Inspired by Ray: The Ray Charles Symposium

Panelists And Performers

Ricky Skaggs

Bluegrass great Ricky Skaggs, who collaborated with Ray Charles on the title track of Charles's Friendship album, has won 14 Grammy Awards as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and composer. Versed in both traditional and progressive bluegrass and country, he's performed with dozens of other groundbreaking musicians and bands, including Flatt & Scruggs, Country Gentlemen, Boone Creek, Rodney Crowell, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Emmylou Harris. In the 1980s, Skaggs had a string of No. 1 hits and successful albums including Sweet Temptation and Waitin' for the Sun to Shine. A bona fide bluegrass icon, Skaggs continues to make music with his band, Kentucky Thunder.

John Scofield

John Scofield's guitar work has influenced jazz since the late 1970s and is going strong today. With his distinctive sound and stylistic diversity, Scofield is a masterful jazz improviser whose music generally falls somewhere between post-bop, funk-edged jazz, and R&B. Born in Ohio and raised in suburban Connecticut, Scofield took up the guitar at age 11, inspired by both rock and blues players, and later attended Berklee. After a debut recording with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, Scofield was a member of the Billy Cobham-George Duke band for two years. In 1977 he recorded with Charles Mingus and joined the Gary Burton quartet. He began his international career as a bandleader and recording artist in 1978. From 1982 to 1985, Scofield toured and recorded with Miles Davis. His Davis stint placed him firmly in the foreground of jazz consciousness as a player and composer.

Raul Midón

Blind singer-songwriter and guitarist Raul Midón is a unique musician. His singular soul/pop/jazz sound garnered him a standing ovation during his television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman and an open invitation back to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno following his appearances there. This talented, mesmerizing, genre-defying artist has traveled the globe from India to Indiana spreading the message that you can do it: you can be yourself and be recognized and be bold. With three major label records under his belt—State of Mind, A World Within a World, and Synthesis—and countless appearances both on television worldwide and on other artists' records, he is a pro and more a part of the musical landscape than you might realize. Not only have the music lovers of the world recognized Midón's gifts, but so have some of the greatest musicians in recent history. You might have seen him featured in the recent documentary on Bill Withers, Still Bill, the Herbie Hancock documentary, Possibilities, or in the documentary of the legendary producer Arif Mardin, All My Friends Are Here, where he declares that Midón is the only artist he ever signed to a label. People magazine calls him an "eclectic adventurist," and the New York Times describes Midón as an "unreconstructed hippie." Guitar magazine describes him as "one of those rare musical forces that reminds us how strong and deep the connection between man and music can sometimes be." Midón will delight you with his wit and musical virtuosity.

Donna McElroy

Donna McElroy is a voice professor at Berklee. She's been an arranger and background vocalist on the gold and platinum releases "Why Haven't I Heard From You?" by Reba McEntire; "We Shall Be Free" by Garth Brooks; "Addictive Love" by BeBe and CeCe Winans; and "House of Love" by Amy Grant. She is the recipient of a Grammy nomination for Bigger World, a Dove Award for Songs from the Loft, and a 1993 Best Actress Award for the Circle Players' performance of Sister Mary Regina (Nunsense). Her television appearances include Arsenio Hall, Tonight Show, and the Grammy Awards.

Victor Vanacore

Grammy Award–winner Victor Vanacore has been at the nexus of popular music for more than 25 years. Widely respected for his versatility, he has had a long history of fruitful collaborations with the biggest names in the entertainment industry as a conductor, pianist, composer, and arranger. Vanacore has had numerous associations with celebrity vocalists. He served as conductor, keyboardist, and musical arranger for the Jackson 5 as well as conductor and arranger for the 5th Dimension. Not long afterward, Johnny Mathis hired him as musical director for his world tour. He joined Barry Manilow for six years in the same capacity, receiving album credits including If I Should Love Again, Barry Live in Britain, Barry, and The Greatest Hits. More recent recording projects have included collaborations with Natalie Cole, Teena Marie, George Benson, and Dave Koz. Additionally, Vanacore enjoyed a close ongoing relationship with musical icon Ray Charles, whom he met in 1990. They remained colleagues and friends until Charles's passing in 2004, during which time he served as his musical director, arranger, and opening act. Charles's only platinum album, Genius Loves Company, features Vanacore's orchestral arrangements, including the Grammy-winning "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," with special guest Johnny Mathis.

Tracy Bonham

A native of Eugene, Oregon, Bonham began singing at age 5, playing the violin at 9, and piano at age 14. After attending the University of Southern California in violin performance and studying jazz vocals at Berklee College of Music, she started her own band and began writing songs. She proved to be a quick study. Her 1996 major label debut, The Burdens of Being Upright, went gold, spawning the hit single "Mother Mother," and lead to a pair of Grammy nominations for Best Female Vocalist and Best Alternative Rock Performance. Bonham has released two subsequent LP records with two EPs and has toured the world many times. She has appeared on TV shows such as the Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and Late Late with Craig Fergusson, among others. Bonham has also appeared as guest vocalist / violinist with artists such as Blue Man Group, Juliana Hatfield, Ron Sexsmith, Aerosmith, Wayfaring Strangers, Latin Playboys, NoBlues from the Netherlands, Soulwax from Belgium, Mark Oliver Everet of The Eels, and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. Her newest release is called Masts of Manhattan.

Margaret Glaspy

Born and raised in Northern California, Margaret Glaspy has brought her indescribable voice to the East Coast and New York City couldn't be happier. Having performed nationwide in venues including the Kennedy Center, Severance Hall, and the Ziegfeld Theatre, she's also made herself a local must-see in the Big Apple. With a list of influences including Oumou Sangaré, Feist, Jeff Buckley, and Nina Simone, she has created a sound and writing style that is undeniable, honest, and a tribute to the beautiful music that she has discovered throughout her 23 years.

Doug Wamble

Born in Clarksville, Tennessee, Doug Wamble has performed with Madeleine Peyroux, Wynton Marsalis, and Cassandra Wilson. Branford Marsalis signed him to the fledgling Marsalis Music label and issued Wamble's first two solo recordings, Country Libations and Bluestate. His new recording, Doug Wamble, features guest artists including guitarist Charlie Hunter, singer/violinist Carrie Rodriguez, and trumpeter Steven Bernstein, among others. The focal points of the new album are clearly Wamble's versatile songwriting and his warm, soulful singing talents that have gradually emerged over the past decade.

Event Producer

Matt Glaser

Matt Glaser is the artistic director of the American Roots Music Program at Berklee College of Music. Prior to this appointment, he served as the chairman of the String Department at Berklee for 28 years. He has performed widely in a variety of idioms ranging from jazz to bluegrass to early music. He has published four books on contemporary violin styles including Jazz Violin coauthored with the late Stephane Grappelli. He has written for many newspapers and music magazines including the Village Voice, Strings,and Acoustic Musician. He has performed with Stephane Grappelli, David Grisman, Lee Konitz, Bob Dylan, J. Geils, Leo Kottke, Joe Lovano,Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Kenny Werner, Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, the Waverly Consort, Fiddle Fever, and most recently with Wayfaring Strangers, a band that fuses jazz and folk music. The Boston Herald called him "possibly America's most versatile violinist." Glaser served on the board of advisors of the Ken Burns documentary Jazz, and appears in the film as an expert. He served on the board of directors of Chamber Music America and the American String Teachers Association. He has performed at the White House and Carnegie Hall.


Bill Banfield

Bill Banfield currently serves as professor of Africana Studies/ Music and Society and as director of Africana Studies programs at Berklee College of Music. Banfield's works have been commissioned, performed, and recorded by orchestras including the National, Atlanta, Dallas, Akron, Detroit, New York Virtuoso, Grand Rapids, Akron, Richmond, Toledo, Savannah, Indianapolis, Sacramento, and San Diego symphonies. In 2002, he served as a W.E.B. Dubois fellow at Harvard and was invited by Toni Morrison to serve as visiting Atelier Artist 2003. His music has been performed and/or recorded by; Bobby McFerrin, Patrice Rushen, Don Byron, Leon Bates, Najee, Ron Carter, Delfeayo Marsalis, Oliver Lake, Regina Carter, Rachel Z, Jon Fadis, Marcus Belgrave, Billy Childs, Nneena Freelon, Alphoso Johnson, Ndugu Chancelor, and Nelson Rangel.

Marcus Belgrave

Marcus Belgrave is Detroit’s internationally recognized jazz trumpet great. He came to prominence in the late 1950s, touring and recording with Ray Charles, at the height of Charles’s hit-making era. Belgrave is heard as a trumpet soloist on some of Charles’s most famous hit albums and singles.


DuPor Georges

Trombonist DuPor Georges has extensive performance experience nationally and internationally, with a number of bands, orchestras and entertainers including the Ray Charles Orchestra, Melton Mustafa Orchestra, Count Basie Orchestra, Illinois Jacquet Big Band, Jimmy Heath Big Band, Charles Mingus Big Band, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, and Gladys Knight. Georges has played on the T.S. Monk Jazz Institute Piano Competition at the Kennedy Center, and on the Black & Blue Broadway Show and European Tour. In addition, he has performed as a recording artist on Verve, Candid, and Jive Records.

Renée Georges

With a voice that is warm, sultry, and melodic, Los Angeles-based former Raelett Renée Georges's sound is rooted in gospel music. Her professional musical journey began while working for an L.A. talent agent, when on a chance she sent a résumé with a recording of her voice to the management company of an artist she greatly admired. Her timing was right, and she landed a spot touring with the legendary Ray Charles and his orchestra. This experience prepared Georges for future work as an arts contributor, sharing the lessons that she acquired from Charles, as well as imparting a wealth of knowledge from previous years working in the entertainment industry.

Tony Gumina

Tony Gumina is the president of the Cleveland-based Ray Charles Marketing Group, the company that handles many of the licensing affairs for the Ray Charles Foundation. After a twenty-year career in the casino and lottery industries, Gumina joined the Ray Charles organization in 1999. In 2005, he formed the Ray Charles Marketing Group and has since commissioned over sixty licenses that use the recorded music, published musical compositions, name, and image of the legendary Ray Charles.

Katrina Harper

Katrina Harper toured the world with as a Raelett with the Ray Charles Orchestra after Charles heard her sing and was impressed with her vocal talent. Charles also invited her to sing a duet with him on his soulful arrangement of the Rodgers and Hammerstein song “People Will Say We’re In Love.” She toured with Charles until his final show in June 2003. Harper is now lead singer for the band Gonzo’s Funky Family conducted by drummer Daniel “Gonzo” Gonzalez, which performs throughout the New York City area. She is also continuing her work as an actress and songwriter, composing songs for her own album project.

Ivan Hoffman

Ivan Hoffman has been practicing entertainment and intellectual property law for over 39 years. He initially represented Ray Charles from 1971 until 1990 and has represented the Ray Charles Foundation since 2006. Hoffman represents clients in matters related to the music and recording industry, copyrights, trademarks, licensing, and contracts.


Chi Gook Kim

Chi Gook Kim, Berklee alumnus and assistant professor of music therapy, teaches a groundbreaking class on assistive music technology for visually impaired students at Berklee. His class incorporates digital audio workstations, notation software, and Braille music. The class was featured in major press such as Boston Globe and The Chronicle of Higher Education. As a producer, he participated in Stars Sing Out, an EMI album featuring the artists, Lily Allen, K. T. Tunstall, and Moby. As a composer, Kim has scored a number of independent films, including It Strikes Twice and Running from the Devil, both of which were featured at international film festivals.

Allen Lowe

Allen Lowe is a saxophonist, guitarist, and American music historian who has recorded with Julius Hemphill, David Murray, Don Byron, Marc Ribot, Roswell Rudd, Matthew Shipp, Lewis Porter, and Doc Cheatham. His last CD, Blues and the Empirical Truth, placed on a number of top ten lists for 2011, and was picked in the New Republic's Top 15. He is working on a new recording project with JD Allen, Jon-Erik Kellso, Matthew Shipp, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Randy Sandke, Ursula Oppens, Noah Preminger, and others.

Lowe has written several books on American pop, jazz, and the blues: American Pop from Minstrel to Mojo; That Devilin' Tune: A Jazz History 1900-1950; God Didn't Like It: Electric Hillbillies, Singing Preachers, and the Beginning of Rock and Roll, 1950-1970; and most recently, Really the Blues? A Blues History, 1893-1959. For all of these that were issued with compact discs sets Lowe did all mastering and sound restoration. He has also done sound work for Rhino, Shout, Rykodisc, Sony, Michael Feinstein, Terry Gross (Fresh Air), Venus Records, and others

Michael Lydon

Michael Lydon is the author of Ray Charles: Man and Music, a book that reviewers have called the definitive biography of "the genius." A Boston native, Lydon studied clarinet at the South End Music School as a teenager, and is now a writer and musician who lives in New York City. A founding editor of Rolling Stone and author of Rock Folk, Boogie Lightning, and How to Play Classic Jazz Guitar, Lydon has written for the Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, and Village Voice. He is also a songwriter, playwright, and a member of ASCAP, AFofM local 802.

Dave Marash

In more than 50 years in the broadcast news business, Dave Marash has done many jobs: anchor, correspondent, analyst, play-by-play man, in local, network, and global TV and radio. He was won several awards, including a Du Pont, an Overseas Press Club, and 11 Emmy Awards for coverage ranging from war in Bosnia, to HIV in Zimbabwe, to terrorism, domestic and international, to the corruption of a major sewer project on Long Island, and the music of Washington, D.C. Recently Marash has been teaching video journalism and studying and consulting on the renaissance of video journalism worldwide.

Tonette McKinney

Tonette McKinney’s work as a member of the Raeletts for Ray Charles and the Ray Charles Orchestra has been the highlight of her career. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana and later moving to Los Angeles, California, McKinney has been singing and performing since the age of nine. After relocating to California she performed with a number of recording and performing artists.


Jay Peterson

Jay Peterson has been performing classic country western music since the early 1970s, when he was introduced to the music of Hank Williams, Bob Wills, and Patsy Cline by the driver of the bookmobile in his boyhood home of Anoka, Minnesota. Since that summer nearly 40 years ago, he has turned his musical attention backwards—as a historian, as host of a radio show The Rhythm Ranch, and as a performer—to the rich reservoir of country music as it was from the 1930s to the early 1960s. On his Greetings from Paradise Ranch he serves up songs from obscure Texas swing and cowboy yodeling to late '50s honky-tonk, with a dose of Bessie Smith and Louis Jordan thrown in for good measure. His most recent recording project is a double CD tribute to the last Utah Phillips, Singing Through the Hard Times, on Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe label.

Peterson lives in eastern Maine and performs with his two musical children, runs a small sign business, and has lectured on country music history at such institutions as Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Southern Maine, and universities in Arizona, Colorado, and Minnesota. He is a veteran performer on NPR's A Prairie Home Companion, and also designed the Powdermilk Biscuit logo for the show in 1970. Peterson's own radio show can be heard Fridays on

Renald Richard

Renald Richard is a professional trumpet player and lyricist who joined the Ray Charles band in 1954, serving as Charles’s first band leader and solo trumpeter. He cowrote “I Got a Woman” with Charles in the back seat of a car on the way to a gig. It went on to become Charles’s first no. 1 hit. Richard went on to write songs that have been recorded by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley.

Loren Schoenberg

Loren Schoenberg began piano lessons at the age of four. He interest in jazz led him to become a jazz historian, working at the New York Jazz Museum. In 1974, he began playing tenor saxophone and within two years was playing professionally. Schoenberg has worked with a many swing greats including Benny Goodman. In 1980, he began leading a big band. Since then the increasingly distinctive soloist has recorded a series of excellent swing-oriented records for Aviva and Music Masters, both with his big band and with a combo.

Curt Sobel

Emmy Award-winner Curt Sobel is a respected Hollywood music editor, supervisor and composer having over 125 films to his credit. He has been associated with Oscar-recognized films such as Ray, The Bourne Ultimatum, Finding Neverland, Speed, An Officer and a Gentleman, The Insider, and Nine. Sobel has worked with highly gifted film composers including Tom Newman, James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman, John Powell, Dave Grusin, Michel Legrand, Chris Young, Craig Armstrong, Bruce Broughton, Bill Conti, and Jack Nitzsche. Artists he has worked closely with include Ray Charles, Prince, Jamie Foxx, Donald Fagen, Santana, Los Lobos, Keith Richards, Chuck Berry, Cher, and Dr. John. Directors include Taylor Hackford, Francis Coppola, George Lucas, Robert DeNiro, Barry Levinson, Bryan Singer, Ivan and Jason Reitman, and Rob Marshall. Sobel worked on the film Ray as the Music Supervisor and won the Broadcast Film Critics Award for Best Soundtrack along with the Golden Reel Award for Best Music Editing. He graduated from Berklee and was honored with the 2001 Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions to film music and role as mentor to young film and composing students.

Daryl Stewart

For more than 30 years, Daryl Stewart has worked in multiple aspects of music business. He has served as agent (Regency artists, Triad Artists, William Morris Agency), manager (Shalamar, Gerald Albright, M'Shell Ndegeocello), tour manager (Ray Charles, Barry White, Randy Crawford, Whispers, Hole), tour accountant (Lollapalooza), production manager (Molson Ice Polar Beach Party), and corporate talent buyer (MGD "Blind Date" concert series). Stewart is now Managing Partner of DCS Investments, a theatrical production house.

Peter Turre

In March of 1978, drummer Peter Turre began touring full-time with the man who would have the biggest musical impact on his life, Ray Charles. He had first met Charles as a teenager, when his brother, trombonist Steve Turre, toured with Charles for a year. Upon joining Charles's band, a deep musical and personal bond quickly formed. For nineteen of the next twenty-six years, until Charles's death in 2004, Turre performed in thousands of concerts as Charles's drummer and musical director. These dates included performances in all fifty states, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Asia, and Africa. Turre has performed for multiple U.S. Presidents, kings, queens and other heads of state as well as at venues such as the Kremlin, the Roman Coliseum , the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, and Atlanta's Olympic Stadium.

Lawrence Watson

Lawrence Watson is a modern-day Paul Robeson. He is currently a professor of ensembles at Berklee College of Music and the resident artist at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at the Harvard Law School. Watson has performed with Al Green, Smokey Robinson, Oleta Adams, Little Richard, Gladys Knight, the Neville Brothers, Tata Vega, Jean Carne, and the Boston Pops. He has also been the soloist at several events honoring three Supreme Court justices, the Governors Conference, Colin Powell, Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton, Desmond Tutu, and Barack Obama.