Written by
Bob Stumpel

December 14

Ray Charles On Canadian News (1986)

'86 DM CBC

On 23 October 1986 Ray Charles played two sold out concerts at the Copa, Toronto. CBC covered the event twice. On the 23d, Newshour had an item with the following shotlist:

*/ls/ musician Ray Charles performing on stage at Toronto’s Copa club
*/pan/ audience at the Copa claps
*/mcu/ Charles playing piano
*/ls/ protestors in front of the Copa with placard ‘Ray Charles entertains apartheid’
*/cu/ sign ‘the Copa’ pan down to protestors standing in front of club
*/ls/ protestors give flyers to people leaving club
*/intv/ protestor SOT upset with Ray Charles’ decision to perform to racially integrated audiences in South Africa
*/mcu/ reporter Stu Paterson with protestor
*/intv/ protestor SOT Charles shouldn’t have gone to South Africa
*/var/ Charles performing on stage

On the 24th DRN (Daily Regional News), had a similar item, showing Ray performing at the Copa, and anti-apartheid protesting outside the venue. The voice-over explained: “Tonight, protestors gathered in front of The Copa club where musician Ray Charles was performing. Protestors were upset [about] Charles’ decision to perform to racially integrated audiences in South Africa in the early 1980s [i.e. October 1980, BS], which, they say, supports South Africa’s apartheid regime”.

Since 1981 many of Ray’s concerts in the USA and Canada were targeted by Unity In Action, a small but very active anti-apartheid group. In fact, in 1980 he had ignored a UN-supported boycott of South Africa. He faced pickets in South Africa, Europe and in many North American cities.
Just at the time of this concert in Toronto Ray had had enough of it. On October 4th he had published an open letter on the subject, in Billboard:

Also read this and thison Ray’s position and actions against segregation. As late as 1991, a concert in Stockholm was canceled when the promoters discovered that Ray Charles was still on a U.N. blacklist…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *