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Ray Charles goes back to gospel roots

LOS ANGELES -- Grammy-winning entertainer Ray Charles has gone back to his gospel music roots.

"It was very nostalgic, bringing me back to my childhood at church on Sundays," Charles said this week ahead of the release of a 90-minute concert DVD "Ray Charles Celebrates A Gospel Christmas."

In 1953, Charles recorded his first big hit "I Got A Woman," a blend of gospel and blues, but he never thought about being a serious gospel singer.

"My mother said you can't serve two masters, and I sing rhythm and blues," he said.

The 13-time Grammy Award winner recorded the gospel DVD during a concert last November in Green Bay, Wis. He was joined on stage by 70 singers from the Newark, N.J., Voices of Jubilation Choir.

It was the first time Charles, 73, has performed traditional gospel music in public since he was a boy singing in church in rural Georgia and Florida.

The DVD selections include "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)," "Little Drummer Boy," "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Silent Night," "The First Noel" and "Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer."

A portion of the proceeds from DVD sales will go to the nonprofit Save Africa's Children.


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