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Thank you for the music, Ray Coniff B


The nice thing about my favou-

rite artist is that you could “sing” along, without having to know the words! Way back in the fifties, when my Dad went away on business trips, he would bring me LPs which he figured we both would enjoy…hence my exposure to all kinds of CJNU-type music, in- cluding the favourite artist I’ve chosen to highlight. Started with S’Wonderful

Do you need a few more

clues? This band leader and arranger played the trombone, and later on formed his Singers, who were very popular do- ing contemporary songs with words in the sixties

Ross Thompson Looking Back

and seventies. The words to my open- ing sentence were from S’Wonderful, S’Marvelous, you should care for me! S’Wonderful was actually the title of his first album. Did you guess Ray Conniff? Cor-

rect!! He was unique and versatile, and had many hits covering many decades and age groups. I remember the Ray Conniff Singers and their music from movies for the young and old, ranging from Chim Chim Cheree (Mary Pop- pins) to Doctor Zhivago! He also teamed up with other instrumentalists like Billy Butterfield later in his career when he


oss Thompson, a fish and wild- life biologist with the province of Manitoba, retired from gov- ernment service in 2003. He chaired Stonewall Manitoba’s community round-table from 1991 to 1994, and subsequently became Manitoba’s man- ager of community and northern devel- opment, helping develop community strategies in rural and northern com- munities. Ross holds a certificate in entrepre- neurship and enterprise development



switched back to instrumental, without the “BWA DA DA”. Ray’s Christmas album, Christmas with Conniff, was something special as well, including carols and hymns. He made Counting My Blessings into a Christ- mas regular, adding We Wish You a Merry Christ- mas and Let It Snow. Talk about transition between genres, and a huge hit to boot!

Wikipedia notes that Conniff was born in Mas- sachusetts and learned to play the trombone from his father. After serving in the United States Army in the Second World War, he joined the Artie Shaw big band and wrote many ar- rangements for him. Later he was hired by Mitch Miller, a bigwig with Co-

lumbia Records, to do arranging, work- ing with numerous stars of the day. Popped up in Moscow

Among the notable hit singles he backed with his orchestra (and eventual- ly with a male chorus) were: Just Walkin’ in the Rain, Chances Are and It’s Not for Me to Say. I’ll bet you know the vo- calists who made those hits famous! Between 1957 and 1968, Conniff had 28 albums in the American Top 40, the most famous one being Somewhere My Love (1966). His top album in England, His Orchestra, His Chorus, His Singers, His Sound, was originally published to

Introducing Ross Thompson

from the University of Manitoba and was an instructor in facilitating and strategic planning at the university’s Planning School. Ross is past-president of CJNU Nos-

talgia Radio and a current board mem- ber. He was mayor of Stonewall from 2002 to 2014. He has completed 10 MS bike tours from Stonewall to Gimli and back. Ross and Lynne live in Stonewall and enjoy the proximity of their three chil- dren and five grandchildren.

“your Life, your Story”

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promote his European tour (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) in 1969. He also was the first American popular artist to record in Russia; in 1974 he recorded Ray Conniff in Moscow with the help of a local choir. Later, Latino albums made

him very popular in Latin- American

countries, even

more so after he performed in an international song festival in Chile’s Vina del Mar. In Brazil and Chile he was treat- ed like a young pop superstar in the 1980s and 1990s when he was in his 70s and 80s.

Ray Conniff.

He even played live with his orchestra and eight-person chorus in large football

A band leader, arranger and trombonist, he produced nearly 100 record albums, and left a legacy across the globe.

stadiums. Ray’s worldwide scope makes it plausible that he produced nearly 100 albums throughout his career. Ray Conniff passed away in 2002 after a long and healthy life, in which he left a legacy of music literally around the world – something that must have heartened his humble soul. I am sure he would appreciate the va- riety of music, including his ren- ditions, characteristic of CJNU. Who knows? Perhaps our 500 watts reach his sensitive ears. Drums at the close?

I wonder if Ray’s last beats were like the closings of most of his instrumen- tals…a gentle riff on the drums, then silence.


November 2015 13

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