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April 4-6, 2025

Word of South

Johnny Ray Daniels

Born in 1946 in eastern North Carolina as one of seven children, Johnny Ray Daniels sang with his brothers and learned to play guitar from watching his dad. The region was known to have the highest concentration of KKK anywhere in the South. He and some friends started a rock & roll band at the age of 20 called the Soul Twisters, often playing support for national touring acts that came through town.

One night, Daniels’ life changed forever. He was standing on stage at a white nightclub, looking out over the faces of the audience dancing and drinking. “In the blink of an eye, it was like I could hear the Lord saying, ‘You’re in the wrong place,” he recalls.

He began singing with his church choir while running a business doing carpet and tile installation for the schools in Pitt County, soon learning piano. He married Dorothy Vines, a member of the Vines Sisters group. Daniels played behind every song the Vines Sisters ever sang as the group built up a reputation as one of the most stirring gospel groups in Eastern North Carolina. Holding to a hard-driving old-school quartet style, they were soon dubbed the “Glorifying” Vines Sisters by a local radio DJ, for the way they sang and shouted for the Lord. In 2022 Daniels’ debut solo album Whatever You Need was released via producer Bruce Watson’s Bible & Tire Recording Co. Johnny Ray Daniels’ passionate vocals and sweaty performances will touch fans of vintage-style soul, even non-believers.