A master of jazz, blues, soul, gospel and R&B, Ray Charles helped define the course of early rock-and-roll.
Studio Tenn Theatre Company pays tribute to the High Priest of Soul this spring with an all-new theatrical concert, “The Ray Legacy: A Tribute to the Soulful Genius.” The show runs April 14 – May 1 in Jamison Hall at The Factory. Tickets are online at StudioTenn.com.
Company Artistic Director Matt Logan said, “Ray Charles is a long-time personal favorite [artist] of mine. It’s a thrill and a great honor to be creating a Studio Tenn original celebration of his work.”
As with the company’s previous Legacy productions, The Ray Legacy is not biographical—that is, no one person plays Ray Charles. Instead, its “theatrical concert” format calls for an ensemble-style cast of singers performing newly commissioned arrangements of his songs.
Logan said this non-narrative approach “allows the music to speak for itself.”Nashville-based pianist Ryan Connors is the show’s Arranger. A freelance pianist and member of the nationally touring jazz/funk/R&B band Dynamo, Connors said he appreciates Studio Tenn’s music-centric approach to its Legacy shows and is especially thrilled to be working with Ray Charles’ catalog.
With the songs front and center, Studio Tenn has enlisted the talents of top singers and musicians to present a tribute concert worthy of The Genius and fit for Music City.
The cast comprises newcomers Matt Giraud (a former American Idol finalist), Chris Lee, Reverend Lawrence D. Thomison and Meggan Utech, alongside returning Studio Tenn favorites Libby Black, Piper Jones, Laura Matula and John-Mark McGaha.
While Studio Tenn’s first two Legacy shows centered on country music mainstays Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, Logan is excited to be expanding into other genres this year.“Musical ingenuity comes in many forms” Logan said. For example, “A lot of the songs Ray Charles is famous for were written or co-written by someone else, but he was The Genius for how he interpreted them, combining musical styles and rhythms in groundbreaking ways.”Studio Tenn’s Managing Director Jake Speck agrees. “Nashville will always be known for songwriters and country music, but that’s only one piece of the rich musical heritage of this region,” he said. “We hope to encompass a broad range of innovative artists as we continue to grow this series.”
The Ray Legacy is made possible in part by Producing Sponsor Bridgestone and Designing Sponsor the Nashville Scene, with additional support from the Tennessee Arts Commission. The show runs April 14 through May 1 in Jamison Hall at The Factory, with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased online at StudioTenn.com or by calling the Studio Tenn Box Office at (615) 541-8200.
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