GFM Spotlight - Ray Chew

Music Director/Producer/Composer Ray Chew’s work can be found across multiple networks in various TV offerings, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. The sounds of the much sought-after Maestro were on full display during the inaugural season of Fox’s new ratings juggernaut I Can See Your Voice – the Ken Jeong helmed musical game show that took the top spot as America’s #1 new unscripted series of 2020. ABC’s “Dancing with The Stars” crowned their season 29 Mirror Ball Champion with Ray Chew Live providing the soundtrack for 12 straight seasons – creating his vibrant takes on current and classic hits.

GFM's BJ Pendleton chats with Musical Maverick Ray Chew who has put his mark on many television shows, musical specials and historic landmark events including, Dancing With The Stars, I Can See Your Voice, American Idol, 65th Annual Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards and much more.

Mr. Chew's work with orchestras as a conductor and a composer has carried him to prestigious venues all over the world, from the Hollywood Bowl in LA to the Nobel Peace Prize broadcast in Norway.

BJ spoke with Ray about how he built a special custom made music trailer that he has been using during the pandemic to safely create compositions for various television series, television specials and film projects and much more!

Ray’s tenure as music director for Fox’s “American Idol" inspired some of the best talent in the competition’s history and produced over 300 contestant iTunes downloads. He has also served as music director for several network television series including “It’s Showtime at the Apollo” and BET’s “Sunday Best”. During his tenure with the BET Network, Ray took charge of the music for their biggest annual events including “BET Honors"; “Celebration of Gospel” and the “BET Awards”. Ray’s music direction is sought after for prestigious music specials and historic landmark events including the annual The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, The Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony, The 2008 Democratic National Convention, The President’s Inaugural Neighborhood Ball and The 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards.

Ray’s mark across the TV landscape can also be found on various NBC Specials, including The 94th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting and their special supporting Broadway CaresOne Night Only: The Best of Broadway.

Ray’s on-stage performances at the helm of award-winning musical events with the world’s most popular artists including Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, Pharrell Williams, Justin Beiber, Aretha Franklin, Lenny Kravitz, Pitbull, Queen Latifah, James Taylor, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Jennifer Hudson and Quincy Jones will live on forever thru YouTube and multiple streaming services.

A man of vision and purpose – Ray Chew remains steadfast in his commitment to philanthropy thru his Power 2 Inspire Foundation and fundraising efforts in partnership with the American Federation of Musicians to benefit out of work musicians affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. For more information, visit and

"Cover Me" Sundays(Influencer Edition) - "I'm In Love"/"I Can't Describe"

Jennifer Hudson I Can't Describe

Originally posted March 23, 2014


I was inspired to republish this "Cover Me" post based on a conversation that I had with one of my high school students who just out of the blue this week brought up the work of Evelyn "Champagne" King unprompted. We talked about some of his favorite songs by her and I told him that through my work here at GFM I was able to befriend the sorely missed, musically gifted and so insightful Kashif who wrote and produced the song we're highlighting here! We honor Kashif's memory and friendship daily around here.

We Are All Influenced

No, "I Can't Describe" by Jennifer Hudson (written by Pharrell and T.I. and produced by Pharrell) is not a cover of Evelyn King's "I'm In Love" (written and produced by Kashif) and I'm not making the case that there was some untoward "borrowing" of ideas and concepts, but what I am definitely stating for the record is that there is some influence going on here which in my estimation is a beautiful thing.

Let's be clear about one thing: we are all influenced by the music that we choose to take in. That's a musical truth and it runs across the entire musical gamut from "Classical" to latest greatest genre that all the cool kids are listening to(whatever that is).

Like Totally Awesome Dude

"I Can't Describe" sounds to my ears like a tribute, a pastiche if you will to a very fertile period in R&B: the early 80's. A time where you had producers on the vanguard of incorporating cutting edge electronic technology with "traditional" music production elements. In productions like "I'm In Love" the purpose was very clear: give the listener something very funky, with a catchy hook that can get them on the dancefloor and keep them there. Kashif masterfully displays the art of getting the dancer on the floor and as a nod (if I were the type of person to patronize dancefloors I am not) I believe Pharrell has accomplished the same end.

"I Can't Describe" has a little bit of everything in it as far as the ingredients borrowed from influences: There's a little bit of Chaka Khan in the vocal production, a nod to the masters of writing bridges (which in recent decades has become a lost art form), and at the foundation, a groove that reminds this writer of 1981 and a production sound from that time period that you immediately recognize as belonging to Kashif.

Salute The Elders Always

Influence can only happen with a sense of history. This is why we feel it is so important to support the latest ground breaking project from Kashif: The History of R&B Music When we know from whence we've come, we have the ability to reach back and honor those who paved the way. That's what this post about, that's what GFM is about and that's definitely a driving force of this historical film.

Kashif Presents The History of R&B Music - a 10 part documentary

Aretha Franklin and Jennifer Hudson

Is Jennifer Hudson The Best Pick for Aretha Franklin Biopic?

The talk of an Aretha Franklin biopic has been in the air for quite some time. Back in 2011, it was highly reported that Oscar Award winning actress, Halle Barry was under consideration. The following year, four-time Tony nominee, Audra McDonald’s name was also in the mix to play the Queen of Soul. Now, after a long pause in the project, it was announced by Clive Davis, during his pre-Grammy party in honor of Jay-Z, that Jennifer Hudson would be playing the lead role of Aretha Franklin.

According to Rolling Stone, before Hudson’s live performance at Saturday's gala, Davis mentioned, “when the biopic of the great Aretha Franklin is filmed next year, the artist anointed by Aretha herself to play her is the next performer."   While this isn’t the first time Jennifer Hudson’s name has been suggested for the role, talks have been circulating that acquisition and financing of the biopic is currently being conducted by MGM, according to Deadline. “Straight Otta Compton” film producer, Scott Berstein and Harvey Mason Jr., music producer for “Dreamgirls” will also be part of the Franklin project. MGM is currently in the works of locking down a screenwriter and director

So, in light of these developments, what do “you” think of Jennifer Hudson playing the role of Aretha Franklin? Do you think it was a good choice? Should she have chosen another actress and/or singer? Let me know what you think?


#NowPlaying - Louis York "I Enjoy You"

Instant Replay

First of all I hope you already pressed play? You did right? Ok, now I hope you hang for a bit for a few words. I won't be long because if you're anything like me at this point you're probably ready to press play again. Louis York (Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony) is taking a holistic approach to music by creating with the acknowledgement that most of us(and by most of us I mean people)are not just narrowly defined tight payola playlist listeners of music. In reading Louis York's bio I was immediately struck by the simpatico with GFM. As we are here, Louis York's creative mission is to bring GREAT music into the world.

Receipts for Days

Both as a collective and individually Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony have crafted songs for the likes of Ne-Yo, Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Janet Jackson, John Legend, Rihanna, Kelly Rowland, Anthony Hamilton, Johnny Gill, Keyshia Cole, Keri Hilson, K'naan, Bono, Corinne Bailey Rae, Whitney Houston, R. Kelly, Miley Cyrus, Olly Murs, Jessie J, Britney Spears, Leona Lewis, John Legend, Faith Evans, Joe Jonas, Jason Derulo, Backstreet Boys, Adam Lambert, Martina McBride, Christina Aguilera, One Direction, The Wanted, and the K-pop girl group Wonder Girls. So as you can see this is not their first rodeo, not by a longshot.


So look I know you want to get back to listening and all that good stuff, but can I just say, can we just agree that "I Enjoy You" is simply beautiful. #Growns this is songwriting. This is craftsmanship. One of the biggest complaints that I have about music these days is that I often feel that so much focus is placed on the production that lyrics and melodies become just another part of the accompaniment when in my opinion the melody and lyric should be your lead actors and the arrangement and orchestration the supporting cast then you'll have a production. Before I take my seat and proceed to close I would be remiss if I did not mention Chuck Harmony's piano work on this composition: elegant, forwarding moving and colorful. What a delight to hear this type of playing in this context. It just goes to show the beauty of what can happen when you tear down walls and allow the greatness to unfold in a most musical way.

"I Enjoy You"
From Louis York's Masterpiece Theater - Act III - EP
Press play, share and support their movement!


Chops 'n' Soul EPK w/New Single "Gimme The Grease"


#Growns we wanted to take a minute today to get your eyes and ears on Chops 'n' Soul which is a collaboration between singer/producer "Soul Joel" Parisien, Chops Horns, and P-Funk alumni Bernie Worrell(RIP), Dennis Chambers and Fred Wesley. The Chops Horns are noted for being the original horn section for Sugar Hill Records and their resume is a veritable "Who's Who" of Soul having backed artists such as: Luther, Aretha, Mary J., Mariah, Living Colour, Sting, Will Downing, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson just to name a few. Checkout the EPK for the project below and their first single "Gimme The Grease" to get familiar.

New Music: Tyrese feat. Jennifer Hudson: "Shame"

We must admit that we could do without so much emoting from Tyrese and Jennifer on this song, but we get it: it's a plea for a lover's forgiveness. Overall we like the song and all of its "Grown Folks Music" nuances. Check it out.

#Now Playing: Jennifer Hudson: Bring Back The Music

We're #vibin to "Bring Back The Music" from Jennifer Hudson's album JHUD.

#Now Playing: Jennifer Hudson feat. R. Kelly: "It's Your World"

"It's your wooorrrrlllld." Diggin' this disco flair from Jennifer Hudson and R. Kelly.


Kashif/The History of R&B Music - Week In Review (3/23/14 - 3/29/14)

The campaign rolls on this week and we are so proud to be involved with this monumental project produced by Kashif to help spread the good news of Rhythm and Blues!

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Who’s Replaced Halle Barry in Aretha Franklin’s Upcoming Bio-Pic?

After talks of Halle Berry as the leading actress for the highly anticipated bio-pic and swirling whispers of Fantasia or possibly Jennifer Hudson, multiple GRAMMY® Award-winner Aretha Franklin sees Audra McDonald as a strong contender to play the Queen of Soul in an upcoming film. During a recent visit to New York City, Franklin attended Broadway’s Porgy and Bess. It was Franklin’s first time seeing McDonald’s on the Great White Way. She was very impressed with her performance and expressed an interest in her for the role.

Audra McDonald is an award-winning television and stage actor who has won four Tony® awards and two Emmy awards. McDonald has starred in ABC’s Private Practice, and in Broadway musicals such as A Raisin in the Sun, Ragtime, Carousel and Master Class.  A classical trained singer, she has performed in concerts with the New York Philharmonic and many others.

Franklin is continuing discussions with Hollywood executives and hopes to wrap up negotiations on the film in the coming months.  She is not currently in negotiations with McDonald for the starring role in a bio-pic about Franklin.  Last month, Franklin celebrated her 70th birthday at a dinner party in New York. She recently received TV Land’s Music Icon Award.