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Last updated October 2, 2012

A TASTE OF HEAVEN: The Heartbreak Life of Raymond Myles

The epic struggle of a gay gospel icon from New Orleans who was murdered, on the cusp of stardom, in the projects he could not escape.

A TASTE OF HEAVEN: The Heartbreak Life of Raymond Myles

The epic struggle of a gay gospel icon from New Orleans who was murdered, on the cusp of stardom, in the projects he could not escape.

$6,975
pledged of $63,000pledged of $63,000 goal
31
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, March 22 2012 9:31 PM UTC +00:00
Last updated October 2, 2012
 

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    A THANK YOU ON OUR WEBSITE

    We'll sing your praises on our website as a joyous choir shouts out your good name…and a brass band mambos to an unforgiving beat...and the prettiest Mardi Gras Indians in their finest suits preen and strut...and your favorite krewe throws you a fist full of glass beads…and everyone gets a slice of king cake and a glittery coconut for good luck.

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    A rare and highly unusual two-sided promotional postcard showing the covers of Raymond's "A Taste of Heaven" and "Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan." It was printed on glossy paper to raise awareness for these two worthy projects.

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    A REHEARSAL BY THE RAYMOND MYLES SINGERS

    Attend a closed rehearsal in New Orleans with the mighty Raymond A. Myles Singers as they prepare for their 30th anniversary concert on May 3rd at the annual Jazz & Heritage Festival. Jazzfest was always a special time for Raymond and the R.A.M.S. in the Gospel Tent, so the Holy Ghost will definitely be in the house.

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    Raymond loved Donny Hathaway -- for the tone and timbre of his voice; for the way he mingled seduction and social consciousness; for his fragile heart. Raymond transformed Donny's "Everything Must Change" into one of his own signature songs, and we found a soul-stirring version that Raymond performed alone at the piano during an audition for Sony Music in the summer of '95. Let's say it's hotter than July.

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    FIND HIDDEN TREASURES WITH A NATIVE SON

    Explore the by-gone New Orleans music scene with Grammy-nominated music producer Carlo Ditta. Carlo has produced such great artists as Coco Robicheaux, Mighty Sam McClain and Willy (Mink) DeVille for his Orleans Records label. He'll take you to the corridor of uptown churches where gospel and r&b first joined hands. You'll swing by the iconic Dew Drop Inn on LaSalle where Duke Ellington and Ray Charles played and stayed during segregation; and Cosimo Matassa's landmark J&M Recording Studio on Rampart where Fats Domino and so many other pioneers cut the first rock & rhythm records. Carlo will even take you to the Joy Lounge on the West Bank where mob boss Carlos Marcello championed local talent like Sugar Boy Crawford, whose grandson is Piano Prince Davell Crawford. "Raymond was a big influence on Davell," Carlo points out. "It's a perfect example of how everything fits hand-in glove in New Orleans."

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    A SINGLE BY THE NEW ORLEANS SOCIAL CLUB

    We felt Raymond's spirit when The New Orleans Social Club recorded a unique benefit CD called "Sing Me Back Home" immediately after Katrina. The band cut a powerhouse version of John Fogerty's "Fortunate Son" at those highly emotional sessions -- it's a searing jab at the powers that be. With your pledge we'll send you an alternate version of the performance, which features the ferociously funky Ivan Neville on lead vocals and organ. "Catharsis never sounded cooler," said Entertainment Weekly about the project. We'll also include Raymond's "Everything Must Change."

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    A RAYMOND COMIC BOOK

    Illustrator Jake Alvarez has created the first five pages of a graphic novel strip about Raymond's life, and he'll sign one of these original pen-and-ink illustrations for your pledge. You can view the strip in the HypnoSpiral link at the bottom of the Rewards page. "I think the graphic medium serves his larger-than-life persona pretty well," Jake says. Your pledge also includes copies of "Fortunate Son" and "Everything Must Change."

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    A POWERFUL POSTER OF RAYMOND

    An eye-popping promotional poster for "A Taste of Heaven" that depicts Raymond adjusting his signature black frame glasses against a background of baby blue clouds. The picture of Raymond was taken by the late, great photojournalist David Gahr. The caption on the 11"x17" poster reads: "Faith & Funk by The Gospel Genius of New Orleans." It's very suitable for framing. We'll also include "Everything Must Change" and "Fortunate Son" with your pledge.

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    THE SPIRIT OF JOHN COLTRANE

    Raymond was on a spiritual quest in his short, turbulent life. John Coltrane, the jazz immortal who made the incandescent album "A Love Supreme" in 1965, was on a similar quest as well. With your pledge we're pleased to offer a hardcover copy of "A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album" (Viking, 2002) along with a newly mastered copy of "A Love Supreme" on CD. Author Ashley Kahn will personally dedicate your copy of the book; it's a beautiful hymn of praise in the style of his absorbing "Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece" (Da Capo Press, 2001). "John and Raymond were similar in the way they both went looking for a deeper meaning in life and music," Ashley says. "Their paths were different, but their creative trajectories were the same."

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    THE MAJESTY OF LUTHER VANDROSS

    Raymond was deeply moved by the soul and sensitivity of Luther Vandross, so we're thrilled to offer "Love, Luther," a lavish boxed set with 56 stunning songs spread across 4 CDs. Luther's voice has never sounded warmer or richer on this spectacular career-spanning overview. The four hours of music exquisitely capture the essence of LV, from heart-stopping ballads like "Here And Now" and "Dance With My Father" to funky favorites like "Never Too Much," "'Til My Baby Comes Home" and "Stop To Love." There are also excerpts from Luther's start as a jingle singer; those delicious duets with Cheryl Lynn, Dionne Warwick, Mariah Carey, Beyonce and Frank SInatra; stunning live versions of "A House Is Not A Home" and "Searching" from his days with Change; three intimate songs recorded live in the studio -- with just a rhythm section -- during the making of his "Give Me The Reason" LP; and a deluxe 60-page booklet featuring rare family photographs, a powerful essay by Ernest Hardy and a touching poem of thanksgiving composed by Luther's mother. With thanks to our friends at Legacy Recordings, your pledge also includes a CD of Luther's hottest dance mixes, such as the posthumously released club hit "Shine." "Love, Luther" is guaranteed to keep the home fires burning.

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    RAYMOND'S ORIGINAL VINYL ALBUM

    We have one sealed copy from the very first pressing of Raymond's thrilling debut album, "New Orleans' Gospel Genius." Raymond is a font of soul on this amazing LP which Great Southern Records released to great fanfare in 1988. The album includes Raymond's breakout single "I Go To The Rock," which still lights up request lines like a Christmas tree. The record also features
    Raymond's proteges Anthony Bailey and Jerard Woods, who became great artists on their own. As Raymond wrote in the liner notes, "Love is the key. Faith unlocks any door. And hope keeps our dreams alive." We'll also include copies of "Everything Must Change" and "Fortunate Son" with your pledge.

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    PLAY DJ WITH JIMMY VIVINO OF THE CONAN O'BRIEN BAND

    Grab your favorite slice of Crescent City soul and spin it live on "Sounds of Blue," the earth-quaking, hip-shaking radio show hosted by the infamous Bob Putignano on WFDU-FM in Teaneck, New Jersey. "Sounds of Blue" is a bold celebration of blues, roots and all things New Orleans -- it's positively funkier than a mosquito's tweeter. In honor of your pledge, Bob has invited a kindred spirit to the studio: the great guitarist and raconteur Jimmy Vivino who leads the killer Basic Cable Band on the Conan O'Brien show. Jimmy may be from Jersey but he was reincarnated from the Dew Drop Inn: he knows the New Orleans songbook positively by heart. Like Bob, Jimmy wants to see this documentary on Raymond reach the big screen. "Come on, man," he says. "Raymond was sensational! It's time to tell his story." Expect a boatload of splashy musical joys (and the usual braggadocio involving mamas and meatballs) when these proud and soulful sons of Italy do their thing. You'll also receive copies of "Fortunate Son" and "Everything Must Change."

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    RAYMOND'S CLASSIC STUDIO CD

    We're delighted to send you a copy of Raymond's only full-length studio album which he titled "A Taste of Heaven." The reviews gratified Raymond. “Its glories runneth over,” said David Fricke in Rolling Stone. “A high-octane blend of spirituality spiked with torrid pop, soul, funk and pure gut emotion worn ostentatiously on Raymond's stylish sleeve,” wrote The Hartford Courant. "Instant chills…earth-moving power…devastating calls to faith…affirmations of what's good in the world," The Philadelphia Inquirer raved. While the physical CD that Sony Music released in 2003 is long out of print, your copy will come directly from the original master tapes. We'll also include copies of "Fortunate Son" and "Everything Must Change."

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    A VISIT WITH BROTHER JESSE

    Every Sunday morning on WWOZ-FM in New Orleans, Brother Jesse Hawthorne ministers to his flock with an uplifting gospel show that makes the world a better place. Join him as he transforms the studio into a sanctuary filled with healing powers, and also take home copies of "A Taste of Heaven," "Fortunate Son" and "Everything Must Change." Jesse has been keeping Raymond's music, and memory, alive for years. "We're thankful for Raymond," he says. "He was New Orleans' very own."

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    THE MAJESTY OF ARETHA FRANKLIN

    Everyone knows that Raymond adored Lady Soul, and we have five copies of "Take A Look: Aretha FranklIn Complete On Columbia," a breathtaking boxed set of her pop, jazz and blues recordings from 1960 through 1964 -- on 11 CDs and 1 DVD. This remarkable collection is courtesy of Legacy Recordings and it makes a convincing case that Aretha was already royalty before she became The Queen at Atlantic Records. Her flashes of divinely inspired greatness are everywhere: in the biting social commentary of "This Bitter Earth," in the gospel transcendence of "Without The One You Love," in the languid rapture of "Just For A Thrill." With original mini-jackets, mono mixes, alternate takes, studio conversations, a stunning 64-page booklet with essays and previously unseen photographs -- plus the DVD from Aretha's electrifying TV appearances on "The Steve Allen Show," including knockout versions of "Won't Be Long," "Skylark" and "Evil Gal Blues" -- "Take A Look" is the ultimate portrait of Aretha's gestating genius.

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    RARE MUSIC BY RAYMOND & FRIENDS

    Some very rare and tasty musical treats, starting with two versions of Raymond's "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" -- an ambient mix and a house mix -- that were created by the UK's premier dance remix label, the always adventurous Almighty Records in London. New Orleans returns the favor and flavor with a wonderful recording of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" by the group Church Street. The track was never commercially released but we're sure that Sir Paul would approve. Church Street featured some of Raymond's favorite singers; to hear them blend their voices is to imagine that Raymond is right there, too. The arrangement by the late Michael Robinson is just as remarkable. Big Mike was a rising star in the gospel world. He was based at Bishop Paul S. Morton's Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans, and he was one of Raymond's most innovative proteges. We miss him, too.

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    RAYMOND'S FIRST 45 R.P.M. SINGLE

    As a child, Raymond's fragile tenor reminded everyone of a young Michael Jackson. With this pledge you'll receive the original 45 r.p.m. single that Raymond recorded for Peek-A-Boo Records in 1969, just as the world was beginning its love affair with the Jackson Five. The A side, "Prayer From A 12-Year-Old Boy," shows why Raymond was the darling child of churchgoers in New Orleans. But the flip side, "You Made A Man Out of Me, Baby," scandalized Raymond and set in motion the maverick course his career would take. The single was produced and arranged by the exalted Wardell Quezerque -- affectionately known as the Creole Beethoven -- who never worked with children but happily made an exception for Raymond. The 45 has plenty of crackle and pop, but its still a tangible slice of Raymond's immortal soul. We'll also include copies of "A Taste of Heaven" and all the other CDs we've mentioned.

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    MEET GOSPEL STAR CRAIG ADAMS

    Attend a master class led by the sensational gospel keyboardist Craig Adams. Craig is simply one of the baddest organ players, in any style, on the Crescent City scene. His songs of praise and worship speak to our better selves, and his star is currently rising across Europe. But he'll come to close the Gospel Tent at Jazzfest on May 6th with his dynamic group called Dimensions of Praise. Craig was also one of the Maestro's most fervent musical disciples. "Raymond was a great inspiration to me," he says, "a warrior for the Word. I played his single 'I Go To The Rock' until I wore it out." With your pledge you'll also receive the assorted CDs.

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    MEET GLENN PATSCHA OF OLLABELLE

    Raymond would have loved the sound of the great American roots group Ollabelle: for their crystalline voices; for their ethereal harmonies; and especially for their knack of bringing new life to traditional gospel songs such as "Jesus On The Mainline" and "John the Revelator." "That's gratifying to hear," says Ollabelle's passionate pianist Glenn Patscha. "I saw Raymond perform many times when I lived in New Orleans. He took me to some profound spiritual places." Glenn holds the keys to the Crescent City in his own fingertips -- you can hear them in his melodic sensibilities and light-fingered flourishes -- and he's graciously offered to spend some time in exchange for your pledge. "It's a way of re-connecting with Raymond," he says. The various CDs are also included.

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    MEET JOHN MAGNIE OF THE SUBDUDES

    "I loved Raymond," says John Magnie of the subdudes. "As soon as we'd finish our own set at Jazzfest, I'd run right over to the Gospel Tent to see him. He just made my soul happy." John is also happy to make the hang with you in recognition of your pledge. John is a one-man Nola-palooza, a jaunty singer-songwriter and deeply moving pianist and accordionist who can hot-wire every conceivable combination of rock, folk, country, blues and soul. He's fronting a new group now called 3 Twins that also features the subdudes' fabulous drummer Steve Amadee. "I'd like to see this film made," John says. "I always thought Raymond's message was a tablet from the mount." All the CDs we've mentioned are included with your pledge.

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    MEET TOMMY MALONE OF THE SUBDUDES

    "Raymond was something else," says Tommy Malone, the smoldering singer-songwriter and guitarist from the subdudes. "He was this touchstone for gospel truth." Tommy, who's currently performing with his brother, Dave, in the Malone Brothers, tells his own truth in the bittersweet songs he writes -- about love, loss and betrayal -- and sings with an ache in his voice, and heart. Tommy would do almost anything to support his New Orleans heritage. That includes making some hang time with your pledge. "I don't imagine we'll see anyone quite like Raymond anytime soon," he laments. Our CDs rewards are included here, too.

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    MEET WAYNE AND WANDA VAUGHN OF THE EMOTIONS

    Raymond had some faithful fans in Wayne and Wanda Vaughn -- the influential songwriters and producers who gave Maurice White and Earth, Wind & Fire some of their most spirit-driven jams, including "Let's Groove," "Side By Side," "I Wanna Be With You" and "Fall In Love With Me." With your pledge you can meet the Vaughns in Los Angeles, where they are recognized as the First Family of Faith & Funk,."Raymond was touched by the Spirit," says Wanda, a founding member of The Emotions who blessed the world with the "Best of My Love." "I can hear the anointing in his voice." Wayne -- a gifted keyboardist who brings the church to everything he writes and plays -- says he can relate to Raymond's struggle between the earthly and the divine. "Deep down, I think we all can," he says. You'll also receive the various CDs with your pledge.

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    ENJOY THE SARATOGA JAZZ FESTIVAL

    Swing into summer with a VIP package to the 35th annual Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in scenic Saratoga Springs, New York, on Saturday, June 30th and Sunday, July 1st. This year's performers include Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Diana Krall, Arturo O'Farill, Esperanza Spalding, Christian McBride, Jeremy Pelt, The Mingus Big Band, Michel Camilo, Maceo Parker, The Yellowjackets, Chris Botti and the awe-inspiring Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez, among others. "Shorty" alone is worth the price of this pledge. Recently named Offbeat magazine's Artist of the Year, he plays fierce funk, jazz, r&b and bounce on a growling trombone and a stratospheric trumpet while his raucous, riffing rock band thunders like an army of love. Your VIP package includes house seats for both days, a backstage tour and the many CDs we've discussed. Dan Melnick, who curates the festival so tastefully for his Absolutely Live Entertainment company -- and recently presented the rollicking New Orleans revue "A Night In Treme" that made a roof-raising stop at the Kennedy Center -- will introduce you to your favorite artists, too.

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    GO INSIDE THE EDIT ROOM

    Join the production team in the trenches as the documentary races toward the finish line. Be a guest observer at an editing session as we hunker down to make crucial creative decisions in the days before we submit the project to prominent film festivals. We'll also share the great CDs we've noted above.

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    ENJOY THE NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL

    When Bob Jones -- the beloved producer of the Newport Folk Festival -- brought Raymond and his group to play the prestigious festival on a sleepy Sunday morning in the summer of 1998, the Maestro took the stage at Fort Adams State Park on the banks of the Narragansett Bay with the confidence of a Biblical sage ready to lay down the law. "From his vantage point, the audience churning at his feet might have looked like the Red Sea parting," Bob recalls. Three months later, Raymond was gone. In his honor, Bob is donating a pair of tickets for each day of this year's event, on Saturday, July 28th, and Sunday, July 29th. And he's personally offering two nights of hotel accommodations at the Marriott Courtyard, in nearby Middletown, R.I. Plus, Bob will escort you on a tour of the festival's hallowed backstage grounds. "I am quite sure," he says, "that Raymond will be there, in some shape or form." Your pledge also includes the many great CDs that we've discussed.

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    MEET CYRIL NEVILLE

    Cyril Neville, the original New Orleans Uptown Ruler and rhythmic firebrand for the Neville nation, and his African Queen Gaynielle Neville hold a special place in their hearts for Raymond: on their wedding day, the Maestro bestowed his blessings with a love song. "Raymond was similar to Jesus in certain ways," Cyril says. "He was a magnet for anyone trying to find their way. They could be runaways, unwed mothers, dropouts, it didn't matter. He welcomed all." Along with the various CDs that will come with your pledge, Cyril will take you on a spontaneous tour of his New Orleans -- the same New Orleans that has challenged him since Katrina -- and he'll tell it like it is. "I believe in faith, and healing powers," he says, "but I also know it takes action to get things done."

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    MEET THE HORN SECTION FROM THE CONAN O'BRIEN BAND

    Raymond relied on a Kurzweil synthesizer to simulate the sound of the archangel Gabriel -- imagine him jamming with a real horn section like the high-flying trumpeter Mark (The Love Man) Pender; the towering trombonist Richie (LaBamba) Rosenberg; and the swaggering saxophonist Jerry Vivino from Conan O'Brien's television band. With your pledge, you can lunch in Los Angeles with this tremendous trio who've played the Super Bowl with Bruce Springsteen and performed with just about every major artist who's ever appeared on late-night TV. They're also band leaders in their own right. The Love Man loves the Kansas City swing of his youth and sings with the bravado of Big Joe Turner; LaBamba is a brilliant arranger whose big band charts for Southside Johnny's "Grapefruit Moon: The Songs of Tom Waits" were worthy of the great Neal Hefti; and Jerry is a magical multi-instrumentalist who can channel Johnny Hodges and Cannonball Adderley or show his affinity for Jean-Pierre Rampal and Hubert Laws. But most of all, they cherish the music and culture of New Orleans -- Mark and Richie were on part of the "Seeger Sessions" tour that stopped in New Orleans on that emotional Sunday in 2006 when Bruce played the first Jazzfest after Katrina.

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    MEET PHILLY SOUL LEGEND KENNY GAMBLE

    Raymond's rousing version of "Wake Up Everybody" by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes was one of the highlights of "A Taste of Heaven." It was a natural choice for Raymond to record because the lyrics sung by Teddy Pendergrass spoke to Raymond's own responsibility as a teacher in the New Orleans schools. Kenny Gamble, who produced the original recording with his songwriting partner Leon Huff for their legendary Philadelphia International Records label, says he can see strong similarities between Raymond's mission and his own lifelong dedication to the betterment of the community. Kenny -- who'll make time to meet you with your pledge -- and Leon have given us so many enduring anthems as the storied creators of the sleek, sophisticated art form called The Sound of Philadelphia: let's start with The O'Jays' "Love Train," Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones" and The Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me By Now." "I like the way Raymond put a message in his own music," Kenny says. "It's all about the message." A powerful compilation of Philadelphia International's greatest hits, including jams and slams by The O'Jays, The Blue Notes, Billy Paul, Lou Rawls, People's Choice, The Intruders, McFadden & Whitehead, MFSB, Patti Labelle and The Three Degrees, and all the various CDs we've promised, are included with your pledge.

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    MEET GEORGE PORTER, JR.

    George Porter, Jr. knows something about greatness. As a founding member of The Meters, his influence on modern music is incalculable. George just received OffBeat magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award, and we can't think of a more deserving honoree. So when George says that he admired Raymond, and regrets that they never jammed together -- this matters. George is many things: incendiary bassist, bandleader, pocket protector, musical healer, guardian of the groove, among them. He's also a big supporter of this project, and he's donating some hang to help us reach our goal -- and help you to funkify your life. "Doing this film is very important, but not just for New Orleans," he says. "I think Raymond's story speaks to the world."

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    MASTER YOUR MUSIC WITH A MASTER

    Joe Palmaccio is one of the music world's most sought-after mastering engineers. A three-time Grammy Award-winner, Joe brought warmth and richness to the sound of Raymond's "A Taste of Heaven" CD. He's also brought his magic touch to music by Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Eric Clapton, Luther Vandross, Johnny Cash, AC/DC, Godsmack and the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever." In Raymond's honor, Joe will personally master a song of your choice, in any genre, at his state-of-the-art studio in Nashville called The Place…For Mastering. This is a golden -- even platinum -- opportunity to master your music with a Master. "I promise to give you my special sauce," Joe says. Our CD rewards are included with your pledge.

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    MEET CHRIS JASPER OF THE ISLEY BROTHERS

    Raymond liked to get his groove going with The Isley Brothers. He especially admired the brothers' musical connection to the church. With this pledge you'll have the pleasure of meeting Chris Jasper, the brothers' brother-in-law who single-handedly helped the Isleys stay in sync during the Seventies with innovators like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Earth, Wind & Fire. Chris will preview songs from his forthcoming album, tentatively titled "Inspired," at the world-famous Battery Studios in New York. Music lovers may not realize that Chris wrote, arranged and produced most of brothers' best material, including "Harvest For The World," "For The Love of You," "Footsteps In The Dark" and "Groove With You," among so many other life-affirming hits. He also composed and produced "Caravan of Love" for Isley Jasper Isley to secure his seat in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. "I appreciate that Raymond had a difficult spiritual journey," Chris says. "All we can do in this life is bring love where we can." Your pledge also includes our many CD rewards.

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    A V.I.P. PARTY FOR THE FINISHED FILM

    Celebrate with us as we proudly present the finished film to friends and supporters like you. We'll find a fearless iron chef to make us a lil' sumpin' sumpin' and then toast to Raymond's eternal spirit. We'll share the music on those great CDs. And of course we'll arrange for a few musical surprises...

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    YOUR PRODUCER'S CREDIT

    Become an Associate Producer of the film and a permanent part of Raymond's legacy. Your honorary credit will appear on the screen and in the DVD. Your credit will also have cachet in the authoritative IMDb (the Internet Movie Data base). We'll say thank you with our various CDs and a bonus compilation of songs that shaped and influenced Maestro Myles. You'll play a vital role in telling his great untold story -- a story that preserves a part of the cultural heritage of New Orleans.

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Funding period

- (30 days)