Celebrate this 4th of July with a great American hero. Ray Charles’ unique vision blended the best of jazz and R&B, gospel and soul, country and pop into distinctive music that forever changed the American soundscape. This two hour American Routes special includes our exclusive interviews with Ray and those closest to him, tracing the radiant arc of his life and music. Voices include: Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler; saxophonist and bandleader, David “Fathead” Newman; singer and Raelette Mable John; Ray’s chauffeur and assistant of more than forty years Vernon Troupe; his ex-wife and confidante Della Bea Robinson; and producer-engineer Terry Howard. Hear Ray’s classics and the stories behind them, as well as his songs by Elvis, Percy Mayfield, Willie Nelson and others.
The legendary Bobby “Blue” Bland talks about his life in the blues and his approach to singing. And we visit summer roadside attractions, from an old candy store in Maine to a bait shop on the Florida Gulf Coast. Summertime music by Les Paul & Mary Ford, Burning Spear, Sidney Bechet and Mississippi John Hurt.
On our Father’s Day show we’ll talk with musical fathers & sons: polka kings Eddie Blazonczyk Jr. & Sr., and blues greats Tabby Thomas & Chris Thomas King. Also music for daddy-o’s by Horace Silver, Johnny Cash, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Gene Austin and Regina Carter.
Meld the worlds of sound and vision as the work and life of North Carolina to Harlem visual artist Romare Bearden is remembered by Branford Marsalis, jazz writer Robert O’Meally, and cultural critic and Bearden confidante Albert Murray. Plus we visit New Orleans “optical jazz” artist John T. Scott and blues photographer and raconteur Dick Waterman.
Celebrate June weddings with the late New Orleans singer and legend Ernie K-Doe. With matrimonial music by Cab Calloway, Jonathan Richman and Marilyn Monroe, and the musical couplings of George Jones & Tammy Wynette, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, and more.