Ray Stevens' wife Penny Jackson Ragsdale passed away shortly before midnight on New Year's Eve (12/31) following a battle with cancer. She was 78.
Stevens' team announced on Wednesday (Dec. 29) via social media that the singer cancelled a gig in Nashville to focus on his wife as she reaches her "end-of-life stage."
"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you Ray's wife, Penny, has had a prolonged illness and has suddenly and rapidly progressed to the end-of-life stage, and Ray is devastated," the statement reads. "His only focus right now is her. Regretfully, Ray will not be able to perform the New Year's Eve show scheduled at the CabaRay, it has been canceled. We are incredibly sorry for the inconvenience and hope you all understand. Please send your thoughts and prayers to Ray and his family during this difficult time."
It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you Ray's wife, Penny, has had a prolonged illness and has...
Ragsdale is survived by Stevens, her husband of over 60 years, their two daughters, Timi and Suzy, and four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Stevens transitioned in the '60s from one of Nashville's best music arrangers to a respected country and pop singer-songwriter.
Beyond having his likeness reside in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum rotunda, he's earned spots in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Christian Music Hall of Fame with his silly ("The Streak," "Shriner's Convention"), sincere ("Misty," "Everything is Beautiful") and spiritual ("Turn Your Radio On") recordings.
Stevens' latest album, Ain't Nothin' Funny Anymore, arrived in October and offered the veteran country singer's perspectives on current events.
"When you turn on the news, it seems as though the planet is in utter turmoil," Stevens said (as quoted by Music Row). "Like my old friend Mel Tillis used to say, 'laughter is the best medicine in the world.' And we need it now more than ever. I enjoy recording songs about things that are currently happening in the world... I think there's something for everyone on this album. It's something I'm proud of and I hope folks enjoy it as much as I did recording it."
Editor's Note: This article was updated on Jan. 1, 2022.