A native of Michigan, Paul Raymond joined the Spokane Symphony as a section percussionist in early 1974 and became Principal Percussion in 1986. Besides his duties with the orchestra, Paul performs in a Caribbean band called Moko Jumbie and can often be found playing in the pit with the visiting Best of Broadway productions. In addition to performing, he is currently on the faculty of Whitworth University, SFCC, and Holy Names Music Center.
Paul Raymond by Cheryl-Anne Millsap
In 1964, as a kid in growing up in Michigan, Paul Raymond caught the Beatles' first performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Watching Ringo Starr sit center stage and play the drums, Raymond was hooked. From that moment on, he knew exactly what he wanted to be.
In the early 1970s, as a music student at Eastern Michigan University, he met a man who told him he should consider moving to the Northwest.
"Marty Zyskowski (former Director of Percussion Studies and Conducting at Eastern Washington University and current adjunct professor of music at Spokane Falls Community College) was there teaching at the time and he told me I ought to look into Washington State," Raymond says. "So I did."
He enrolled at Eastern Washington University and moved—sight unseen—to Spokane. In 1973 Raymond auditioned for and landed a job with the Spokane Symphony. Just as Expo 74 caught the world's attention.
"That was a great time to be in Spokane and to be working with the Symphony" Raymond says. "There was a lot of excitement here."
"PEOPLE JUST CAN'T WALK PAST A PERCUSSION INSTRUMENT WITHOUT TOUCHING," HE SAYS. "THEY WANT TO TAP IT OR TOUCH IT OR DRUM ON IT."
At the time, Raymond had no way of knowing he'd stick around, but for the better part of the last 40 years he's been living and working in and around Spokane. He got his Master's Degree at Northwestern University and is now on the faculty at Whitworth University and teaches at Holy Names Music Academy.
"I never really set out to make a home in Spokane, but I did," Raymond says. "The chance to play got me here and I guess you could say the music has kept me here."
When he's not on the stage with the Spokane Symphony or playing some other gig around town, Raymond is often in the pit playing with many of the biggest touring Broadway shows to come to Spokane, and he's worked with well-known performers like Jerry Lewis, Marie Osmond, Carol Channing, Bob Hope and Dionne Warwick, to name a few.
Over the years Raymond developed a love of ethnic — particularly African and Brazilian — music and has played locally with Moko Jumbie and Desafinado. He even managed to meet a nice Brazilian girl on the West Plains of Cheney. They've been married for 21 years.
Now, as principal percussionist at the Spokane Symphony, with a personal collection of more than 50 percussion instruments, some unique and hard to find, Raymond knows that where his tools of the trade are concerned, it's hard to enforce the "hands off" rule.