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Christmas Music Playlists with Ray Charles Songs
Hit The Road Jack Frost And Don’t You Skid Back No More
Factfile - Ray Charles
- Charles would sing popular songs at School assemblies including his own arrangement of Jingle Bell Boogie.
- The Ray Charles / Betty Carter version of Baby, It's Cold Outside peaked at number 91 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1962. Ray Charles also performed the duet with Dionne Warwick at the 1987 Grammy Awards.
- In the 1989 movie Christmas Vacation That Spirit Of Christmas plays in the background whilst Clark Griswold watches old movies.
- The Spirit of Christmas peaked at 42 on the US Billboard Country chart.
Ray Charles (not to be confused with Perry Como’s backing band known as the Ray Charles Singers who were unrelated) was completely blind from the age of 8 but his talent and unlimited zest for music meant that Frank Sinatra no less called him ‘the only true genius in show business’. Such accolades were well deserved but he achieved it without resorting to the season of goodwill for much of his career. His Christmas spirit would be fully realised in 1985 but by then his catalogue has stretched over 3 decades. The only songs of festive note up to that point included a duet with Betty Carter in 1961 for ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’. Now versions of Frank Loesser’s song are ten a penny but few are as genuinely affecting as this version, the warmth in the song's production is only matched by Charles husky delivery and a genuine purr in Carter's refrains. The song can be found on the otherwise non Christmassy ‘Ray Charles and Betty Carter’ album with ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ becoming a huge R&B hit at the time.
Although Charles would put Christmas on the back burner for quite a few years his music would return to the festive stage in 1978 when his ‘Christ Is Born’ composition would be recorded by The Carpenters for their ‘Christmas Portrait’ LP. It was special to the point of heavenly as you might expect. That very same year an early version of Charles' ‘Christmas Time’ (which would later appear on his 1985 Christmas album) was issued as a promo to DJ’s which meant it picked up some airplay over the holidays.
Ray Charles was 55 when his one and only studio Christmas album came along but ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ showed no sign of an artist losing his enthusiasm for recorded performance. Over 10 tracks Ray displayed all his gifts on well-loved tracks such as ‘Little Drummer Boy’, ‘Winter Wonderland’ and a particularly ebullient ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’. Mixing gospel with the blues and a dash of soul ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ was a classy piece of yuletide record making. One of the many highlights was ‘Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ with our hero sounding like he had decamped to a jazz club and swapped his red nose for an expensive pair of shades. The album’s title track was a relaxed number that so impressed that it made it onto the soundtrack for National Lampoon’s ‘Christmas Vacation’ movie in 1989.
Ray did record another Christmas album which was released in 2003 (recorded the year previous) called ‘Ray Charles Celebrates a Gospel Christmas with the Voices of Jubilation!’ This 90 minute live album was recorded with the 70-member Voice of Jubilation choir with proceeds going to the charity Save Africa’s Children. With Charles engaging in lively gospel versions of standards such as ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ this was the perfect stocking filler for Ray’s fans.
Christmas is the time of year
Ray Charles, That Spirit Of Christmas
For being with the one's we love
Sharing so much joy and cheer
What a wonderful feelin
Watching the one's we love
Having so much fun
Ray Charles Christmas Album & Single Covers