Mediagraphy - Discography - Trackography - Videography - Gigography - Biography - Chronology

30 June 2010

Spirit In The Dark, Unabridged (With Aretha Franklin) (1971)

The original album release contained an extremely edited version of the tune. Jerry Wexler cut the 25 something minutes back to just a few, and added horns and backing vocals. But here is the full 'raw' version.

You can watch the integral (in house) video of the event below.

The album was taped at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, on March 5, 6 and 7, 1971. Ray appeared on the last night.

Line-up: King Curtis’s the Kingpins - with Jerry Jemmott on bass, Bernard Purdie on drums, Cornell Dupree on guitar, Truman Thomas on electric piano, Pancho Morales on congas, plus the Memphis Horns, backing vocals by The Sweethearts Of Soul (Brenda Bryant, Margaret Branch, Pat Smith). Special guest Billy Preston backed Aretha (and Ray!) on organ. (The horn parts and some of the backing vocals by the Sweethearts Of Soul were dubbed over in the studio).

Original release: Aretha Franklin, Live At The Fillmore West (Atlantic, SD 7205). The elpee had a 5-week #1 run on the Billboard R&B album chart.
Contents from the three concerts were re-released several times, in several formats. The most memorable one is Rhino Handmade's 4-CD set, titled Don't Fight The Feeling: The Complete Aretha Franklin & King Curtis Live At Fillmore West (May 3, 2005; ASIN: B0006SSOH2).

And don't forget to read this excellent, thoughtful piece by Jeff Meshel.

Soundclip (original album cut):

The video
Wolfgang's Vault* has the full unabridged version of Ray's guest performance, one of the Greatest Moments in pop history. Watch Ray stepping on stage to act out a smoking improv on Spirit In The Dark.

* More recently, WV has also published audio-only versions of Aretha's concerts.

Wexler's cut (soundclip):

The B/W footage comes from a "Fillmore in house video". On 12 June 1987 the BBC aired a new episode of the Omnibus series, Aretha Franklin - Queen Of Soul. From 42:57 to 45:45 the documentary had a few bits from this footage."Aretha brings Ray Charles onto stage & they sing Spirit in the Dark". Source here.

In a 1971 interview Ray declared,
"That live recording by Aretha Franklin that I joined in on recently? It was a true accident. I just happened to be in a club in San Francisco, and somebody said to me: 'Hey, Ray, Aretha's working at Basin Street West' or wherever it was, and I said: 'I didn't know that. So why don't we go by and catch her?' So we all went by, and I was sitting out there. Evidently somebody told her, and before I knew it she'd left the stage and come up and snatched me. I mean, I can't argue with a woman - it's very difficult for me! She said: 'Come on up and do something'. but I didn't know what to do. I'm sure, if you listen to the song we did, the Spirit In The Dark, you could tell I don't even know the thing. I'd heard her sing it, but I think when Aretha sings something, after that everybody else should forget about it. You know nothing else can be done to it. So I didn't know it, but I figured: okay, since I'm here we might as well fake it the best we can. And the thing wound up selling over a million records."

The second photo has also been associated with the Winterland Ballroom gig in February '71, and has been attributed to Robert Altman.
Photos by Jim Marshall.

28 June 2010

Ray Charles In Yamaha Millennium Concert (2000)

The 2000 Yamaha Millennium Concert was a tribute to Michael McDonald's career. Acts included Ray Charles ("giving his Yamaha keyboard a workout on I Don't Need No Doctor"; see review here), Patti LaBelle, Kenny Loggins, Alan Parsons, Brian Wilson and the Doobie Brothers. The show and its video taping took place on 4 February 2000 (but I've never seen a release of the video, BS).
Charles was active in more Yamaha-sponsored events, such as the Sir Charles Blues Lab Blues Off 2002 for young songwriters, where Ray also invited Slash as a teacher (next photo, 6th from left). You can listen to a radio reportage here

On 17 January 2003 Ray was one of many performing guests at The 2003 NAMM Concert Honoring Sir Elton John (next photo), singing the duet version of Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word with Elton. Also read this, this and this.

In June 2003 Corey Levitan wrote (here and here) about another occasion at RPM's, this time with the South Central's Washington Preparatory High School jazz band, winner of a charity bands battle, whose prize was a recording session with Charles. The only thing they'd been told was the song they were performing: Let The Good Times Roll.

Ray, Slash, Billy a.o.

That same day former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash payed a visit to RPM, also to jam with Ray. The former Guns N' Roses members had just reunited, without Axl Rose, and were auditioning new frontmen. In addition to Sorum, Duff McKagan joined Slash in the studio this day. They came psyched to jam with Charles, too. (Unfortunately, there wouldn't be time for that).

Under recording engineer Terry Howard's direction, the students launched into the first of 10 run-throughs. Ever the rock star, Slash plugged in a Gibson Les Paul and lighted up a cigarette, and "drips his trademark blues juice over the backbeat".
When Charles dropped in, Levitan had a brief interview with him. [links to sources broken]
"Seated behind a Braille laptop, the superstar is backdropped by about 75 gold records and keys to most major American cities," Levitan writes. "He grabs the air for a handshake. He finds a forearm, then slides his way down with a smile."
"I think there's less opportunity today," Charles answers the first question. "I came up with good musicians, and they would have jam sessions. And if you were good, they'd let you sit in. They had places where musicians could just go and just play music. I don't see that today. Matter of fact, I don't think I would have made it if I came up today.
""OK, let's go," Charles says. [...]  "Don't be shy," he says, smiling. He listens intently as drummer Michael Roundtree, 17, kick-starts the shuffle beat that causes good times to roll again. Once more, Dennis gives 110 percent.
After it's through, Charles doesn't congratulate the students. He corrects them. "You're C-natural," he tells Luebrun and the other horn players. "The first one is B-natural, the second is C-natural. Then you play your F-sharp."
Charles doesn't like horn sections playing in unison, so he offers suggestions that slowly bring harmonic color into the room.
Then he begins scat-singing less specific direction, such as "more dee-dee-ba, dee-da-ba." Finally, he lurches into his trademark piano bounce and joins in. The kids are now actually jamming with Ray Charles. After about an hour, the Washington Preparatory High School jazz band has cut a record worthy of the best blues compilation albums.
Corey finished his story with the promise that the recording would be placed on the website, but that's presently not functioning...

Two other Blueslab activities were announced, but - to my knowledge - never happened:
  • In December 2002 Music Connection wrote that "Roger Waters, Sinbad, Queen guitarist Brian May, Ray Charles, and producers Glen Ballard and Erick Sermon have joined the Blues Lab team to orchestrate an all-star televised concert to be executive produced by filmmaker John Landis (Blues Brothers, Thriller). The concert will pay tribute to the blues and launch an international blues education initiative for kids, similar to the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. The event will be recorded to create a 12-song curriculum album which enables kids and adults to teach themselves the blues."
  • On 24 September 2003 a Pink Floyd fan picked up that "On Tuesday this week, his birthday, Ray Charles took the occasion to announce his own gift to the world, a national songwriting contest for kids to be sponsored by The Blues Lab and Comcast, which kicks off September 30th. The final song selection committee spans across the oceans and seven decades of music, from the birth of Soul, to British Progressive Rock, to Country, to American Rock Funk, to contemporary Hip Hop and R'n'B, all of the artists on the panel have their roots in the Blues, and are well qualified for the task of picking five great new Blues Lab standards. They are: Ray Charles - keyboard, sax player, songwriter and genius of soul; Flea - bass player and songwriter for The Red Hot Chili Peppers; Alicia Keys - keyboard player and songwriter; Willie Nelson - guitar, harmonica player, songwriter and country music legend; Sir Charles - keyboard player, songwriter, and founder of the Sir Charles Blues Lab; Willie Hill - saxophone player and President of the Music Educator's National Conference; and the one and only Roger Waters!"

    27 June 2010

    Ray Charles On Voice Of America (1974)

    The Paley Center archive (ID: RB:13522) lists a radio programme titled New York, New York, that was aired on 20 July 1974 by Voice Of America. The guests were Judith Blegen, Ray Charles, and George Plimpton. The program has also been shelved at the National Archives (dated 27 July).

    Tribute To Ray Charles, A 4-Part Radio Documentary On KCRW (1985)

    Tribute To Ray Charles "that salutes the inventor of soul music" was a four-part radio documentary (crediting Ray as a producer) on KCRW, the Santa Monica University radio station, hosted by Roger Steffens. It's archived at Paley Center (ID 87:0844 - 0847). On July 23, the program was beamed by satellite to the more than 280 stations on the NPR network. Also see the description of this KCRW program.

    Part 1: Ray's recollections of having vision as a child; the way he was attracted to piano playing at a very early age; the fact that the people who were major influences on his music never lived to witness his success; whether he ever had a premonition about his blindness; the way he seemed to keep the same singing voice throughout his life; his feelings about being denied the chance to play piano in a band when he was seventeen years old; his reason for using lyrics from gospel and spiritual songs in his soul music; the reason many artists were upset that he used his classic, gospel-style singing voice outside of church; and his refusal to record an album that preaches gospel. Musical selections included: What'd I Say (Part 1); Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand; Kiss Me Baby; I'm Going Down To The River; I Had A Dream; Blackjack; You Better Leave That Woman Alone; Talking 'Bout You; Lonely Avenue; I've Got A Woman; and It Should've Been Me.

    Part 2: How Ray felt about his recording success in the 1950s; whether he felt at the time that his recordings would make him famous and wealthy; his working relationship with Ahmet Ertegun, who would go on to head Atlantic Records; the extent to which he relied on his back-up singers, known as the Raelettes; the reason he chose to sing all the different vocal parts on many songs; instruments that he played before focusing on the piano; and his feelings upon meeting jazz music legend Art Tatum for the first time. Musical selections included: Hallelujah, I Love Her So; This Little Girl Of Mine; Ain't That Love; Heartbreaker; Marianne; Drown in My Own Tears [Live]; I Believe It To My Soul, Tell The Truth; Don't Let The Sun Catch You Cryin'[?]; Georgia On My Mind; and Alabamy Bound.

    Part 3: Ray's political views; his feelings about the civil rights movement and other issues relating to African-Americans; his reasons for not taking stances on political issues at all; how he handled criticism after playing a concert in South Africa in the late 1970s; his response if someone were to ask him to play a concert there again; the possible outcome of his music career had he not lost his vision; his experiences living in Orlando, Florida, as a fifteen-year-old orphan with no money; and the correlations he notices between the Bible and adultery. Musical selections included: Hit The Road Jack; Unchain My Heart; You Don't Know Me; You Are My Sunshine; Born To Lose; Busted; I Can't Stop Loving You; Ruby; Baby It's Cold Outside; and some live recordings, including Let's Go Get Stoned.

    Part 4: How Ray can judge what someone looks like just by touching a hand or an arm; his appearances in commercials for Coca-Cola and other products; his feelings about performing after he appeared at Carnegie Hall; his amazement upon meeting Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan; his experiences playing with an all-white country and western group early in his career; his definition of soul music; and his experiences in making the album, A Message From the People. Musical selections included: live performances of I've Got A Woman and Yesterday; I Can See Clearly Now; Oh, What A Beautiful Morning; Seven Spanish Angels; I We Didn't See A Thing; A Bit of Soul; live performances of Don't Set Me Free and Crying Time; and America The Beautiful.

    Remembering Ray Charles, A Four Part Documentary (1985, 2004/5)

    Remembering Ray Charles, a.k.a. The Ray Charles Special is a 4-part radio documentary in the collection of the Museum Of Television & Radio, in their Listening Series (source: Paley Center, ID: R:26977G, 27677, R:27701, R:27679). Each episode is 1 hour long.
    This four-part 1985 radio program produced by KCRW-FM celebrates the music and the life of Ray Charles. Host Roger Steffens speaks to Brother Ray candidly about his views on music, the business of show business, politics, racism, and much more.
    Looking at the description of this other KCEW programme, I asume that this Remembering Ray Charles-series was a re-broadcast (maybe of a slightly re-edited version) of that 1985 documentary, and that it was actually broadcast after Ray's death, sometime in 2004 or 2005.

    Part One: Music always seemed to take priority over whatever I was doing. Host Roger Steffens talks to Ray Charles about his first encounter with the piano, his family relationships, and his recollections of sight as a young child. In this segment, Charles also discusses his major musical influences, his struggles to succeed as an up-and-coming artist, and the reasons why he refused to ever record gospel music. Musical selections include What'd I Say (Part 1), Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand, Lonely Avenue, I've Got A Woman, and It Should've Been Me.
    Part Two: There is nobody on this earth that knows what is going to hit - what we do is we have feelings. This segment focuses on the early years of Ray Charles's recording successes in the 1950s. Brother Ray also reflects on his collaborations with Atlantic Records founder and legendary producer Ahmet Ertegun, the cultivation of his unique style, his relationship with his back-up singers, and his reaction to meeting jazz pianist Art Tatum for the first time. Musical selections include Hallelujah I Love Her So, This Little Girl Of Mine, a live recording of Drown In My Own Tears, I Just Don't Want You No More, and Georgia On My Mind. 
    Part Three: I try to be an entertainer. I try to play music and sing songs. I do not try to tell nobody what their political influence ought to be... I just play music. During this segment, Ray Charles talks bout his political views and particularly how he feels about criticism leveled at him after he played a concert in South Africa in the late 1970s. Ray Charles also considers the turn his career might have taken if he had not lost his vision. Musical selections include Hit The Road Jack, Unchain My Heart, You Don't Know Me, Born To Lose, Busted, I Can't Stop Loving You, Baby It's Cold Outside, and a live recording of Let's Go Get Stoned.
    Part Four: If you can bring out the emotions in me from what you are doing -- that's soul. This final installment focuses on Brother Ray's encounters with the world of advertising; his feelings about having his dreams come true; his surprise upon meeting Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan; and his definition of soul. Musical selections include Oh, What a Beautiful Morning, Seven Spanish Angels, [A Bit Of Soul], and America The Beautiful.

    Ray Charles In Playboy's Penthouse (1960)

    Frank D'Rone, June Christy and Ray Charles - from this show.
    Playboy's Penthouse was a talk show that ran from 1959 to 1960, the very first variety tv show where blacks and whites sat down and chatted as equals. It can also claim the first appearances of Lenny Bruce and many later iconic stars. The show was hosted by Hugh Hefner himself, in a party setting at a Chicago penthouse.
    According to the catalog of the Paley Center, (ID: T:24963), musical highlights of this program, that must be from late 1960, included Ray Charles playing piano and singing Georgia On My Mind and Yes, I Know [a corrupt title; see below], a performance by drummer Gene Krupa and his band, and Frank D'Rone singing The Party's Over. Other highlights included appearances by comedian Phyllis Diller, actor Tony Curtis (who played the flute in a brief segment with the Krupa band while one of the Playmates played the drums), and mime Shai K. Ophir, who talked about the art of mime and performed several brief routines, including the various ways that people smoke cigarettes. Possibly - see photo above - June Christy also guested.

    I've watched a 7-minute sequence of the show (poor video, but good sound), where Ray Charles performed very good versions of Georgia On My Mind and Hallelujah I Love Her So. For Georgia it's a 'first known live version' (it's also the first video-taped version of Hallelujah, but that song also survives in a 1957 audio taping of a concert at Carnegie Hall that I haven't heard yet).
    Ray played with a trio in which I didn't recognize the bass player and the drummer, but the guy playing flute on Georgia, and taking his tenor solo on Hallelujah, was no other than David Fathead Newman.
    The photo with D'Rone and Christie, reproduced above, implies that Ray contributed to at least one more performance - it may well have been the show's finale (maybe a rendition of What'd I Say?).

    To get a taste, watch this episode from 1960, with the leader of the show and another performance by  Frank D'Rone:

    Ray Charles Interviewed On KCRW (2002)

    KCRW is a public radio station broadcasting from the campus of Santa Monica College in Santa Monica. Chris Douridas on 11 May 2002 broadcast a program titled Ray Charles, with some interview footage (taped at RPM Studios) on the recording of Confession Blues, I've Got A Woman, the backing vocals on I Believe To My Soul (with some heart warming laughter from Ray), working with song writer Billy Osborne, what makes any song a good song for Ray Charles, plus the usual stuff about learning to play the piano from Wiley Pittman, his mother's influence, etc. Listen here.

    Ray Charles Ft. In Good Morning America (1988, 1993)

    Ray Charles was a guest at Good Morning America, aired by ABC on 20 June 1988, anchored by Joan Lunden, Spencer Christian and Paula Zahn. Source: Paley Center archive, ID B:12467.

    Ray was also scheduled for the show on 2 June 1993 (source here).

    Who knows more about the contents?

    Ray Charles At The Fiftieth American Presidential Inaugural Gala (1985)

    The Fiftieth American Presidential Inaugural Gala for George Bush Sr was hosted by Frank Sinatra. It included appearances by Pearl Bailey, Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Beach Boys, Mac Davis, Ray Charles, Michael Davis, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Crystal Gayle, Merv Griffin, Charlton Heston, Emmanuel Lewis, Rich Little, Dean Martin, Patricia Neal, the New York City Breakers, Tony Randall, Lou Rawls, Don Rickles, Tom Selleck, James Stewart, Jill St. John, Donna Summer, Mr. T, Elizabeth Taylor, Frederica Von Stade, Robert Wagner, the Inaugural All-American College Band, and five-year-old Mary Moltrup, who sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the beginning of the program.
    The show was aired on 19 January 1985 by ABC. Source: Paley Center, ID: T85:0245, ID: T85:0246.

    Who knows more?

    Ray Charles On Good Morning America (Liberty Weekend) (1986)

    Ray was interviewed for early morning ABC talk/interview program Good Morning America, that on 4 July 1986 showed special "Liberty Weekend" coverage. Source: Paley Center archive, ID: T86:0402, T86:0403. Also see this and this.

    Ray Charles Interviewed In Nightline: Reliving The Glory Days Of The Apollo Theatre (1992)

    The Paley Center (ID: B:23493) has a copy of the 1 hour documentary Nightline: Reliving The Glory Days Of The Apollo Theatre, that first aired on ABC on 1 January 1992 (this precise date may be a database hypercorrection, BS). The program was anchored by Chris Wallace. Interviewees were Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, Linda Hopkins, Lou Rawls, Nipsey Russell, Dionne Warwick, and Pearl Bailey. It also showed archive materials with Count Basie, James Brown, Cab Callaway, Sam Cooke, Billy Eckstine, Duke Ellington, Dusty Fletcher, Redd Foxx, Marvin Gaye, Bobby Hatfield, Billie Holiday, Michael Jackson, Etta James, Tom Jones, Gene Kelly, Gladys Knight, Moms Mabley, Pig Meat Markum, Bill Medley, Charlie Parker, Bill Robertson, Smokey Robinson, Isaac Stern, Tina Turner, Luther Vandross, Dinah Washington, Mary Wells, Jackie Wilson, and Stevie Wonder.

    26 June 2010

    Ray - Genius: A Night For Ray Charles; A Tribute Concert (2004)

    A Night For Ray Charles was a tribute concert presented by Quincy Jones, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman & Regina King. The show was produced by Renato Basile (and executive produced by a.o. Jamie Foxx and Taylor Hackford), directed by Bruce Gowers, and first aired by CBS on 22 October 2004.

    The story line traced Ray's rise to stardom and highlights his contributions to the History of Music.
    The King/Willis/Preston performance and the Blige solo track are great. Listening to McEntire, Cullum, Usher and Foxx can better be avoided.

    DVD: Universal, 7 February 2005, ASIN: B000A2GTUI.

    60-minute video:

    Ray Charles Interviewed For The National Visonary Leadership Project (c 2002)

    The goal of the National Visonary Leadership Project (NVLP) is "[...] to ensure that the wisdom of [...] extraordinary African American elders is preserved by and passed on to the young people who will lead us tomorrow."
    They have built an oral history archive, for which they also interviewed Ray Charles - I guess sometime in 2001 or early 2002). He doesn't say anything new, but he's his own charming self, as always.

    Also watch Quincy Jones and Joe Adams in the same series.

    A very special mother:

    My first piano lessons:

    Hearing my first arrangement:

    Inspired by Late Greats:

    Building relationships with record companies:

    Monster hit, What'd I Say:

    Playing without discrimination:

    Appreciating honors:

    Advise to young artists:

    My Utopia / how to groove in this world:

    23 June 2010

    Ray Charles Ft. In Salute To Lady Liberty (1984)

    Salute To Lady Liberty was a star-studded salute to the Statue of Liberty, while it was undergoing restoration for its 1986 centennial celebration in New York Harbor. Amongst the singing guests were Byron Allen, Ray Charles, The Dallas Cowboys, John Denver, Louis Jordan, Liza Minnelli, Kenny Rogers, and Frank Sinatra. Aired live on the 4th of July. Source here.
    The show was directed by Daniel M. Gomez and Jeff Simon, and aired on CBS. (And is not to be confused with this program).

    Ray Charles As A Cameo Guest At Soul Train Christmas Starfest (2002)

    On 14 December 2002 (season 32, 14th show), Ray Charles appeared as a "celebrity cameo guest" on the 5th Annual Soul Train Christmas Starfest, taped at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The show was hosted by Arsenio Hall, and directed by Michael Simon.
    Musical performances by Yolanda Adams, Mary J. Blige, Peabo Bryson, Karen Clark-Sheard, Natalie Cole, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Kirk Franklin, Dru Hill, James Ingram, Kenny G, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Kenny Lattimore, Donald Lawrence, Kenny Loggins, Johnny Mathis, Brian McKnight, and Lou Rawls!
    Soul Train was an American musical variety show that aired in syndication from October 1971 to March 2006. It featured performances by R&B, soul, and hip hop artists, although funk, jazz, and gospel artists have also appeared. The show's opening sequence (during later seasons) contains a claim that it was the "longest-running, first-run, nationally-syndicated program in television history," with over 1,100 episodes produced from the show's debut. The series and its many extensions, like the Christmas Starfest, were created by Don Cornelius, who also served as its first host and executive producer.

    Who knows if any of the show's footage with Ray has survived?

    Austin City Limits: Ray Charles (1984)

    Photos by Scott Newton.
    On 20 January 1984 Ray Charles, the orchestra and The Raelettes appeared live for the second time on the ACL stage (season 9, second show) for a mini concert. Ray, his band and the girls delivered the tunes routinely, without any (good or bad) surprises.
    In the second part of the TV show country singer Lee Greenwood performed.

    Ray's setlist was:
    1. Riding Thumb
    2. Georgia On My Mind
    3. Busted
    4. Then I'll Be Over You [partial, intro to #5]
    5. I Can't Stop Loving You
    6. 3/4 Time
    7. Born To Love Me
    8. What'd I Say
    A few sentences from the Do I Ever Cross Your Mind-album song Then I'll Be Over You formed the intro to I Can't Stop Loving You.
    For his first ACL show, watch this. Source: here.

    Riding Thumb:


    [I'll Be Over You +] I Can't Stop Loving You

    What'd I Say, recorded from tv screen:

    What'd I Say (soundclip):

    21 June 2010

    Ray Charles Talks Baseball On HBO (2001)

    On 25 April 2001 Ray Charles talked baseball with Vin Scully and Bob Costas on the HBO sports program On The Record.

    Who knows more about any taping of the program?

    Ray Charles Talks About Music (c 1975)

    The WPA Film Library databased a Ray Charles Interview from c. 1975 (tape master 1910, catalog # 514012). We see a "MS white male reporter with microphone seated next to musician Ray Charles. CU profile reporter. CU Ray smiling and talking about performing music; says Art Tatum was a genius. 'I think what I do is treat my music the same as a good actor would treat a part. I become part of what I'm singing about.' Talks about singing, Georgia."

    Ray Charles Playing High Stakes In Cyberspace (1995)

    PBS has a transcript of a report titled High Stakes In Cyberspace from 1995, presented by Robert Krulwich and directed by Robert Marshall. It was a coproduction of WGBH Educational Foundation with MQN Productions for Frontline.
    Actually, the sequence about Ray Charles was about the successful Pepsi campaign (from the early 90s) that used interactive voice response (IVR) to simulate a dialogue with consumers:

    ROBERT KRULWICH: G.M. O'Connell is a founding member of Modem Media. His company designs advertising that the audience can talk back to. When they started eight years ago, the only interactive device widely available was the telephone. [interviewing] What is Ray Charles doing on the wall?
    G.M. O'CONNELL: What we wanted to do was to convert Diet Coke drinkers to Diet Pepsi drinkers. We wanted you to call and talk to Ray Charles on the phone.
    ROBERT KRULWICH: The Ray Charles?
    G.M. O'CONNELL: Interactive media at its best.
    RAY CHARLES: Hey, you called the right one, baby. This is Ray and the girls.
    UH-HUH GIRLS: Hi! Hi! Hi!
    G.M. O'CONNELL: What you did was, you entered in a PIN number so that we knew that you had called.
    RAY CHARLES: It's easy.
    G.M. O'CONNELL: What we, of course, as marketers in this situation, wanted to be able to do was to start to develop more of a relationship or to know a little bit more about those people who were Diet Coke drinkers and hopefully were becoming Diet Pepsi drinkers. So what we did was we surveyed them.
    DIET PEPSI PHONE LINE: First, because you're one in a million, we'd like to know your birth date.
    G.M. O'CONNELL: Ray's going to send you a birthday card to make you feel good about the product and hopefully you'll continue to_to buy the product at the store.
    ROBERT KRULWICH: So you'd need the address of the person and the age and the birth date of the person.
    G.M. O'CONNELL: Exactly. You actually keyed in the birth date on_on this program. You could key it in.
    ROBERT KRULWICH: What else did you want to know?
    DIET PEPSI PHONE LINE: We'd like to know your favorite thing to do. If you are most interested in music or reading, press one.
    ROBERT KRULWICH: Five hundred thousand people called Ray Charles. But how many held on to answer all the questions?
    G.M. O'CONNELL: Ninety-eight percent of the people who called_ and it was a four-minute phone call if you stayed on to the bitter end_ ninety-eight percent of them stayed on for the _for the entire phone call.
    G.M. O'CONNELL: There was a reward if you stayed on.
    RAY CHARLES: Thanks for helping out. Now let's find out if you won. Hey, girls, do we have a winner?
    UH-HUH GIRLS: Uh-uh.
    G.M. O'CONNELL: So your chances stink, to begin with. I think the grand prize was actually a home vending machine. It wasn't like we were sending you to Tahiti or you could win a new car.
    ROBERT KRULWICH: Who are these people that are spending time commenting to a merchandiser about their beverage on the telephone with Ray Charles? I mean, it just really seems_
    G.M. O'CONNELL: It's America.
    RAY CHARLES: [singing] Now, that's the right one, baby.
    UH-HUH GIRLS: [singing] Bye-bye.

    20 June 2010

    Ray Charles Hosts Online Chat (1997)

    Billboard announce the box set deal in May '97.
    The UK version of until a few years ago linked to an article, stating that "On Nov. 13 [1997], Ray Charles will hit another milestone in his life when he hosts his first online chat on Rhino Records' website. Starting at 9:30 p.m. (EST), Charles, one of music's most versatile, soulful and energetic performers will field questions from fans."
    The chat was a promotion for Rhino's release of the box set Genius & Soul: The 50th Anniversary Collection.

    Ray Charles In Antibes (1985)

    On 23 July 1985 the France 2 news looked back at the meweting of Ray Charles and Michel Jonasz at the Jazz à Juan festival on July 22nd. The item stipulated that one of Ray's biggest admirers in France was performing that same evening. In an interview Jonasz stated that he considered Charles to be "his father". Ray was shown singing Georgia On My Mind. Source: Ina, ID CAB85102885 (mother tape CAB04000409).
    On July 22 TF-1 aired a news item where Charles (after singing a.o. Riding Thumb, in fact meets Jonasz backstage in Antibes (INA ID CAA85000033). 
    This source (ID# K7 MJ 0479) describes a broadcast by Radio France, dated 20 July, with Ray Charles, The Raelettes, and The Ray Charles Orchestra, with Clifford Solomon (sax and band leader) featuring Jeff Keys [Kaye?], Marc [= Mark] Curry (tp), Delfeayo Marsalis (tb), Charles [= Rudy] Johnson (ts), and Ernest Van Trees [= Vantrease] (pn? [keyboards]), playing the following (improbable) set: Blues For Inaima, Aranjuez-Spain, La [= For] Mamma, and  I'm Electric.*

    * This can indeed be identified with a radio broadcast of the Antibes concert on July 20, 1985. The tunes can be recognized as Blues For Nya Nya, Spain and For Mamma; the 4th tune's title remains a riddle.

    Also in '85 (maybe inspired by their meeting in Antibes?), Jonasz recorded a song titled Ray Charles, with numerous allusions to Ray's songs, on his album Unis Vers L'Uni (track #6).

    Song lyrics:
    Ray Charles est-ce que tu le sais ça
    J'mettais de la peinture noire sur mes dix doigts
    Pour essayer de jouer hallelujah jouer comme toi
    Jouer comme ça

    Partir avec tous tes disques sur une île
    Dans le Chattanooga choo-choo and just for a thrill
    I can't stop loving you, me disais-tu
    Ben j'peux pas m'arrêter de t'aimer non plus

    J'vivrai toujours dans une danger zone
    'Cause I feel so bad if you don't leave my woman alone
    Et j'vivrai toujours avec Ruby, Georgia, Marie Ann
    Tant qu'y aura ce sacré sun qui gonna shine again

    Ray Charles quand tu pleurniches
    Les plus pauvres sont les plus riches
    Sweet sixteen bars même les plus malheureux
    Sont les enfants du Bon Dieu


    Tout l'monde a dansé sur toi
    Même les cigognes sur les toits
    Les mots d'amour les plus doux
    Furent prononcés
    Sur la lonely avenue, lonely avenue

    Ray Charles Ray Charles Ray Charles Ray Charles
    Ray Charles Ray Charles Ray Charles Ray Charles
    Ray Charles

    A downright "larmoyant" tribute in this Petit Ave [Maria] Pour Ray by Alain Barrière, from 1968:

    14 June 2010

    Ray Charles In Cognac (2000)

    On 31 July 2000 France 2 had a news item on Ray Charles' concert in Cognac: "The city of Cognac received yesterday evening one of the major figures of jazz, Ray Charles, one of the rare occasions to see him in France. His arrival aroused fervour and excitement in the city." The tape is databased with the tags "Interview; Charles, Ray; Concert; Public; Stage; Street interview; Fan; Foot" by Ina, ID CAB00040497 (mother tape CAB00040480).

    Ray Charles In Paris And Chateauvillon (1987)

    On 30 June 1987 France 3 covered Ray Charles' concert in Paris that day, showing some footage from the show that he gave the day before (Ina, ID MSC8707011882; the same day they also broadcast an item with contents not known to me, databased under Ina, ID CAC01039391; mother tape CAC01039381).
    On 17 July 1987 France 2 covered Ray's concert at the Festival de Chateauvallon with "[close-up] Ray Charles coming to the piano; [various plans(shots)]; his musicians". Ina, ID CAB87025647 (mother tape CAB02066148).

    Ray Charles In Lille And Paris (1986)

    In the autumn of 1986 (29 October and 4 December on Lille, 21 and 23 November on Paris) France 2 and France 3 paid attention to Ray Charles' concerts in these cities. The item on 21 November showed Ray in Lille, "[...] at the piano, performing a jazz/blues song" (Ina, ID LLC86103006).
    The other items were databased as Ina, ID CAC00014583 (mother tape CAC01034757); CAB03012743 and LLC86120507.

    Ray Charles In Montpellier And Nimes

    On 17 July 1985 Ray Charles made it to the France 3 news, that covered his concert in Montpellier (Ina, ID RBC01002344 (mother tape RBC01002334).

    Ray Charles Smoking A Last Cigarette (1985)

    France 2 on 24 May 1985 had a news item where they showed Ray "In wings, smoking last cigarette. Singing on stage.", according to Ina, ID CAF88043667.

    Ray Charles In Troyes, Paris & Toulouse (Autumn 1984)

    End of October (20th, 22nd, 23d, 26th) and early November 1984 France 3 and France 2 broadcast several news items on Ray Charles' concerts in Troyes, Paris and Toulouse, and possibly a few other places. The item on the France 3 news of 20 October (Ina,ID RCC00008163) showed "Ray Charles performing Let The Good Times Roll before his concert" (from the 1979 Antibes concert).

    The  regional Champagne Ardennes outlet of the French public broadcaster TF2 or TF3 interviewed The Genius, who willingly debited his "Good music will always be good"-rant.

    On October 21, 1984 the Ray Charles group gave a concert in Troyes.
    The Q&A was cross-cut with brief concert sequences of Georgia, What'd I Say and Some Enchanted Evening - I assume all from the concert in Troyes.

    Ina databased the other news items under ID numbers  SXC04004211, SXC04004214 (mother tape SXC04004200); SXC04004219 (mother tape SXC04004216); CAC88026469; RBC02037881 (mother tape RBC02012548); CAB01032914; LXC01051456 (mother tape LXC01051442).

    This interview was broadcast by France-3 on October 22:

    Ray Charles In Vienne (1982)

    On 7 and 9 July France 3 paid attention to Ray Charles' concert in Vienne; on 28 December 1982 they looked back at the show. On July 7th they showed Ray doing What'd I Say [Ina, ID RXC02009279 (mother tape RXC02009269)].
    The other sequences are databased as Ina, ID LXC01044119, LXC00016241, and LXC01045700.

    In this 1983 regional news show French television used some documentary footage shot in Vienne in '82:

    Ray Charles In Le Mans (1981)

    On 12 May 1981 France 3 had a news item on Ray Charles' concert in Le Mans. Source: Ina, ID RXC02009279 (mother tape RXC02009269).

    12 June 2010

    RC Robinson's Early Years - On WFOY Radio (1945 - 1946)

    When RC (as he was nicknamed at the time) attended school at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine, he performed on WFOY radio in St. Augustine ('the oldest station in the United States' oldest city'), possibly already in 1944, almost surely in 1945 and 1946.
    He became the school's premier musician. On Fridays, the South Campus Literary Society held assemblies where Charles would play piano and sing popular songs. On Halloween and Washington's birthday, the Colored Department of the school had socials where Charles would play. It was here that he established RC Robinson and the Shop Boys and sang his own arrangement of Jingle Bell Boogie.
    This photo has been used in several documentaries (this is a still
    The Genius of Soul), but I don't know if it's authentic.
     If the woman is Aretha, Ray's mother, the picture must be from circa 1944.
    Henry and Alice Johnson, who owned a store in the Frenchtown section of Tallahassee, took Charles in. He worked the register in the Bryants' store under the direction of Lucille Bryant, their daughter. He loved Tallahassee and often used the drug store delivery boy's motorbike to run up and down hills using the exhaust sound of a friend's bike to guide him. Charles found Tallahassee musically exciting too, and he sat in with the Florida A&M University student band. He played with Henry Washington, Joe Ellison, Charley Brantley,  the Adderley brothers, Nat and Cannonball, and began playing gigs with Lawyer Smith and his Band in 1943 at the Red Bird Club and DeLuxe Clubs in Frenchtown, and at roadhouses around Tallahassee, as well as at the Governor's Ball.
    After his mother died in 1945, Charles didn't return to school. He lived in Jacksonville with a couple who were friends of his mother. For over a year, he played the piano for bands at the Ritz Theatre in LaVilla, earning $4 a night. Then he moved to Orlando, and later Tampa, where he played with a southern band called The Florida Playboys. This is where he began his habit of always wearing sunglasses that were made by designer Billy Stickles [at least, that's how one of the the stories about his first shades goes; BS].

    He decided to leave Florida for Seattle in 1947, forming the McSon trio (after guitarist, Gosady McGee, and Robinson), and soon started recording for the Down Beat label as the Maxim Trio with McKee and bassist Milton Garrett, achieving his first hit with Confession Blues in 1949. He joined Swing Time Records and under his own name (Ray Charles, to avoid being confused with boxer Sugar Ray Robinson) recorded two more hits, Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand in 1951 and Kissa Me Baby in 1952. The following year, Ahmet Ertegun bought the Swing Time contract, and signed him to Atlantic Records.
    Main source: here.

    Ray Charles Jr. Writes Book About Dad (2010)

    Ray Charles Jr interviewed by Mark Hayes on his new book, You Don't Know Me. Aired by Fox 5, on 10 June 2010:

    Excellent interview by Don Lemon, aired on 20 June 2010 by CNN:

    ABC News, 16 July 2010:

    Documentary of book signing shot by Dorian Earle, Schick Soto, and Moises Reynoso (July 2010):

    Ray Charles Live At Orléans' Jazz (1995)

    What'd I Say (with some news show hosts' rumble in the beginning), performed at the Orléans' Jazz festival in 1995:

        [Clip was removed from YouTube].

    Ray Charles Live In Ghent (1989)

    A spotless copy of the concert on 17 November 1989 in Ghent, produced and broadcast by BRT (in their The Best Of Proms series), has survived integrally. The program was directed by Stefan Rycken, and possibly broadcast live or semi-live.
    1. Riding Thumb
    2. Busted
    3. Georgia On My Mind
    4. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
    5. Feel So Bad (solo: Kenny Carr - g)
    6. I Want Your Love (with The Raelettes)
    7. Eleanor Rigby
    8. I Can See Clearly Now
    9. I Can't Stop Loving You
    10. What'd I Say
    Feel So Bad got one of the best renditions I've ever seen Ray and the Orchestra perform.

    Musicians: Chuck Parrish, Jeff Helgesen, Ted Murdock - trumpets; Jeff Kaye - flugel horn**; Steve Sigmund, Mike Guerrier, Marc Fields, Wayne Coniglio - trombones;  Craig Baily, Al Jackson, Mike Karn, Rudy Johnson, Scott Frillman - saxophones;  Ernest Vantrease - Hammond B3; Kenny Carr - guitar; Darren Solomon - bass, Jeff Ballard - drums. The Raelettes: Anita Brooks, Trudy Cohran, Kathryn Collier, Angie Workman, Estella Yarbrough.
    *   Information kindly provided by Chuck Parrish and other members of the Ray Charles Orchestra. 
    ** Jeff Kaye was playing flugel horn because his trumpet had been stolen in Amsterdam.

    The show was also televized in Holland, on 29 December 1989. Reelin' In The Years licenses out the 10 tunes separately.

    There's also a program with a partial version of the concert, broadcast (and probably produced) by the Japanese satellite tv station BS 2. It sandwiches the concert footage with a brief intro that uses a bit of content from The Sessions Project, and an outro with pictures from Ray's star on the Walk Of Fame, accompanied by a sad Japanese voice-over pointing out that the protagonist has left this world a few years ago. This version has:
    • Riding Thumb
    • Georgia On My Mind
    • Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
    • Feel So Bad 
    • Eleanor Rigby
    • I Can't Stop Loving You
    • What'd I Say 
    Feel So Bad (from the Japanese program):

    Ray Charles - Australian Bits (1962 - 1998)

    Reelin' In The Years has several pieces of footage, covering some interviews, press conferences and airport arrivals (probably all of them from Australia):
    • Interview (3:08) and backstage footage (4:36) filmed on 1 June 1962.
    • Interview (2:23) and press conference (0:43) from 13 May 1963. As good as sure the footage of the interview he did the day before in London. Cf. this.
    • Airport arrival (0:13) and interview (1:00) in Australia from January 1964.
    • Airport arrival in Australia from September 1964 (0:27).  
    • Arrival at a hotel from 30 October 1969 (0:34).
    • Interview filmed In Sydney on 11 October 1975 (0:43).  
    • And an interview from 1976 (2:30); probably the same as the footage described here, and then produced by CTC 7 (station ACT, Canberra).
    • On 25 April 1998 Channel 9 covered Ray Charles' arrival at Sydney Airport, where he "talks to crowd" (ID 19980425008; source here). "Ray Charles has arrived in Sydney for his concert tonight at the Opera House. He was expected to arrive yesterday but missed his flight."

      11 June 2010

      The Genius Of Ray Charles, Live In Australia (1967)

      (Caltex Presents) The Genius Of Ray Charles was a television special in 2 parts of a live concert taped on 18 August 1967, directed by Norman Spencer, presented by John Ewart, produced by ATN 7 (then a TV station in Sydney, now part of the 7 Group in Australia; aka CTC 7). Billy Preston sang a couple of songs and did some dancing. The 2 x 60-minute footage was occasionally interrupted by messages from the sponsor, Caltex, delivered by the actor John Ewart. The footage contains the title The Genius Of Ray Charles while the leader states The Ray Charles Show (with the leader of one component stating Episode 2). Part 1 was broadcast on 4 or 7 November 1967. The air date of part 2, also on Channel 7, was 15 January 1968 (source here). Both parts were scheduled to fill an hour.
      The concert took place at the Festival Hall in Melbourne (cf. this). The Sydney Morning Herald's daily tv guide of 15 January 1967 announced the second part of the program program as:
      "CALTEX PRESENTS The Genius of Ray Charles Recorded live from Melbourne's Festival Hall."
      The tunes of the 2nd show, listed in the newspaper article were (with obvious corrections):
      • I Can't Stop Loving You
      • You Made Me Love You
      • You Don't Know Me
      • Hit The Road Jack
      • Shake
      • Georgia On My Mind
      • Sister Mary [= Eleanor Rigby?]
      • I Don't Need No Doctor
      • How Deep Is The Ocean (How High Is The Sky)
      • Going Out Of My Head (?)
      • Something Deep Inside [= Something Inside Me?]
      If Going Out Of My Head is a correct title (as far as I know, the Charles troupe didn't perform it elsewhere), the best candidate for the composition is the Randazzo/Weinstein song with this title (and then it would surely have been performed by a Raelette).
      From the sources below, we know that at least one more song on the setlist of the second program was:
      • I've Got A Woman 
      Reelin' In The Years has footage of Ray's arrival on Sydney Airport (2m52s), and of an interview (1m10s) taped in Sydney, both dated 16 August 1967. The interview fragment (starting at 24:06) in this educational program about drugs probably comes from this footage:

      In that same year, but without precise date, they also list versions of Yesterday and You Are My Sunshine, which could be originating from the Melbourne show.

      The Australian Film & Sound Archive's database (in mother file No. 138035) offers a number of entries related to the 1967 concert(s). What I grab from it, the archive keeps the following items:  
      1. The Ray Charles Show/ The Genius Of Ray Charles, episode 1 (Title No: 8796). Production date: 18 August 1967. "Television special of a live concert in 1967 of Ray Charles accompanied by a big band at an unidentified auditorium.."
      2. Trailer for and/or excerpt of The Genius Of Ray Charles (Title Nos: 8797 and 690513). Production date 18 August 1967. Approx. 5 minutes showing Ray Charles, performing I've Got A Woman and another "famous song". 
      3. The Ray Charles Show (Title No: 11056) and 16 mm-duplicates of this second program, aired on 22 October (Nos: 11056-1 and 11056-2).   
      4. The Ray Charles Show: publicity material (Title No: 780309), 1967. Entails Channel 7 information sheets relating to episodes screened 1/10/64, 14/10/67 and 22/10/67. Information includes production details and some credits.
      The description of item 3. seems to indicate that the second hour of the concert has also survived. The AFSA ("screened") dates mentioned sub 4. do not match with the dates mentioned in the first part of this article. The 1964 materials named under 4. may be related to one or more of the '64 files specified in this article.

      Ray Charles Ft. In A Salute To American Imagination (1978)

      Publicity (wire)photo for the show (watermarked).
      On 5 October 1978 CBS aired A Salute To American Imagination, a 105 minute variety show celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company. Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Telly Savalas and Madeline Kahn hosted the programme. The guests were: Sid Caesar, The Joyce Brothers, Henry Fonda, Tennessee Williams, Lee Grant, Imogene Coca, Aretha Franklin, Ethel Merman, Rita Coolidge, Kris Kristofferson, Wolfman Jack, Ronee Blakley, John Ritter, Neil Armstrong, Martin Balsam, Edward Asner, Martin Sheen, Arthur Miller, and Ray Charles. Ray performed That Lucky Old Sun.

      Archival Television Audio (ID #5449) has (at least) the audio part of the footage.

      Ray Charles On NBC Follies (1973)

      The Chevalier act, with Mickey Rooney,
      Sammy Davis Jr,
      Elke Sommer and Jack Carter.
      NBC Follies was a Thursday-night variety hour, aired by NBC, hosted by Sammy Davis Jr. Mickey Rooney was featured in most of the shows.
      On 6 December 1973 Ray Charles guested, and so did Jack Carter and Elke Sommer.
      Mickey Rooney, Jack
      Carter (?), Elke Sommer (?), 
      Sammy Davis Jr., Ray Charles.
      The Times Daily was more specific about the contents: the show had a Mickey Rooney production number, Elke Sommer in a Dietrich-act, Sammy Davis, Jr. as the Mad Monk Rasputin and in a Chevalier tribute (to which Ray contributed - dancing!), "and you haven't lived until you've seen Ray Charles doing Louise". He also performed Look What They Have Done To My Song, Ma (source).
      Archival Television Audio (ID #4089) has shelved the footage.

      Ray Charles On Operation: Entertainment

      Contemporary photo at unidentified venue, 
      possibly taken at the recording of this TV show 
      (Ray Charles Foundation).

      Operation: Entertainment
      was an ABC variety show that traveled all over the globe to entertain American troops at army, navy and air force bases.

      Ray Charles was a guest at the 60 minute show, hosted by Don Rickles, that was taped at Port Hueneme (Oxnard CA) in February, and aired on 12 April 1968, with Susan Barrett, The King Cousins, and Fannie Flagg. (Source here).

      Ray performed Georgia, and - with The Raelettes - Hallelujah and What'd I Say.

      Archival Television Audio appears to have archived a tape of the show.

      Ray Charles In Oscar Peterson's Cole Porter Programme

      Intriguingly, BFI mentions Oscar Peterson, a "Programme featuring jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and his guests, playing the music of Cole Porter", directed by Ron Meraska, produced in the USA. The guests were Barney Kessel, Ray Brown, Roy Elridge, and Ray Charles.

      Who knows more?

      Ray Charles In The Gospel Of Gospel (2001)

      The Gospel Of Gospel was a 2001 TV documentary made by independent production company Lion Television for Channel 4 in the UK. It was presented by Mica Paris, and directed by David Upshal. Ray was one of the interviewees.
      Other featured stars were Clarence Fountain, Thomas Dorsey, The Five Blind Boys [sic!], BB King, Rosetta Tharpe, Aretha Franklin, and Al Green. Source here.

      Who knows more?

      Ray Charles And The Comeback & Return Of Singer Jimmy Scott (1994)

      The Comeback & Return Of Singer Jimmy Scott After A Battle With A Rare Disease was the title of a 6m45s item first aired by NBC on 29 August 1994. Synopsis:
      "[...] In interview Scott says he was hurt more than bitter after being forced out of the music business for more than 20 years; & adds entertaining was always in his blood & could never turn away from it. [...] In interviews singer Ray Charles says Scott was one of the first people to take a song & make a person want to cry when one would hear it. [...]." 
      Source: NBC News Archives, ID T940830. Also read this.

      10 June 2010

      Ray Charles: He Does It Best Because He Loves It (1991)

      NBC News Archives has a 7m21s tape (ID T93060) of a NBC news show item that aired on 15 August 1991, entitled Ray Charles: He Does It Best Because He Loves It.
      Bryant Gumbel reported live in New York city from the annual Songwriters Hall Of Fame award event  (Also watch this. BS). Synopsis:
      "Singer-songwriter Billy Joel reads a tribute to Ray Charles who stands to receive award from Joel & singer Lou Rawls. In interview, Joel says songwriters thank Charles for doing what he does so well. Charles smiles on stage. [...] Gumbel interviews Charles [who] sits at a piano. Charles says it is nice to receive these awards & kind words, especially while you're alive to enjoy them; says he puts himself into the same mode as an actor might when they get into character; notes he needs to put his emotions into what he does for it to work; notes you become what the song is dictating. Clip from music video to single Song For You with Charles singing at his piano. Charles says in VO that you want the song to come across to the individual who is listening & have it affect them personally. Charles says melody is vital, jokes he is the destroyer of melodies; notes he can twist melodies around to fit his emotions, says the only songs he has no business doing are songs that he doesn't like, says he won't attempt a song he doesn't like, says he likes the song Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon that he also performs on his new album, notes it includes great lyrics & has a soulful feeling. [...] Charles sings a part of Still Crazy for Gumbel. Clips from b&w Diet Pepsi television commercials with Charles; backup singers & a band seen; as in VO Charles says he did them well because he enjoys what he does. Charles says he isn't supposed to do anything he is bad at & notes he does the things he really enjoys. [...]"

      The Man: Ray Charles Discusses His Career (1991)

      The Man: Ray Charles Discusses His Career was an interview-and-mini-documentary produced by NBC's Today Show. It was aired in two parts of a little over six minutes on 6 and 7 November 1991. A time-coded copy of the 11/7 episode can be watched on the NBC Archive website. The Ray Charles-part of the 11/6 episode has been numbed for copyright reasons.

      "Insert of Chicka Chicka, a musical collection of children's songs sang by Charles [cf. this, BS], & insert of a compact disc collection from Atlantic records of all Charles' songs. Recorded while with them in the 1950s. In New York City; at the Blue Note Club, Charles is announced as he enters room & is escorted to stage amid a standing ovation from crowd. Charles performs at a shopping mall during Pepsi Cola promotional tour. Clip from a Pepsi tv commercial with Charles & back-up singers seen. Charles sings the Uh-huh Pepsi theme song. Charles performs in mall at his piano as in VO he says his voice is as strong as it has ever been. In interview, Charles says "What I do is sheer pleasure", & adds that it is amazing that he can make an honest living doing what he does. Charles says that if he didn't know he was 61-years old he would swear he was 30 because he feels great. Charles says he didn't know what a musician was until he was taught to play a piano properly when he was very young. Charles says he never wanted to be considered the typical blind musician, & adds that his mother pushed him to use his brain and develop himself. He says he doesn't see very much individuality in today's musicians, & adds that Duke Ellington, for example, was so distinctive that one could pick out his music by hearing only one or two notes. Charles says he sang at the Republican National Convention for money & exposure and not for any political reasons. Charles points out that if you can't appreciate a good woman, then what can you appreciate? Charles says he would not have traded his musical talent for the gift of sight if given the chance. B&w clip of Charles performing in concert hall, as in VO he says he could see until he was about 7 years of age. Charles sings song Hit The Road Jack, with a band & back up singers, as in VO he says rap music does nothing for him. Clips of Charles performing on stage & singing about women seen. At the 1984 Republican Convention, 8-24 in the Dallas Convention Center, Charles sings America The Beautiful; shots of supporters in audience waving state flags & signs while singing along; & Charles is greeted by then-pres Reagan & then-vice pres Bush. Charles performs on stage with a band as audience applauds at end of performance, as in VO Charles says his musical talents are worth everything to him."

      Ray Charles Narrates Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (1992)

      I don't know if I got the story entirely right, but as I understand it, Chicka Chicka was first published in the fall of 1989 as a printed book, written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, and illustrated by Lois Ehlert.
      Ray's reading seems to have been first released as an audio cassette in the spring of 1992. I found a review by Susan Stewart in Entertainment Weekly from 1 May 1992:
      "In a perfect world, Ray Charles would not be just America's most beloved blues artist, cola spokesman, and sitcom theme-song singer; he would anchor the evening news, too. Charles is as soothing as Dan Rather is alarming. He's Uncle Walter, with soul. Uh-huh!
      Charles turns his charm and his rich, warm voice to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, 1989's hit alphabet book. There's not much to the 20-minute tape: several readings of the book and some whimsical word games from writer John Archambault. But you'll buy it for the readings by Charles. [...].
      Charles recites as though he's got a perpetual grin on his face, and adds enough falsetto at alarming moments to let a kid know it's all in fun. [...]"
      Ray's alphabet narration:

      CD and book are still for sale: Scholastic Book Clubs, 2005, ISBN-10: 0439806968; ISBN-13: 978-0439806961; ASIN: B000BI4D9A.