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27 February 2010

Ray Charles Celebrates A Gospel Christmas (2002)

Original caption to this Reuters photo: "Singer Ray 
Charles poses at the piano at his Los Angeles 
recording studio August 21, 2002 to promote his 
upcoming Gospel music concert titled The Gospel
According to Ray Charles featuring the Voices of
Jubilation. Charles returns to his roots with this 
first ever Gospel music concert set for September 5 
and 6 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood 
accompanied by the 70 member Voices of Jubilation 
choir from Newark, New Jersey."
An audio version of this show located the concert at the Resch Center in Green Bay (WI), and dated the taping on 8 December 2002. The original plans were different (see caption, right). For this concert Ray Charles was joined by the 70-member* Voices of Jubilation Gospel Choir of Newark.

Ray's voice was frail those years, but in most tunes he wins the listener over by the force of his interpretations - and with some cool keyboard playing.

The footage has been re-released a few times, also abridged, and/or under different titles. The Deluxe Edition CD/DVD released in the winter of 2004 climbed to #2 on the Billboard Gospel Charts. Ray Charles, Jr. was a co-producer, Stuart Benjamin directed and was executive producer with Mike Parris and Jennifer Smith.

VHS: Urban Works, 7 October 2003, ASIN: B0000A2ZT8.

DVD: Urban Works, 23 November 2004, ASIN: B0002VEQKM.

Audio CD: EMI Records, 27 November 2006.

Read press release here. Also read this.

Ray appeared twice on stage, and performed:
  1. What Kind Of Man Is This
  2. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
  3. All Night, All Day
  4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (with Harold Dudley)
  5. Oh, Happy Day
  6. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
  7. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Stefanie Minatee; RC - kb)
  8. Silent Night
  9. Little Drummer Boy
  10. America The Beautiful
* Other sources say 100 or 120. 

Full DVD:

The following 1h4m version of the concert presents the materials as if Ray was guesting, but further below, I'm embedding audio files of the tunes (check YouTube for more video footage!):

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