After 16 years as leader of the world-famous Apollo Theater band — Ray Chew & The Crew — musician Ray Chew is leaving the Harlem gig. The Harlem-born talent said he offered his resignation to the board of directors just before seven new members were appointed recently. Prior to his engagement with “Showtime At The Apollo,” “Amateur Night” and the myriad of special events hosted at the landmark showplace, for 25 years, Chew served as musical director to R&B duo Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Simultaneously, he also worked on three national, television shows including the popular NBC weekly, “Saturday Night Live,” “The Singing Bee” and BET’s “Sunday Best.”
Chew is also reputed for the music at Donald Trump’s Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA pageants.
Chew is reputed as one of the world’s leading session musician. He is acclaimed for establishing the musical careers of many talented singers and musicians. Some of the long list of talents he is associated, includes Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys.
Chew will now lead the band seen weekly on television’s most popular musical, reality series “American Idol.”
New board members at the Apollo Theater include singer Leslie Uggams, and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. The 27-member board comprises key leaders in business, civic, philantropy, arts and culture. Singer Chuck Jackson is also on the board chaired by Richard Parsons. Jonelle Procope is president and CEO.
Reggae loses two
The reggae fraternity is once again in mourning with the passing of two more contributors to the genre.
Telephones rang from coast to coast with news that Zola Burse died recently. Many in the Caribbean music scene became familiar with the manager in 1984 when he was named the production and tour manager for Reggae Sunsplash.
I became familiar with the decisive manager when he worked as co-ordinator for Black Radio Exclusive (BRE) Magazine’s annual conferences in California. I was a columnist for the publication and one year co-ordinated a reggae panel as part of the four-day confab.
In addition to Sunsplash, Burse also made inroads for Jamaica when the nation’s music took the spotlight at MIDEM in Cannes, France. That was 1997. when Burse helped to make Jamaica shine by serving as production manager for JAMPRO.
Burse had his real start in music in 1972 at which time he was involved with STAX Records. As time progressed, he became more involved with music production, stage coordination, and artist tour management. In 1982, he began to do stage coordination for the Grammys, American Music Awards, Soul Train Music Awards and various other TV productions through 1990. Through the involvement in these productions, Burse worked with almost every artist performing in these events. Many Jamaicans will recall his latter-day dedication to Beres Hammond.
Chicago resident Ephraim Martin, is distraught with news that his friend Glen Adams is dead. Martin honored Adams at the Apollo Theater a few years ago by presenting him an International Reggae Award for his contribution to the music. On that night, fans showered him with accolades for work he did with Ken Boothe and other prominent reggae names. Born Nov. 27, 1945, the Brooklyn resident died on Dec. 17. He was a musician, composer, arranger, engineer and producer.
Adams died at the University Hospital of the West Indies after falling ill while visiting Jamaica.
To all my loyal readers, my prayers for a safe and healthy holidays is a priority. Please postpone drinking and driving for another year. With that pledge, together we will be back on this page, ready to embrace the New Year. Most of all enjoy the season with all the mirth you can muster.
Peace and blessings always.
Catch You On The Inside!