Willie Nash

Performer electrifies stage with Ray Charles’ classics

JENNINGS — Jennings may be a long way from Georgia, but the Peach State will be on everyone’s mind Sunday when Willie Nash and his band brings the Ray Charles tribute show to the historic Strand Theater.

The show will be held 3 p.m. Sunday at the Strand Theatre, 432 N. Main Street. Tickets are $25 and available by contacting Carita Goodreau with Bon Ami Tours at 337-824-7078 or 337-370-2512.

A veteran performer, Nash has spent more than two decades performing with the World Famous Platters tribute band and with the Ray Charles and Company Tribute Show, both based in Branson, Mo.

With an uncanny portrayal of Charles and a talented group of musicians, Nash is keeping the spirit of the late singer-pianist alive through his music and such hits like  “Georgia on My Mind,” “I Got a Woman,” “Hit the Road, Jack,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “You Are My Sunshine.”

Ray Charles 

Special to the American Press

Just to keep the show interesting, they toss in Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable,” Steve Wonder’s “Superstition” and a few hits by Sly and the Family Stone.

“We try to touch everyone and keep it interesting,” he said.

Andre Sheppard will be his special guest performing rhythm and blues classics including the music of the late Marvin Gaye.

Like Charles, Nash has overcome the challenges of being blind after losing his eyesight as a teenager to an untreatable medical condition affecting the optic nerve.

“And I have always been told I sound and look like him,” Nash said.

Nash said music changed his life by being in the right place at the right time.

“After school one day, my friend, Henry Brunfield, asked me to go to his band practice.”

The lead singer did not show up that day and they needed a singer fast, he said. His friend said “Will sings.”

Nash denied his talents until learning the gig paid $25.

“I took the microphone and sang ‘I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day,’ which was the opening line to the Temptations classic song, “My Girl,” he said.

He got the job and began performing with musical groups in the East Los Angeles area.

As his sight got worse, his music got better and he became a favorite entertainer in southern California before beginning work in Branson with the World Famous Platters, he said.

Today, Nash is electrifying the stage with musical renditions of Charles’ classics including everything from blues and jazz to country and rhythm and blues to create a memorable evening for audiences.

“We anticipate everyone who shows up to the show will have a good time and enjoy some good timeless music that brings back a lot of memories,” Nash said. “Ray Charles music is timeless. It never gets old and it reaches all kinds of ethnic groups because his music, like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, will always be there.”

Unlike some tribute shows, Nash does not use sound tracks and relays on his own vocals and the music and vocals of his accompanying band.

“We have a lot of fun doing what we do and I call it ‘musicunicating’ — bringing music and communication together so that everyone is having a good time,” he said. “And I love being able to make people smile and be happy.”

At 71, Nash says he is living his life and still having a lot of fun. Being blind has not stopped him.

“I had two choices,” he said. “I could either sit in a room somewhere or live my life.”

He considers his blindness as a “little inconvenience” and has learned to do for himself.

“I can do anything anyone else does, I just have to do it differently,” he said.

The Ray Charles tribute show will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Strand Theatre, 432 N. Main St. in Jennings. Tickets are $25 and available by contacting Carita Goodreau with Bon Ami Tours at 337-824-7078 or 337-370-2512.

””

Willie Nash

Special to the American Press

SportsPlus

McNeese Sports

Southland welcomes two new members

Local News

Supreme Court rules ex-presidents have broad immunity, dimming chance of a pre-election Trump trial

Business

Names in the News: People shaping the future of Lake Area business

life

On Campus: SW La. students recognized for achievements

Local News

How will Louisiana’s new Ten Commandments classroom requirement be funded and enforced?

Local News

Biden meets with his family amid pressures to step down after debate

Local News

Donation celebrated by Second Harvest, but volunteers are still needed

Local News

Grand Avenue Gym: DeQuincy landmark fading fast, group fighting to save it says

Local News

Beryl becomes major hurricane forecast to bring life-threatening conditions to Caribbean

life

Fourth of July festivities in Jennings will kick off with Stars and Stripes Festival

Local News

Ceremony held at Fort Johnson for deploying troops

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Don’t expect new candidates

life

SW La. nightlife calendar: There’s always something to do

life

USAF Band of the West making Lake Charles stop

high-school Sports

Upgrades planned for Jerry Simmons football stadium in Jennings

Crime

Lafayette teen charged in Ernest Street fatal shooting

Crime

6/28: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

Longhorns make quite a statement to the SEC

Local News

Bicyclist fatally struck after allegedly running stop sign

Local News

PHOTO GALLERY: Stitch Guillory sworn in as sheriff

Local News

Sheriff Guillory: ‘I am living MLK’s dream’

Local News

Supreme Court allows cities to enforce bans on homeless people sleeping outside

Local News

Work begins on new artificial reef off Cameron coast to provide habitat

Local News

Trump, Biden square off for the first time in the 2024 election season