The show recently fired Harold Wheeler and his band, who were reportedly going to be replaced with records and a small electronic band. However, after that initial report, Entertainment Weekly also heard from a source close to the show that "live music will still be very much a part of the show."
We thought maybe that meant for special events, like when Cher showed up, but ABC just announced that a music director and composer, Ray Chew, is coming to the ballroom starting with Season 18, which premieres on Monday, March 17. His band will “feature a new line-up of live musicians and singers performing music ranging from the latest pop hits to the great standards of the past.”
DWTS executive producer Conrad Green said, in a statement, “Live music is the lifeblood of DWTS and we couldn’t be more excited to be working with Ray and his talented band. Ray is one of the most versatile and dynamic musicians working today. It promises to be a spectacular season.”
Ray added, “I’m looking forward to continuing the musical legacy established on Dancing with the Stars, a show that respects live music and musicians. It is important to me and to the producers to maintain the integrity of the music presentation for the dancers as well as for the viewers. Towards that end, my approach will be to utilize first class live vocalists, arrangers, copyists and musicians of all instruments.”
Ray was most recently the music director of the 65th annual Emmy Awards, and previously conducted a 63-piece orchestra for Carnegie Hall's “A Night of Inspiration,” a live event he produced as part of their diversity series.
So now we have to rethink this whole change. It initially sounded like a cost-saving measure that would also modernize the show with an attempt to bring in a younger audience, but maybe something else is going on. Is it just a different kind of cost-cutting? It’s not clear how big this band will be, so maybe it’s a downsizing move, or maybe they just wanted a change and for whatever reason, this is what happened. We’ll see the results on March 17.
Anyway, live music appears to still be here to stay. Are you happy to hear it, still sad to lose Harold Wheeler’s band, or just confused in general?