Written by
Bob Stumpel

March 3

Ray Charles Singing America For Black & Decker (1984)

'84 CM B+D NM

In 1984 Roy Eaton created the musical track for America The Beautiful that accompanied “[…] Ray Charles’ emotional rendition of the classic in a new 30-second spot for Black & Decker”.
“Eaton said it was a challenge reducing a 2 1/2-minute song to a 29-second musical track without losing the spirit of the composition. He praised Ray Charles’ artistry, Bert DeCoteaux’ arrangement and the use of a metronome that helped capture the essence of the patriotic message.”
“Eaton produced the music by instructing media sound engineer Fred Christie to record the rhythm section (Charles on piano included), then Charles’ voice and a six-member back-up vocal section. Strings added later were the icing on the cake.”
Lewis, Gilman & Kynett in Philadelphia conceived and produced the spot, “which featured shots of the restoration work on the Statue of Liberty from dawn to dusk”. The LG&K team included Carl Casselman (creative director), Dino Sistilli (art), John Mohr (copy), and Ed Bates (producer).

(All quotes from an article in AdWeek, November 12, 1984).

[Reader’s comment]: “In the mid-eighties, Black & Decker power tools through its agency Lewis Gilman & Kynett in Philadelphia signed on to be the official power tool supplier to the Statue of Liberty restoration. As part of the agreement, B&D could do promotions to publicize their involvement. One promotion they did was to contribute a portion of power tool sales to the restoration fund. To communicate this, LG&K did a TV commercial with helicopter shots of the Statue at sunset with workers handling B&D tools. They commissioned Ray Charles to do a rendition of “America” to accompany. This photo was taken at the recording session in NYC.”

Photo: Life / Getty.


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