Concord Music Group today announced that it has entered into an exclusive arrangement with the Ray Charles Foundation to develop the artist’s post-1960 catalog, which contains his classic work for the ABC and Tangerine labels. Many of the masters will be made available digitally for the first time ever, including such iconic recordings as “Georgia On My Mind,” “Hit the Road Jack” and “Crying Time” among many others.
The reissue program will kick off with the digital-only release of Charles’ The Spirit of Christmas and will continue in March 2009 with the release of a yet-untitled definitive hits collection. Throughout the rest of 2009, Concord will reissue six key catalog albums as well as some digital-only exclusives.
The Spirit of Christmas, which was released originally in 1985 on Columbia Records, features such holiday standards as “What Child Is This,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” The reissue includes the bonus track “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a duet with Betty Carter, recorded in 1961. The digital-only release will be made available on November 25, 2008 at iTunes and all other digital outlets. The album will come out as a physical product in time for the 2009 Christmas season.
In March, Concord will release a definitive retrospective volume featuring 21 chart-topping Ray Charles hits including the aforementioned “Georgia on My Mind,” and “Hit the Road Jack,” plus “Busted,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Sticks and Stones,” “Drown in My Own Tears,” “Unchain My Heart,” “I’ve Got a Woman,” “You Are My Sunshine” and “Take These Chains From My Heart,” just to name a few.
As 2009 progresses, several other titles will see the light. Among the highlights are the Starbucks Opus Anthology, to be available at the coffee retailer; Modern Sounds in Country Western Music, Vol. 1 & 2; The Genius Hits the Road; Genius + Soul = Jazz; Berlin, 1962; plus the late fall physical CD release of The Spirit of Christmas.
The ambitious reissue initiative continues Concord Music Group’s association with Ray Charles. 2004’s Genius Loves Company was the winner of eight Grammy® Awards, including Best Album. Concord has also released Ray Sings, Basie Swings in 2006, a previously unavailable recording featuring Charles with the Count Basie Orchestra.
John Burk, Concord Music Group exec VP of A&R stated, “Ray Charles is one of America’s most iconic and treasured voices. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to once again present Ray’s music with the reverence and respect it deserves and continue our dynamic partnership with Val Ervin and everyone at the Ray Charles Foundation.”
“It makes perfect sense for Concord to continue to bring Ray’s music to his audience and to create new listeners,” said Valerie Ervin, President of the Ray Charles Foundation. “Concord was Ray’s definition of a record company. He was impressed with the staff’s genuine love for music and their innovative marketing approach.”