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Ray Charles & The Raelettes
|Genres||R&B, pop, soul|
|Associated acts||Ray Charles|
|Past members||Merry Clayton|
The Raelettes (or occasionally The Raelets or The Raeletts) were an American girl group from the 1950s to 2003, formed, as the name suggests, to provide backing vocals for Ray Charles. Between 1966 and 1973, as a separate act (but produced and accompanied by Charles), the Raelettes released a number of singles and one compilation album on Tangerine.
Reformed by Ray Charles from the all-girl singing group The Cookies, The Raelettes were officially established in 1958. Like Ray Charles, they were signed by Atlantic Records, who released a few singles with them, and hired them as backing vocals for other acts (in the studio and live). Ray 'discovered' The Cookies in 1956, in Philadelphia. That night he went out to a concert by the Lionel Hampton Band. Chuck Willis opened the show, and he was accompanied by the girls. Ray, as he later stated, was immediately hooked on their way of singing. He had already recorded "Drown In My Own Tears" with Mary Ann Fisher (who also toured with the band as a featured solo singer between 1956 and 1958), supported by two other girls, but now he wanted to make this kind of female backing vocals part of his sound, permanently. He first invited The Cookies for a recording session in New York City, in August 1956, where they taped "Lonely Avenue", "I Want To Know" and "Leave My Woman Alone". Margie Hendrix, Dorothy Jones, and Darlene McCrea formed the first line-up. In 1958 The Cookies were re-baptized as The Raelettes (Raeletts, Raelets, etc.), and started touring with The Genius. Margie Hendrix explained the name change from "Cookies" to "Raelet(t)(te)s" in an October 1961 interview in the French jazz magazine Jazz Hot: "Since we became an integrated part of Ray Charles' orchestra, it would have been perfectly stupid to continue using the 'Cookies' name. On a nice morning Ray tackled the problem, and came to the conclusion that only two names were possible: the 'Silver Bells' or the 'Raelets'. I immediately rejected the 'Silver Bells' - that name appeared ridiculous to me. And that's how we called ourselves the Raelets. We've never been [called] the 'Raylettes': that name would be an error. In American [English] Ray is [a name] for men, and Rae is for the ladies."
In these early years Margie Hendrix was the Raelette's foremost member. Ray Charles said about her, "Aretha, Gladys, Etta James — these gals are all bad, but on any given night, Margie will scare you to death." The first line-up that backed Ray during live performances consisted of Margie Hendrix, Pat Lyles, and Gwen Berry. The second known line-up was Margie Hendrix , Patricia Lyles, Gwen Berry, and Darlene McCrea. From the early years until the end the group always consisted out of 4 or 5 singers. Rita Graham recorded the album Vibrations, produced by Ray Charles for his Tangerine label, before she briefly sub'ed as Raelette in the summer of 1968. For several other girls Ray Charles also produced and released one or more solo singles: Margie Hendrix, Clydie King, Alex Brown, Dorothy Berry, and Madelyn Quebec (Ray frequently backing them on piano). In 1973 Margie Hendrix Died of a Drug Overdose
- Shalaine Adams (selected but never performed, 2005)
- Mabel Armed (1969)
- Fritz Basket (1964-1965)
- Dorothy Berry (1971-1980)
- Gwen "Squatty Roo" Berry (1960-1968)
- Tangy Biggers (1999)
- Anita Brooks (1989)
- Alexandra Brown (1966 - 1968)
- Helen Bryant (1964)
- Dottie Clark 1964
- Merry Clayton (1966-1968)
- Chrylynn Cobb (1978)
- Trudy Cochran (1977 - 1991)
- Kathryn Collier (c 1973)
- Sharon Creighton (1986 - 1987)
- Pamela Diggs-King (1992)
- Karen Evans (1996 - 1999)
- Verlyn Flenaugh (1968)
- Lillian Fort (1964 - 1965)
- Valerie Geason
- Renee Georges (2000-2003)
- Deborah Gleese (1977)
- Rita Graham (1968 - 1969)
- Susaye Greene (1968 - 1975)
- Katrina Harper-Cooke (1997)
- Avis Harrell (1979-1982)
- Margie Hendricks (1955-1964)
- Peggy Hutcherson (1966)
- Denise Jackson (1973)
- Doretta James (1957)
- Mable John (1966 - 1978, 1998)
- Ann Johnson (1981 - 1985)
- Clydie King (1966 - 1968)
- Beverly Ann Lesure(1968)
- Pat Lion (1957)
- Pat (Priscilla) Lyles (1955 - 1965)
- Kathy Mackey (1997)
- Tammy McCann (2001)
- Marilyn McCoo (1965)
- Gladezz McCoy
- Darlene McCrea(1956 - 1964)
- Tonette McKinney(1994 - 2003)
- Paula Michelle (1991)
- Janice Mitchell (1981 - 1986)
- Mae Mosely-Lyles (1959 - 1960)
- Vernita Moss (1969 - 1975)
- Paula More (1991 - 1992)
- Kay Nickerson(1990)
- Pat Peterson (1980 - 1989)
- Bobbie Pierce (1964)
- Madelyn Quebec (1973-1987)
- Patricia Richards (1963)
- Ruby Rae Roberson (1959-1960)
- Vermetea Royster (1965-1966)
- Mae Saunders (1960-1961)
- Cynthia Scott (1972-1974)
- Linda Sims (1975-1978)
- Bettye Smith (1960)
- Gwendolyn Smith (1988-1991)
- Joy Styles (2005)
- Barbara Nell Terrault (1968)
- Brianna Perry Tucker (2001-2002)
- Andromeda Turre (selected but never performed, 2005)
- Lalomie Washburn (1990)
- Tracey Whitney (sub'ed for one night, 1991)
- Elaine Woodard (1983-1987)
- Angela Workman (1987-1999)
- Edna Wright (1966)
- Estella Yarbrough (1969-2003)
- "One Hurt Deserves Another" / "One Room Paradise" (#76 Pop / #24 R&B)
- "Into Something Fine" / "Lover's Blues"
- "All I Need Is His Love" / "I'm Gettin' 'Long All Right" (#23 R&B)
- "I Want To Thank You" / "It's Almost Here" (#47 R&B)
- "I Want To (Do Everything for You)" (#96 Pop / #39 R&B) / "Keep It To Yourself"
- "Bad Water" (#58 Pop / #40 R&B) / "That Goes To Show You"
- "Here I Go Again" / "Leave My Man Alone"
- "Come Get It, I Got It" / "Try A Little Kindness"
- "You Must Be Doing Alright" / "You Have A Way With Me"
- "If You Wanna Keep Him" / "Many Rivers To Cross"
- (Ray Charles Presents The) Raeletts, Yesterday... Today... Tomorrow (Tangerine 1515, 1972).
- The Raelettes, Hits And Rarities (Titanic Records TR-CD 4422, 1993).
- "Ray Charles Video Museum: Ray Charles - Personnel & Co-Performers". Raycharlesvideomuseum.blogspot.com. Retrieved 25 January 2018.