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Ray Chew and the Crew | Features

Ray Chew and the Crew SaveOurSoul artist of the Month November 2002


The baddest band in the land
Ray Chew and the Crew


Musical director, producer, writer, arranger, pianist

Ray Chew has a carreer that spans over 25 year in recording, television and live presentations. He has penned several million selling hits with Diana Ross as well as recording 6 of her albums. Ray also worked as a Musical director/Arranger with Ashford and Simpson for 20 years, recording 7 of their albums including their only live record "Performance"

In television, Ray has been a staff musician with CBS, FOX and NBC where he served as Arranger/Writer/Pianist with 'Saturday Night Live' during the "Eddie Murphy Years". He has continued his television career as Musical Director for "It's Showtime At The Apollo" as well as Musical Director for the Apollo Theatre Foundation.

Ray Chew's album discography includes: Chaka Khan, Teddy Pendergrass, Grover Washington JR., Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Spinners, Stephanie Mills and most of R&B's classic elite.

Ray has also worked with today's top contemporary artists such as: Missy Elliot, Brian McKnight, Yolanda Adams, Monica and Rakim

Some of his most recent work include arranging and orchestrating for the feature film 'Baby Boi' starring Tyrese, live string arrangements for the the Angie Stone project, 'Mahogany Soul' and live string/score arrangements for the Will Smith movie, 'Ali'. Ray worked closely with triple-platinum artist, Alicia Keys, on this score.

His company, Chew Entertainment, that he shares with his wife and partner Vivian Scott Chew, works in artist developement and support with J Records, Arista, Universal, MCA and Elektra

Ray gives to the community in a variety of ways including school programs and working with the New York City Housing Authority for over 5 years.

Ray Chew and the Crew is comprised of Ray Chew, Bobby Douglas, Ralph Rolle, Joseph Gray and Artie Reynolds. All the members are busy musicians individually as well as collectively. As a group, they also perform for the live Wednesday night Apollo Amateur Nights. They also perform as back-up band for lots of entertainers, such as Stephanie Mills and others.

Formed in 1992, Ray Chew and the Crew was created as an extension of their duties as the house band for The Apollo Theater in Harlem USA. Chew, along with original band member Bobby Douglas and Ralphe Rolle, enlisted the talents of Joseph Gray and Artie Reynolds, thus creating "the baddest band in the land"

Ray Chew and the Crew have garnered a national television audience as the house band for the syndicated television programme, "It's Showtime at the Apollo" Whether the skeptical Apollo audience is booing or applauding, the band can be heard alongside aspiring contestants for "Showtime's" weekly talent competition, "Amateur night"

In addition to their duties at the Apollo, the band have pooled their talents to creat a 12-track R&B experience through an album named "Feelin' it" Alongside Chew's effort playing keyboards, bass synthersizer, drums and a myriad of other instruments, the album's musicians include 'crew' members Ralph Rolle on drums, lead and background vocals, Artie Reynolds on bass and background vocals, Joseph Gray, singing lead and background vocals and Bobby Doulglas on the keyboards, lead and background vocals. With infusion of funk and spoken word, the album boasts guest appearances from Roy Ayers, Lekule, Sandra St. Victor and George Clinton.

While Chew is the band's primary producer, writer and arranger, each Ray Chew and the Crew musician brings their own special writing, arranging and production talents to the group. In addition to their work with The Apollo Theater, their album project and various community service activities, "Ray Chew and the Crew" have backed artists ranging from Nancy Wilson, Peabo Bryson, Regina Belle, Gerald Albright, Rakim, Kirk Whalum and Monica. They have recently shared the concert stage with Stepahnie Mills, Brian McKnight, Yolanda Adams and Kenny Latimore to name a few.


SaveOurSoul interview with Ray Chew
8 November 2002

Ray Chew: Hey how you doin'?
SaveOurSoul: Fine, how are you?
Ray: I am doing good. I'd like to say hi to everybody out there, to say shout outs from the USA, that we're feelin' everybody over there and glad to know your feelin' our record.

Sos: Listen Ray, when I read all the things you've done during your 25 musical carreer I was very impressed. Can you mention a few of the artists you worked with in past and present?
Ray: Yeah, well I've worked with a lot of great artists like Donny Hathaway and Diana Ross and Roberta Flack and Ashford & Simpson. Also I had the pleasure of working with a lot of talented new artists Alicia Keys and Brian McKnight, Missy Elliot and Faith Evans and people like that. And even classical artists like Jennifer Holiday. So I covered a lot of ground. We had a lot of great experiences. It has been very fulfilling working on my own project.

Sos: From the artist you worked with, which of them has made a major impression on you and why?
Ray: I would say Donny Hathaway made a great impression on me because he was a pure artist, he lives just for the music and everything he did was musicaly driven. He left a great mark on today's music. You have a lot of new artists that are very impressed by Donny. I am also very impressed by Alicia Keys, because she's an artist, yes she won all the Grammy awards, that deserves everything she gets, because she works very hard and I worked with her one on one, so I know how hard she works. We put a lot of man hours into just sitting on the piano, working on scales and stuff, so I am very impressed by her. I've had a lot of time to reflect on some of the people I worked with. Even with the record we did, with artistry form a legend like George Clinton and I was very happy to be in the room with him much less to have him play on the record, that was a lot of fun.

Sos: How and when did it all begin with your own group Ray Chew and The Crew?
Ray: It began with us working at the Apollo Theatre, we had a chance to we were doing the TV show Showtime at the Apollo and as the house band we come together and worked for about 10 years, and then we decided we had something musicaly to say to eachother so.. that's how it started.

Sos: Feelin' it is your new album. How would you describe the music on it?
Ray: I would describe it as classic R&B, soul and we've got a little funk on it. I'd say classic R&B is where it's at.

Sos: What do you want to achieve with this album?
Ray: What I'd like to do, I'd like to be able to touch as many people that really looking for that message, classic R&B thing. Then I'd like to tour the world with our project and come around and come to places like your town and see the people, doing an European tour, so everybody can see Ray Chew and The Crew.

Sos: You've been in the Netherlands before?
Ray: Oh yeah, I toured the world with a lot of acts and we've been in the Netherlands a lot.

Sos: You mentioned George Clinton earlier, but also Sandra St. Victor is a major artist working on your album, isn't she?
Ray: Oh, she's great! She came in and I had an idea for the song and I laid out the track and I gave her the track and then the next week she called me back and said: "Ray I've got something great" and we got together and we put donw that song and it was called "Smoke" And she just did her thing, I love Sandra.

Sos: What is your favorite song on the album Ray?
Ray: I don't know if I have a favorite cause they are all my little babies, you know. I have songs that cuts me at different parts of the day. And then sometimes I have to put on a cut called "Praise", and I don't try to get religious to anybody, but I like to have a spiritual connection between me, my music and my maker. At different part of the day I just like to pray say thank you and praise, and that's not to say that I'm trying to be a gospel artist or anything but I do make a point of doing that. "Smoke" is one of my favorite cuts and so is the song featuring George Clinton "Booty Juize"

Sos: Where are you now?
Ray: I am on my way, we're doing an Apollo tour right now, were touring the country doing a version of amateur night all over the place with the whole Apollo crew. So we took everybody from the Apollo and we put them on the plane and got'em on the bus. Right now I am on the bus in California on our way to do a show, and so were having fun. We have a comedian with us. Also we are doing some shows. We also perform with classic artist Stephanie Mills. We're working with her.

Sos: If I come to NY I will see you at the Apollo theatre in Harlem, that is if you haven't been to Europe first.
Ray: They are planning on bringing us over to Europe. And ofcourse we have to stop in the Netherlands. If we come over to your part of the world than I have to make sure I find Sandra St. Victor and we do a show in the Netherlands, Ray Chew and the Crew featuring Sandra St. Victor.

Sos: Thank you very much
Ray: Thank you and you all take care.

Copyright © 2002, SaveOurSoul

Feelin' it
Blue Crystal (Ray Chew)
Artist Album Credits
Ashford & Simpson Send It (1977) Clavinet
Fender Rhodes
Ashford & Simpson Is It Still Good to Ya (1978) Synthesizer
Fender Rhodes
Rhythm Arrangements
Ashford & Simpson Gospel According to Ashford &... (1996)
Piano (Electric)
Fender Rhodes
Rhythm A
Ashford & Simpson Very Best of Ashford & Simpson (2002) Synthesizer
Rhythm Arrangements
Mini Moog
Angela Bofill Angel of the Night (1979) Arranger
Piano (Electric)
Horn Arrangements
String Arrangements
Willie Colón Criollo (1984) Piano
Dunn & Bruce Street Official Business (1982) Synthesizer
Horn Arrangements
Enchantment Enchanted Lady (1982) Horn Arrangements
String Arrangements
Jon Faddis Good and Plenty (1978) Piano
Roberta Flack Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway (1972) Strings
Roberta Flack & Donnie... Roberta Flack Featuring Donnie... (1980) Keyboards
Roberta Flack Softly With These Songs: The Best... (1993) Strings
Funky Poets True to Life (1993) Bass
Fender Rhodes
GQ Disco Nights (1979) Strings
Gloria Gaynor I Am What I Am (1996) Fender Rhodes
Terri Gonzalez Hunger for Your Love (1980) Arranger
Eddy Grant Going for Broke (1984) Score
Gwen Guthrie Lifeline (1988) Synthesizer
Bobbi Humphrey Good Life (1979) Piano
Joey Jay & Norman Jay Good Times, Vol. 2 (2001) Fender Rhodes
Howard Johnson Gravity!!! (1995) Piano
Gladys Knight & the Pips Touch (1981) Fender Rhodes
Rhythm Arrangements
Gladys Knight & the Pips Best of Gladys Knight & the Pips... (2001) Arranger
Fender Rhodes
Ky-Mani Journey (1999) Keyboards
Barrington Levy Barrington (1993) Organ
Miss Jones Other Woman (1998) Producer
Miss Jones Other Woman [Bonus Track] (1998) Arranger
Melba Moore What a Woman Needs (1981) Keyboards
Odyssey Hang Together (1980) Synthesizer
Teddy Pendergrass It's Time for Love/This One's for... (1999) Guitar
Diana Ross Boss (1979) Arranger
Fender Rhodes
Rhythm Arrangements
Diana Ross Why Do Fools Fall in Love? (1981) Keyboards
Diana Ross All the Great Hits (1981) Rhythm Arrangements
Diana Ross Endless Love [US] (1981) Arranger
Diana Ross Silk Electric (1982) Keyboards
Diana Ross Diana's Duets (1982) Keyboards
Diana Ross Greatest Hits: The RCA Years (1997) Arranger
Diana Ross Motown Anthology (2001) Rhythm Arrangements
Diana Ross Reach Out and Touch: The Very Best (2002) Horn Arrangements
String Arrangements
Saturday Night Live Band Saturday Night Live Band Piano
Ray Simpson Tiger Love (1978) Moog Synthesizer
Candi Staton Young Hearts Run Free (1976) Keyboards
Horn Arrangements
String Arrangements
Candi Staton Chance (1979) Keyboards
Candi Staton Best of Candi Staton [Warner... (1995) Keyboards
Angie Stone Mahogany Soul (2001) Conductor
String Arrangements
T-Connection Everything Is Cool (1981) Arranger
T-Connection Best of T-Connection: Everything's (1997) Arranger
Vocals (bckgr)
Tashan On the Horizon (1989) Keyboards
Big Mama Thornton Ball N' Chain (1968) Piano
Teri Thornton I'll Be Easy to Find (1999) Piano
Iyanla VanZant In the Meantime: The Music That... (1999) Arranger
Multi Instruments
Jackie Verdell Lay My Burden Down (1994)  
Grover Washington, Jr. Winelight (1980) Clavinet
Grover Washington, Jr. Incontournables (2000) Clavinet
Kim Waters Peaceful Journey (1993) Keyboards
Kim Waters Best of Kim Waters (2001) Producer
The Weather Girls Success (1983) Keyboards
Horn Arrangements
Rhythm Arrangements
Deniece Williams This Is My Song (1998) Strings
Original Soundtrack Fame [Polydor Soundtrack] (1980) Piano
Original Soundtrack Steel (1997) String Arrangements
Original Soundtrack Baby Boy (2001) Horn Arrangements
String Arrangements
Original Soundtrack Baby Boy [Clean] (2001) Horn Arrangements
String Arrangements
Original TV Soundtrack New York Undercover: A Night at... (1998)  
Various Artists Do You Love Me?: All-Time Best... (1996) Arranger
Various Artists Rhythm of the Games: 1996 Olympic... (1996) Keyboards
Various Artists Get Lucky (1996) Piano
Various Artists I Like It (1996) Keyboards
Various Artists Sex & Soul, Vol. 3 (1997) Arranger
Various Artists Soul Train Christmas Starfest (1997) Keyboards
String Arrangements
Various Artists In the Spirit [M.I.L.] (1997) Arranger
Various Artists Philadelphia Uncovered (1999) Arranger