Ray Charles great piece of news: On August 31, 2004, Concord Records and Hear Music will release "Genius Loves Company", the final recording by the legendary Ray Charles. The historic CD features twelve duets with an array of artists, from virtually every music genre. "Genius Loves Company" was recorded over a period of one year and completed in March 2004, just prior to Charles' passing.
The release of this landmark recording marks the beginning of an ongoing relationship between Hear Music, the voice of music at Starbucks, and Concord Records to produce and distribute new recordings.
During a career that spanned nearly six decades, Ray Charles, an original inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, appeared on nearly 250 recordings. While he performed with various artists, "Genius Loves Company" will be his first full album of duets.
The album includes performances with some of today's most accomplished and respected entertainers. The 12-time Grammy Award-winning artist handpicked the songs featured on Genius Loves Company, such as "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" (Elton John), "Sinner's Prayer" (B.B. King), "Here We Go Again" (Norah Jones), "It Was A Very Good Year" (Willie Nelson) and "Fever" (Natalie Cole).
With a variety of musical genres represented, from Gospel and Blues to Jazz and Pop, the recording exhibits the emotion and cross-genre styling that helped make Ray Charles one of the most influential musicians in history.
"I've been a devoted fan of Ray's since I first heard him as a kid," says Bonnie Raitt on working on "Genius Loves Company." ""Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" was one of my favorites from his Country/Western albums and I think singing it as a duet makes it even more powerful. Getting to record with Ray has been a lifelong dream and being part of this project has been one of the proudest and most moving moments in my life."
Elton John adds, "It was amazing to sit in the studio and sing with him. It's so incredibly impressive to be with someone to which music had meant so much. It was a very emotional experience."
Michael McDonald, who recorded "Hey Girl" for the CD with a full orchestra, declares, "To be singing with Ray Charles, two feet away from him, live with an orchestra was pretty unbelievable."
"Genius Loves Company" was produced by Concord Records executive vice president John Burk and Phil Ramone, and recorded for the most part at Charles historic studio in downtown Los Angeles. "It's a special privilege to say you've recorded with Ray Charles," explains Ramone. "Being immersed in and around his musicality is always a learning experience. He set the pace for all of us. The result is a joyful, heartfelt album of great music."
"Genius Loves Company" will be available in traditional retail outlets on August 31, and at Starbucks Company-operated locations and on hearmusic.com beginning September.