Bishop Arts Theatre Center (BATC), pays homage to music icon, Ray Charles by presenting Unchain My Heart: A Tribute to Ray Charles featuring Joe McBride on Oct. 26-29. This production opens BATC’s 2017-2018 Theatre Series entitled Breaking Boundaries which a celebration of the freedom of expression and perseverance. Jazz great, “Smokin” Joe McBride, takes on the role of blues legend Ray Charles, in this tour de force solo performance. McBride electrifies the stage with musical renditions of the Ray Charles classics like Georgia, I Got A Woman, and You Don’t Know Me creating a memorable evening.
Much like McBride’s muse, Ray Charles, this Fulton, MO native was forced to overcome the challenges of a sensory disability due to an illness to make their mark in the music industry. McBride began playing the piano at age four. His earliest influences were gospel music, bebop, straight-ahead jazz, Motown, and ’70s R&B and funk. As a teenager, he began singing and playing at jazz clubs. Around this time, McBride was stricken with a degenerative eye disease that eventually claimed his sight, but his passion for music didn’t diminish. He continued his musical studies at the Missouri School for the Blind and Webster University in suburban St. Louis, where he majored in jazz performance. He also attended the University of North Texas.
In 1983, McBride began playing with the band Fattburger and guitarist Steve Laury in San Diego, CA. Following the short stint, his visit to Dallas, TX evolved into an abundant opportunity. He was flooded with performance offers, leading to McBride becoming a popular musician of the city’s jazz club scene. During that time, he met a young trumpeter named Dave Love at a function for North Texas State University. The two became fast friends and when Love ventured into the other side of the music business he immediately signed McBride.
McBride’s debut album, Grace, released in 1992, instantly made him a core artist at smooth jazz radio. McBride’s other albums released during the ’90s include A Gift for Tomorrow (1994), Keys to Your Heart (1996), and Double Take (1998). A stellar guest list of artists that have appeared on his releases includes Grover Washington, Jr., Richard Elliot, Phil Perry, Peter White, Dave Koz, Rick Braun, and Larry Carlton, among others. McBride has also been the opening act for Whitney Houston, Larry Carlton, and the Yellowjackets.
The hits continue as McBride’s long sought-after dream came to fruition with the album release with his band, Texas Rhythm Band. The album featured such notable hits as Howzit in Dallas, Everything Remains the Same, the tender ballad It’s You, the snappy Lone Star Boogie, and the humorous Texas Blues Cruise. He continued recording during the new millennium, as 2002 saw the release of Keepin’ It Real, while Texas Hold’em came out in 2005. Lookin’ for A Change appeared in 2009 from Heads Up Records.
Unchain My Heart is suitable for audiences ages 13 and above. All performances are presented at the Bishop Arts Theatre Center located at 215 South Tyler, TX 75208. Showtimes per vary per production please visit bishopartstheatre.org to verify dates and times. General Admissions fees are $18 to $30. Discount tickets are available for groups of 15 or more and may be purchased by calling 214-948-0716.