Yvonne Gray-Ferren (Von Gray), 76
Former Los Angeles and Santa Barbara resident Yvonne Gray-Ferren, 76, died August 29, 2020, at her home in Las Vegas, Nevada, following a brief illness. At her request, no services will be held.
Mrs. Gray-Ferren (aka Yvonne Davida Gray and Von Gray) was born July 30, 1944, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Virginia Evans and David Santiago. “Von,” as her family and friends called her, was raised by her grandparents William and Pearl Evans and graduated from Germantown High School in 1962. She was raised in the Baptist community in Philadelphia and was a very spiritual person.
Von attended classes at Temple University before enlisting in the US Air Force in 1963. She served at March Air Force Base near Riverside, California, and with her first husband Cedric Bradshaw was transferred to the Royal Air Force – Bentwaters near Ipswich, England, before returning to March Air Force Base near Riverside, California, where she was an assistant to the base commander during the Vietnam War. She received an honorable discharge as an Airman Third Class. Von returned to England in the late 1960s to pursue a music career, where she performed as a studio singer and also traveled as a background singer for Sonny & Cher, Rod Steward, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Tom Jones, among others.
Von also was a successful solo singer, songwriter, pianist, and dramatic actress. She was a staff writer, producer, and background vocalist for Mighty-Three Music where she wrote or co-wrote songs recorded by Billie Paul, Jean Carn, Archie Bell and the Drells, and others. Her most well-known song “Lady Love,” which she wrote and co-produced on the album When You Hear Lou, You’ve Heard It All, was a hit record for Lou Rawls for which Von received a BMI Achievement Award for airplay 1979 and a Gold Record for sales. It has become a classic recording. Von owned her own publishing company, Alighta Mak-in’ Music, which has an extensive catalog of material. She traveled with her group “Gray Matter” in the 1970s and performed in many venues throughout the western Unites States, especially the Los Angeles area. Von performed under the professional name “Lady Gray,” recording her album Yvonne-Gray – Lady Gray in 1972, which included many of her own songs. It has received a five-star rating and today is a much sought-after collectors’ recording.
Mrs. Gray-Ferren was a resident of Santa Barbara, California, for many years where she was a licensed massage therapist, singer, and actress, performing in several theater groups and numerous plays including “A Street Car Named Desire,” for which she also wrote original music, and “Voices from the Well,” “The Legend of Lima Beane,” “Uncommon Women,” “Hot L Baltimore,” “Theater in the Key of G,” “Steel Magnolias,” “An American Daughter,” and “My Name Is Alice,” among others. Her one-woman show, “Von – Her Music N’ More,” was highly regarded and was reviewed as a “warming and thoroughly enjoyable experience…the singer/actress takes obvious joy in performing, has a big, beautiful four-octave voice, which was showcased in a variety of songs, many of which she wrote…She has an expansive and likeable personality.” Von also appeared in TV commercials and dramas, print adds, and was a member of SAG-AFTRA.
Mrs. Gray-Ferren was a friend to all animals and supported many animal welfare organizations. She supported the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara, sponsored a young man in the organization, and received several recognitions for her work. She was a first-rate administrative assistant and office manager throughout the many aspects of her life, and later a successful realtor while living in New Jersey, California, and Nevada during the past two decades. Her clients loved her. Von loved to paint and created inspired works of art throughout her life.
Von was a complex, gifted, and multi-talented woman who will be greatly missed by a multitude of fans, friends, and loved ones. She is survived by her husband, Wayne R. Ferren Jr., sons Lance Bradshaw and Darion Ferren, and granddaughters JeTaime Bradshaw and Aliyah Bradshaw, brother-in-law Howard Ferren and his wife Dyan, and many extended family members.
Donations in her honor may be sent to your local animal welfare society, women’s shelter, or homeless organization.