A closer look at a legendary entertainer - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by: Alisa Nave, 12/6/04, 10:00pm

A closer look at a legendary entertainer

By: Donna Davis

The smash biopic RAY gave the world a glimpse into the personal life of the legendary entertainer. However, Memphians Joe and Trudie Hunter lived it. Joe spent eleven years on the road with Ray Charles as a roadie and road manager. Trudy spent 17 years as a Raelette. "Because what lives within Miss Trudy and I is part of Ray Charles, and we can’t get it out of us, other than telling the story.” Hunter explained to these aspiring musicians from the Stax Academy how going on the Road with Ray in 1983 was an awakening. "We used to say, 40 million dollars, and we traveling with him. And when I, He's a black man. A blind black man. That began to mean things to me." After growing up in 1960's Detroit , traveling the world with Ray also changed his view of race relations. "You don't like white people, No offense, bro, I love you, but that was the culture that I lived in, and Ray Charles took me out of my racial culture, and put me in France ; where it's not a black and white thing. It's a French and American thing." "OHHHHH.” Ray Charles personally discovered Trudie during a visit to Memphis , where she was singing a hymn at an SCLC meeting. After nearly two decades on the road, her advice to the Stax students is don't get caught up in the trappings of success. "Ray Charles told me to look out for number one, because when you finish hanging with everybody, they gonna look out for number one, when some mess goes down; they gonna look out for themselves.” Life lessons learned from life on the road with a legend. Joe and Trudie Hunter are now working on a book about their life on the road with Ray Charles.

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