Dancing with The Stars’ Music Director Ray Chew returns to host The HistoryMakers Year in Review—2011 to reflect upon another challenging year as well as to revisit the PBS-TV special An Evening With Valerie Simpson in Honor of Nick Ashford, in which Chew leads the band. The event celebrates musician-couple Valerie Simpson, interviewed by Gwen Ifill, and her late husband Nick Ashford in a full house at Northwestern University’s Thorne Auditorium. The HistoryMakers continues to educate youth across the country about the often-hidden achievements of African Americans in science, and hosts its second annual Back To School With The HistoryMakers, in which over 400 HistoryMakers speak at nearly 300 schools in over 100 cities throughout thirty-five states to share stories of perseverance and triumph. Back To School HistoryMakers include rap artist Common, Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, former Ambassador Andrew Young, singer/ actress Melba Moore, Broadway choreographer George Faison, poet Nikki Giovanni, actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymah, social justice leader Rev. Al Sharpton, journalist Roland Martin, and poet/author Sonia Sanchez. 34 HistoryMakers are successfully interviewed in Alabama, California, Georgia, and Illinois. In addition to behind-the-scenes footage of the PBS-TV taping and other events that year, the program will include pre-recorded performances by Patti Austin, from An Evening With Valerie Simpson, and Chaz Lamar Shepherd, in tribute to Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford as well as those interviewed in 2011. Immediately following will be a screening of An Evening With Valerie Simpson in Honor of Nick Ashford.
Music director Ray Chew was born in 1958, in Harlem, New York. Chew studied music education at the Julliard School Children’s Program, and at the High School of Music and Arts in New York City. As a music arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Chew has worked with noted artists such as Gladys Knight, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin. In 1974, Chew went on tour with recording artist and Broadway star Melba Moore. For more than twenty years, he was the music arranger on seven albums with the legendary duo Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson. In 2008, he served as the bandleader for the Democratic National Convention; and, in 2009, he was selected by President Barack Obama to direct the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. Chew has been recruited as a musical director on a number of television shows including Saturday Night Live, Showtime at the Apollo, American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars.
Patti Austin is a GRAMMY®-winning, internationally-popular entertainer, whose catalog consists of seventeen albums and dozens of guest appearances. Austin got her start as an entertainer when she appeared at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem at the age of four at the urging of music legend Dinah Washington. The daughter of jazz trombonist Gordon Austin, Patti was a bonafide recording artist in her teens, achieving her first chart success in 1969 with “The Family Tree,” which was a Top 50 R&B single.
During the 1970's, Austin could be heard singing behind notable artists, such as Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, James Brown, Joe Cocker, Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross, and Diana Ross and on countless memorable commercial jingles. After a series of much-acclaimed albums for CTI Records, she signed with her godfather Quincy Jones’ Qwest label and began achieving mainstream success on an international level thanks to the GRAMMY®-nominated hit "Baby Come To Me," recorded with James Ingram and Oscar-nominated "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" Austin also appeared on Jones' best-selling Stuff Like That, his GRAMMY®--winning classic The Dude and later, his From Q With Love Vols. 1 & 2.
In 1988, Austin released The Real Me, which featured a powerful collection of pop and jazz standards including "Cry Me A River,” "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "Mood Indigo." During a stint at /GRP Records, Austin released Carry On, Love is Gonna Getcha, featuring the hit single "Through the Test of Time", as well as That Secret Place and Patti Austin Live. Austin's 1998 album In and Out of Love spent almost two years on the contemporary jazz charts. In 1999 and in 2000, she recorded On The Way to Love, which was produced by Paul Brown. Austin's move into the 'classical' jazz world also included hits like "For Ella," her acclaimed 2002 tribute to the legendary Fitzgerald, and her 2007 album, Avant Gershwin, which garnered Austin her first Grammy win for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Ever seeking new challenges, Austin also wrote and created her own one-woman show and co-created the musical extravaganza Beboperella, a modern day music driven show that tells the story of Bebop's influence on Ella Fitzgerald to a new generation. She is the co-creator of Oh Freedom, a show exploring the African-American quest for freedom and equality in America.
In 2011, Patti Austin released her eighteenth album, Sound Advice, much of which she produced with longtime musical pal, Greg Phillinganes. Austin describes the album as a response to "the pull and tug from the fans who know me from the ‘80s…it’s my ‘going back to my roots’ album!”
Taped: Saturday, November 19, 2011
An Evening With Valerie Simpson In Honor of Nick Ashford is an hour-long, live-to-tape PBS-TV interview program that showcased the wonderful life and career of the legendary singer/songwriter duo Ashford & Simpson. Taped in 2011 at Northwestern University Law School's Thorne Auditorium, An Evening With Valerie Simpson In Honor of Nick Ashford featured the first public interview of R&B icon Valerie Simpson after the untimely passing of her husband and songwriting partner, Nick Ashford. Simpson was candid, revealing and witty as she talked about she and Nick Ashford's chart-topping career
Tony Award winner and choreographer George Faison co-produced the show alongside The HistoryMakers Founder and Executive Director Julieanna Richardson. Ray Chew, Ashford & Simpson's musical director for over twenty years, led the band and served as the program's music producer. Hosted by noted PBS-TV journalist Gwen Ifill, An Evening With Valerie Simpson In Honor of Nick Ashford included musical performances by Patti Austin and Kindred the Family Soul.