Ray Lema proved at a young age to be a gifted pianist and guitarist. By the time he entered college, he was already playing keyboard in Kinshasa clubs for artists like Kalle, Abeti, M’pongo Love, and Tabu Ley. He worked as an ethnomusicologist, and in the mid-70s was commissioned by the Zairean government to assemble a National Ballet for Zaire. In 1979 Ray received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to travel and perform in USA. There he recorded his first album, Koteja. Two years afterwards he moved to Europe, staying in Belgium and France. In France he formed the band Carma and started a record label, Celluloid with his album Kinshasa-Washington DC-Paris in 1983. Medecine followed in 1985. Since then, he has travelled the world, working with musicians from Ivory Coast, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Morocco and Europe. In 1989, the Mahotella Queens featured on the track “Kamulang” on the Nangadeef album.
He composes regularly for Theater and Movie trails and has received several awards for his entire career (including a Django d’Or).
Music education in Africa remains a priority and he frequently organizes workshops with young musicians and produces many artists of his continent.