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27 June 2010

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.

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