It was 1972, the turbulent ‘60s were winding down, and the music world was about to fork off in several directions: the soft rock of James Taylor and Carole King, the outlaw country of Waylon and Willie and soon . . . Disco.
America was on people’s minds: Don McLean with “American Pie” and there was even a band named America. Our nation was at war in Vietnam; we had landed on the moon. African-Americans were emboldened and encouraged by the progress they were achieving. The album A Message From the People, produced by Ray and recorded at his RPM International Studio, contained a song that did not chart at the time, but went on to become one of his best loved recordings: “America the Beautiful”. He would perform it countless times on TV and in live concert for the rest of his life.
“Mr. Charles wanted A Message From the People to include 'America the Beautiful' because of his tremendous love for our country,” stated Valerie Ervin, President of the Ray Charles Foundation. “Throughout his career he performed 'America' at a Super Bowl, a World Series game and for seven U.S. Presidents”, she added.
The songs Ray selected include “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, also known as the Black National Anthem; Dion DiMucci’s hit, “Abraham, Martin and John”; “Stevie Wonder’s plea for brotherly love, “Heaven Help Us All”; “John Denver’s loving ode to America’s heartland, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”; and Melanie’s “Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma,” which was also a hit single for Ray. Ray even came up with the idea for the album’s cover featuring the faces of Abe Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King and Jack and Bobby Kennedy, and commissioned artist Al Willis to bring it to fruition.
As of April 7, the entire post-1960 catalog of Ray Charles classic recordings became available for digital download for the first time ever. These are some of America’s most cherished and requested recordings by America’s greatest artist of the second half of the 20th century. Included are such iconic tracks as the #1 hits “Georgia on My Mind,” “Hit the Road Jack,” “One Mint Julep,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Unchain My Heart,” “You Are My Sunshine,” “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” as well as “Busted,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “Together Again,” and many more. (© Concord Music Group)
Label: ABC Records
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Genre: Funk / Soul, Jazz
Style: Soul-Jazz, Swingbeat
Credits: Arranged By - Mike Post, Quincy Jones, Sid Feller
Producer - Ray Charles
Recorded at RPM/Tangerine Studios, Los Angeles.
A1 - Lift Every Voice And Sing (3:05)
A2 - Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong (4:10) (Written by Dee Ervin)
A3 - Heaven Help Us All (4:05)
A4 - There'll Be No Peace Without All Men As One (3:25)
A5 - Hey Mister (3:54)
B1 - What Have They Done To My Song, Ma (3:45) (Written by Melanie Safka)
B2 - Abraham, Martin And John (4:49)
B3 - Take Me Home, Country Roads (3:32) (Bill Danoff, John Denver, Taffy Nivert)
B4 - Every Saturday Night (3:22)
B5 - America The Beautiful (3:38)
Purchase of CD/MP3 reissue:
- Concord Music Group (CD record label)
- 7-Digital (ES)
- US Dada.net
- 7-Digital (UK)