Ray Charles


Pictured (L-R) are SCL President Dan Foliart, Vic Mizzy, and Ray Charles.

This is the text Dan Foliart’s introduction of Ray Charles at the 2004 SCL Annual Holiday Dinner:

Ray Charles. I must say that around my household, the artist associated with Georgia and What I’d Say, was in fact, the other Ray Charles. I first remember hearing the rich sonorous vocal stylings of Ray and his incredible groups of singers in the late 50’s. He had put together an marvelous collection of recordings known as the Seasons for MGM records. My family had the winter volume that included such standards as Moonlight in Vermont, and Let it Snow. There was another album of carols that was released about the same time. To this day, when December comes around these records are on constant rotation around the Foliart household.

In picking our honorees for the 2004 SCL Ambassadors, Ray’s name came to mind, certainly validated for a number of reasons but perhaps the most important to me is the wonderful gift he has given our community with the masterful arrangements that are so dear to many of our hearts. With the ever evolving technologies and the ease that music can be created with those with considerable skill, but many times by those with less than rudimentary knowledge of our profession, it should be beholden on us as a community to ensure that the wonderful craft that Ray so ably mastered is not forgotten.

Ray’s work began in the forties, showcased in as many as ten live radio shows a week. It was on one of these shows, NBC’s Supper Club that he began his association with Perry Como, which, after transitioning to television, led to over twenty years of solid ratings, with Ray wearing the “ general man –of- all- music” hat from special material composer, choral director, vocal arranger, even producer from 1965-1967. The aptly titled, Ray Charles singers played an integral role in the show and the many recordings inspired by the series.

Besides working with Perry Como, Ray’s list of credits range from Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Julie Andrews, Jackie Gleason, Gene Kelly, John Denver, Mac Davis and the Carpenters. His own Ray Charles singers recorded over thirty albums, and their song, Love me With All of Your Heart reached number three on the billboard charts in 1964. Other top 40 Hits included Al-Di-La and One More Time a few years later.

Ray conducted Finian’s Rainbow as well as supervised the choral work and also conducted the original cast album. Ray oversaw the choral work on Barbra Streisand’s film, Funny Lady as well as similar chores on Racing With the Moon.

He has received numerous Emmy nominations as well as Awards and some of the many shows he has worked on include, The Julie Andrews Show, Perry Como’s Christmas in the Holy Land, The Stars Salute the U.S. Olympic Team, America Picks the Number One Songs, the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Bob Hope: The first ninety years.

His work in television continues with 21 years and counting work as the choral director of the Kennedy Center honors. He also has been the consultant and vocal arranger for two of public television’s highest rated annual specials, the Memorial Day Concert and A Capitol Fourth. He recently received the Irwin Kostal Tribute Award from the American Society of Arrangers and Composers.