BIO COMMEMORATES THE 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF RAY CHARLES' BIRTH WITH "RAY CHARLES AMERICA"
TWO HOUR FILM SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON LIFE, MUSIC AND LEGACY
PREMIERES TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12 AT 9 PM ET ON BIO
NARRATED BY DAVID DUCHOVNY AND FEATURING NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN
FOOTAGE, RECORDINGS, PHOTOS AND NEW INTERVIEWS WITH
CLINT EASTWOOD, BILL COSBY, BEN HARPER, WILLIE NELSON & MORE
NEW YORK, N.Y. September 27, 2010 - BIO presents "Ray Charles America" a fresh look at the life, impact and influence of the unconventional American icon who transcended every musical genre on Tuesday, October 12 at 9 PM ET/8 PM CT/11 PM MT/10 PM PT. The two-hour special, narrated by David Duchovny, commemorates the 80th anniversary of Ray Charles' birth and explores the life and music of the man behind such hit songs as "What'd I Say," "Georgia On My Mind," "Hit The Road Jack," "America, the Beautiful" and "I've Got A Woman."
A unique partnership between the Grammy-nominated producers of the BIO documentary "Johnny Cash's America," and The Ray Charles Foundation, the film features unprecedented access to the Ray Charles archives including a wealth of rare and never-before-seen footage and photos and more than 25 of Charles' recordings.
The special includes: A yet to be released recording of "It Hurts to Be In Love;" a never-before seen interview at his studio not long before his passing; live video from his recording sessions for "Genius Loves Company" including his duet with Willie Nelson for "It Was a Very Good Year" and his duet with Elton John for "Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word; an amazing performance of "Ring of Fire" on the Johnny Cash Show; and a tour of his private recording studio in LA including his wardrobe, chessboard and personal Braille address book and magazines. The many interviewees in the program include Clint Eastwood, Bill Cosby, Fran Drescher, Elton John, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Quincy Jones, Ben Harper, Common, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, B.B. King, Taylor Hackford, Glen Campbell, Tom Waits and Norman Lear.
Born Ray Charles Robinson on September 23, 1930 in Albany, GA, he began to lose his sight at 5 years of age and was completely blind by 7. Despite his blindness and growing up dirt-poor and ultimately orphaned, Ray Charles went on to achieve more than almost any musician in American history. He refused to acknowledge the racial boundaries placed on popular music and melded jazz with country, blues with orchestral music, and gospel with pop. Nicknamed "The Genius," Charles was a vocalist, performer, songwriter, bandleader and arranger who played keyboards and reeds. He also was an astute businessman who took the unprecedented action of insisting upon artistic control and ownership of his own master recordings, formed his own publishing companies and his own record labels. Charles died June 10, 2004, two months before the release of his final album "Genius Loves Company," at age 73. The album, which featured duets with singers such as B.B. King, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Johnny Mathis and others, won eight Grammy Awards.
In addition to the BIO premiere, "Ray Charles America" will be featured at the Woodstock Film Festival on October 3rd, 2010 and premiere internationally at the IDFA in Amsterdam this November. Additional 80th celebration events include: the official opening of the Ray Charles Memorial Library in Los Angeles on September 23; the release of "Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters," a new album featuring newly found recordings including a duet with Johnny Cash on October 26' and the opening of the Broadway production of "Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Musical" in Spring 2011.
"Ray Charles America" is produced by Morgan Neville of Tremolo Productions and Alexis Spraic. Tony Gumina and Valerie Ervin serve as executive producers. Alexis Spraic is Director. Robert Sharenow and Andy Berg are executive producers for BIO.
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