Sibling alumni use voices in music and sports

by Life Editor Tyler Hargett

Alumni Timmy and Benjamin Ray have always been together, whether playing in their band or announcing sports at UNA.

The brothers, along with some friends at UNA, started a rock/R&B band, The Ray Brothers, during their time as students in 2007, with Timmy as lead singer and keyboardist and Benjamin as drummer.

Timmy said the band would play on the weekends, so it was easy to balance with school.

The Ray Brothers, which have performed throughout the Southeast U.S., have released two albums and EPs since 2008, with the most recent being the 2014 Christmas album “Christmas Time is Here Again.”

As of 2011, the group’s lineup consists of Benjamin, Timmy and alumni Tony Bush and Brad Greene.

Benjamin said while the band receives recognition, they do not play music for awards.

“When I think back to when we were playing a lot, I don’t think of that stuff,” he said. “I think of the car rides to and from venues (and) the random places we’d eat. For us, it’s always been about the fellowship together.”

After Timmy and Benjamin graduated in 2008 and 2012 respectively, they pursued different paths.

Timmy attended graduate school at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, graduating with a master’s in theological studies.

Benjamin went to Jacksonville State University to work as a graduate assistant in its athletic department before graduating with a master’s in sport management.

However, despite their different goals, Timmy said he and the rest of the band continued playing.

“While I was in graduate school, (that) was when we put our second record out,” he said. “Things didn’t slow down until we all started getting married and getting full-time jobs.”

Both brothers eventually returned to Florence, where two different jobs led them back to UNA.

“UNA Athletics is extremely lucky to have both Ben and Timmy to represent the university at sporting events,” said graduate student and athletics worker Hannah Littrell.

Benjamin signed on in 2016 to do radio broadcast announcing for UNA Athletics. As of last season, he announces for all Lions sports. He also hosts “The Chris Willis Radio Show” during football season and “Inside UNA Basketball with Bobby Champagne” during basketball season.

“(My brother and I) grew up UNA fans, coming to UNA football games, so it’s pretty cool to get to stay here and work in athletics,” Benjamin said. 

Timmy has worked as a substitute announcer for UNA Athletics. Last season, he began working as the public-address announcer for football, volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball.

“Timmy is our ‘hype man,’” said graduate student and athletics worker Janae Lyde. “He does a great job of announcing our games and getting the crowd to interact with him.”

Despite the workload they already have, the brothers both have full-time jobs as well.

Benjamin became UNA Athletics’ director of ticketing and corporate sales coordinator in 2015. The following year, his title changed to director of ticketing and marketing.

“(Benjamin) is a fantastic boss but an even better person,” Lyde said. “Whatever he can do to help you, he will most definitely do it.”

Benjamin has also taught classes for athletics, one of which Lyde attended. She said she interned with him before getting hired in the same position.

“He has given me opportunities to learn and gave me practical experience in the field that I am so passionate about,” she said.

For five years, Timmy’s has been the worship pastor for Woodward Avenue Baptist Church in Muscle Shoals, where he plans and executes weekly services.

He said him and his brother’s faith in God follows them wherever they go.

“(Our faith) is the undercurrent of everything we do, whether it’s The Ray Brothers or our current jobs,” he said.