Ray and Vivian Chew are the definition of a powerhouse couple. Ray was the music director of American Idol and currently serves as the music director for Dancing with the Stars. Vivian was Director of A&R at Polygram Records before starting her own company, Time Zone International.
Together they run Chew Entertainment, a production and event company. One of their cornerstone events is the annual Night of Inspiration concert at Carnegie Hall. The event gives gospel singers the chance to perform with a 64-piece orchestra under Ray’s direction. This year’s December 15 performance will feature performances from Shirley Caesar, Koryn Hawthorne and Travis Greene.
“This is a perfect combination of our strengths,” Vivian says. “Ray is the ultimate maestro. He is not only a musician but he is a composer, an arranger, a conductor, and you get to see all of those elements on stage at the show. My strengths are as an organizer, an executor, and producer, and…you get to see that all culminate at the show.”
“One of the things that inspired us to start [Night of Inspiration] was that…we wanted to demonstrate that you can have all cultures come together and celebrate on the great stage of Carnegie Hall and bring everybody together and celebrate,” Ray said.
This year the Chews partnered with the recording label RCA Inspiration to create the Voice of Inspiration talent competition. The winner will give a special performance at Carnegie Hall and get a recording deal with RCA.
“One of the things that we do with this particular program is unique pairings,” Ray says. “Most people never have the complement of a 64-piece orchestra and mass choir.”
There are plenty of special performances to look forward to this year. Shirley Caesar is performing a tribute to Aretha Franklin. Kenny Lattimore is doing a unique rendition of “Smile.” There’s also going to be a dance segment.
For the Chews, though, this is much more than a concert.
“This is our third presentation of Night of Inspiration at Carnegie Hall and what we’ve witnessed is literally people walking out differently than when they walked in,” Vivian says. “The music pulls everybody together as one body and one spirit.”