About this blog

Susan Cross Writes

As a contributing writer to several magazines over the years, I have interviewed many musicians and artists; people who help make our world a little bit better by using their gifts and talent. I can't imagine a world without music and art. Creativity adds joy to our ever-changing world. It's the good news that we need to offset the bad.

Before his death, I was working with Leroy 'Hog' Cooper on his memoir. Cooper was Ray Charles' bandleader for 20 years. Although the memoir was completed, due to a contract dispute it was never published. 

This blog includes chapters and snippets from the memoir and a little clip in Leroy's own voice so that he will never be forgotten. During the 2 year process of researching his stories, I interviewed a number of Ray Charles' former musicians, some listed below. I also interviewed David Ritz, the writer of the Ray Charles autobiography. Ritz had written the Foreword for the memoir.

Some of musicians and celebrities I have interviewed include Tony Bennett; Arlo Guthrie; David Fathead Newman; Donald Peake; Pat Travers; Marcus Belgrave; Wanda Sykes; Ronnie Van Zant of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd; Yes (the band); Ernest Vantrease, former Ray Charles keyboardist and current keyboardist for B.B. King; Sisaundra Lewis, former vocalist for La Nouba and currently a now contestant on NBC's The Voice; Benoit Glazer, conductor of Cirque du Soleil La Nouba along with the five musicians and two vocalists that provide the incredible live music that brings the visual show to life. Over the years there have been many others. I am still adding to this blog to bring it up to date.

Musicians are not my only focus. During the past ten years I have interviewed Pierre Henri Matisse, a working artist who is the grandson of Henri Matisse, the world renowned impressionist artist. Thomas Thorspecken, a sketch artist, is among my other featured artists.

My pleasure comes from meeting the artists and finding out who they are when they're not defined by their art. Without the microphones, paint brushes and instruments I have met some extraordinary human beings, both famous and not famous. My goal during an interview is to ask questions that have not already been asked and answered by so many journalists. I strive to add something personal and not previously known or published.

Calling all Ray Charles fans: You may know who Leroy "Hog" Cooper was. If not, Coop was Ray's bandleader and baritone sax player for almost 20 years between 1957 and 1977. After that time, he settled in Orlando, Florida where he retired from Disneyworld. He rejoined Ray in later years for one more tour.

The tab "Leroy Cooper on Sax" includes excerpts from from conversations we had over more than two years before he passed away on January 15, 2009.

Please comment or critique to let me know you visited and tell me what you like--or don't. All comments will be treated equally.

© 2017 Susan Cross – All rights reserved

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