The Grand Ole Opry, in association with the Ray Charles Foundation, celebrated the songs of Ray Charles and the influence the revolutionary artist had on country music last night (Oct. 8) with a special Monday night show, “An Opry Salute to Ray Charles.” The event was taped for a television special that will premiere in February 2019 on public television stations nationwide.
Hosted by Opry member Darius Rucker, the event united two iconic entities with unique collaborations and special performances of Charles’ music, performed by a star-studded lineup including Boyz II Men, Cam, Brett Eldredge, Leela James, Jessie Key, Ronnie Milsap, Lukas Nelson, LeAnn Rimes, Allen Stone, Travis Tritt, Charlie Wilson, and Chris Young.
Rucker addressed the packed audience at the beginning of the show stating, “As a Grand Ole Opry member I am moved to see the Opry recognize Ray and the magnitude of his contribution to country music. Both the Grand Ole Opry and Ray shared the same vision—to bridge musical genres.”
Trisha Yearwood contributed a memorable rendition of “You Don’t Know Me” that was taped for inclusion in the television special. A powerful all-star collaboration of “America The Beautiful” performed by all of the artists closed out the show with an uplifting message of unity.
“Ray Charles had a deep love for country music. I know he would have been extremely proud and grateful for all of the artists who joined us this evening to pay tribute. Without the passion and support of executive producer Steve Buchanan and the entire Opry family for championing this special, we would not have been able to bring Ray’s legacy to the Opry stage,” said Valerie Ervin, President, Ray Charles Foundation.
Sally Williams, SVP & GM, Grand Ole Opry, stated, “The Opry was thrilled to salute Ray Charles and his passion for the music and storytelling of country music. The performers tonight demonstrated what Ray understood so well—that music has no bounds.”
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