Ray McNiece is from Cleveland, Ohio, and has performed most recently in Italy with poets Anne Waldman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Ed Sanders as part of the City Lights Italia Festival. In Russia he read with their poet laurete Yevgeny Yevtushenko and appeared on "Good Morning Russia" and was dubbed, "the American Mayakovsky." He has collaborated with his band Tongue-in-Groove to create two poetry musicals, Mouth Music, and The Rustbowl Hootenanny. He is the voice of Woody Guthrie on NPR's Hard Travellin.' In a review of his solo theatre work, the Star Phoenix said, "His thoughtful writing combines with perfectly timed delivery to create a wordscape that owes as much to jazz as drama."
Ray McNiece has earned a national reputation as a poet and performer for almost two decades through his solo theater pieces, his poetry and music shows, his captaining of 2 National Poetry Slam Championship teams, his "edu-taining" children's shows and workshops, and his yearly country-wide tours of performance poems, stories and songs.
He was the 1999 Grand Slam Champion of the Arkansas Celebration of the Arts, the largest performance poetry prize ever awarded. He received the 1999 Award of Excellence for his writing from Northern Ohio Live and won the 1999 Lyricist Review Song contest. McNiece was awarded an artist residency at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in 2001, and at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando in 2002.