children - sons Glynn, Nick, Phillip and Ellis Ray, and daughters Tracey, Cozette (Cookie), Louise & Louanda. Their 1977 Warner-Curb Records release, "Let Me Be Your Woman" was a Billboard magazine Top Singles Pick. Louise and Jimmy are still performing today, and Mary Lee performs occasionally.

One & One Are One

Sun Bear