June 20, 2016

Ray Stevens Gospel Favorites...

Good afternoon Ray Stevens fans!! I'm sure you're aware of how busy Ray's been during the last couple of weeks...the second season of his television series getting underway, for example, and then the activity that took place during the CMA Music Fest. In addition to having a booth at the event Ray performed the National Anthem during the event's final night (June 12th). A video of his performance popped up on YouTube on June 12th. Ray recorded the National Anthem back in 2010 and it can be found on his We The People album. His performance and the song's arrangement heard at the CMA Music Fest is based on the 2010 recording.

A recap of Ray's CMA activities can be found in an article published by RFD-TV and can be accessed by clicking HERE. The page also features pictures of Ray at his booth signing autographs for fans. The CMA Music Fest, for those not familiar, used to be called Fan Fair. It's still called Fan Fair by a lot of people inside the music industry and by fans alike but it's officially billed as the CMA Music Fest.

This past Friday the latest CD from Ray Stevens became available entitled Just a Closer Walk with Thee/Gospel Favorites. It features the second half of the 24 gospel songs that Ray recorded during 2013 and 2014. The first half of the 24 songs appeared on 2014's Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Volume One. I ordered my copy of the CD last Monday and it arrived in the mail today. I haven't had the chance to listen to it yet but I did glance over the credits and for those interested Ray's longtime friend/music and video collaborator/business associate Buddy Kalb authored several songs: "Something's Comin'", "Do You Hear Somebody Knockin'", and he co-wrote "Just a Touch of Jesus" with Don Cusic. As you search for the CD on-line be sure to look for that image. It's available at Amazon and on various on-line outlets that sell gospel recordings. It's available in both CD and Mp3 format. Much like his 2014 gospel CD this one isn't being sold at the official Ray Stevens music store yet. I suspect a lot of the reason Ray hasn't actually publicized this latest CD's existence is probably because the promotional campaign isn't officially underway yet. The CD having a release date on a Friday (back on June 17) is also a bit unconventional...but whatever...the CD is now available for purchase. The Mp3 can be found HERE for those that prefer to get their music loaded directly to their listening devices.

May 15, 2016

Ray Stevens Nashville, Season 2...

Hello all of you fans of Ray Stevens! If you have RFD-TV you can catch Season 2 of Ray Stevens' Nashville. It got underway a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday night's guest happened to be Bobby Goldsboro (episode 3 of Season 2). Ray's YouTube channel features commercial spots for some of the episodes. In a previous blog entry I made mention of this. On Ray's Facebook page the banner promotes the second season of his television series.

According to the RFD schedule for the next several weeks there's going to be the May 21st airing of episode 4 and then an episode from last season re-airs on May 28th before it jumps to episode 6 on June 1st. I don't know if that's a typo or if the "episode 5" installment is being held for a later airing.

You can see the upcoming air-dates by clicking HERE.

Ray competed with himself last night, too! Even though his television series aired in it's usual time slot (8:30pm Eastern) he happened to be in concert in Branson, Missouri at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center (formerly the Moon River Theatre). So, while his program was thrilling audiences from coast to coast on RFD-TV, he was simultaneously thrilling the Branson audiences with a concert.

Jimmy Osmond, owner of the Branson venue, posted a picture of himself standing in the middle of Ray and Don Williams (one of Andy's brothers and one of Ray's former managers).

In a little more than a month (June 17th) Ray is set to release his third gospel album. I hyped it's forthcoming release in a previous blog entry, posted an image of the CD, and later I posted a blog centering on his three gospel albums (1972, 2014, 2016). As you can see I've posted a smaller image of the CD off to the left. I imagine that once the CD is released or perhaps at the end of this month there's going to be much more advertising for it's availability. His television programs, like most other television productions, are taped in advance...maybe there's going to be an upcoming episode spotlighting the release of the CD? If you remember back to 2014 and the release of the Gospel Collection there wasn't much publicity for the CD, at first, but later on Ray began turning up on religious television programs and in gospel media...all of this culminating in his co-hosting of the Inspirational Country Music Awards gala in November 2014. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry the 2014 gospel CD happened to be specified as a Volume One. For this CD there isn't a Volume Two designation but this release is the second of 2 volumes. As you can see from the photo of the CD the official title is Just a Closer Walk with Thee/Gospel Favorites. I'm sure the CD is going to be referred to as Gospel Favorites during publicity rather than utilizing the longer portion of the title.

On the concert trail this coming Friday (May 20th) Ray is going to be performing at The Villages in Florida at The Sharon L Morse Performing Arts Center at 7pm. You can read about it HERE and click their Ticket link if you're planning on attending. At the bottom of their page it lists the venue's street address and information. Ray has also taped a brief video promo and you can see it if you click HERE. The next day he'll be putting on 2 concerts at the Blue Gate Theatre in Shipshewana, Indiana. One concert at 1pm and the second at 7:30pm. You can call the venue for ticket information: (260) 768-3021.

April 22, 2016

Ray Stevens: A Collage of Gospel...

Hello all...I've put together a collage featuring imagery of Ray Stevens gospel projects over the decades. I've only focused on the major releases and so there isn't any images of budget priced reissues or anything. Ray has recorded three gospel albums in his career. His first, Turn Your Radio On, arrived in 1972. The album featured the hit title track plus several other singles that found their way onto the Top-20 of the Adult-Contemporary chart. "A Mama and A Papa" and "All My Trials" reached the Adult-Contemporary charts in the latter half of 1971 prior to the release of "Turn Your Radio On" in late 1971 which hit the Top-20 on the Country chart in the first half of 1972.  The LP hit all of the usual English speaking countries. The international pressing of the album featured the green lettering of the album's title that you see in the collage below. The LP issued in the United States had different letter coloring.

I'm in a habit of referring to the chart as Adult-Contemporary since that's the name the chart has had since the late '70s. At the time Ray's gospel singles had their chart run the survey it was called Easy-Listening.

Ray's gospel recordings on the 1972 album seen several afterlives. In 1982 the album got reissued complete with different cover art (a contemporary, bearded Ray Stevens appeared on the cover) but the recordings are the same ones from 1972. Later, in 1992, a label named Arrival released an album called The Gospel Side of Ray Stevens. It, too, contained the recordings from 1972...the same goes for a 1996 project from Curb Records titled Great Gospel Songs. Not only did it feature the songs from the 1972 album but it also included 1970's "Everything is Beautiful" and "A Brighter Day". Later still came a CD pairing Turn Your Radio On with Ray's 1975 album, Misty.

Fast forwarding to 2014...Ray releases his second gospel album, Ray Stevens Gospel Collection. It introduced Ray to a much different audience and he participated in several gospel events and gatherings...mostly centered around the Nashville area. One of the songs from the CD, "If Jesus Is a Stranger", became a popular song in his concerts and he performed it during his select television appearances. The much anticipated follow-up is due to be released in mid June of this year...titled Just a Closer Walk with Thee...it picks up where the 2014 gospel CD left off.

The upcoming CD can be pre-ordered at AMAZON. I plan on purchasing the CD from Amazon as it gets closer to release day but for those that ant to pre-order it click that link. You can click the gospel collage to see a bigger image...