Friday, June 18, 2004

Ray Charles' Funeral

Listening to the funeral right now, NPR recorded it this morning and in L.A. is playing it this evening. If NPR or NPR stations offer it online, I recommend giving a listen. It's a couple of hours (so far) long.

Jesse Jackson gave a splendid invocation. But of course, the music is the best part.

The Crenshaw High School choir was unbelievable. About 10 seconds into their first song, I decided I hadn't heard right. These were pros, not kids.

Wrong, it was a high school choir. A spectacular choir.

Joe Adams, Ray's manager, was emcee(see Hungry Blues' for a story of Adams and Charles and the civil rights movement). Willie Nelson sang Georgia. Willie told about losing at cards to Ray, and Willie asking, "Ray, next game, can we turn on the lights?"

B.B. King talked quite a while (through tears) before he played, that was nice.

Now Wynton Marsalis is playing Precious Lord, New Orleans funeral style. The NPR folk turned it down to talk to us, bummer.

Now he picks it up (yeah! also New Orleans style) and plays Down by the Riverside.

Then a recording (recordings at funerals seem extra sad to me, I don't like it) of Johnny Mathis and Ray singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. They opened the casket for a viewing, then off to the cemetery in Inglewood.

Too wonderful. I'm sad the funeral is over.

Thanks again, Ray.