A Toronto music technologist and software distributor is part of a group that has won this year’s Technical Grammy award.
Vincentian-born Ray Williams is a member of the German-based Celemony Software company that received the prestigious Special Merit Award presented to individuals and/or companies for significant technical contributions to the recording field.
Presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the first Technical Grammy was awarded in 1994.
Celemony, which specializes in digital audio pitch correction software, created the ground-breaking Melodyne pitch modification product that offers a wide range of audio tools to creatively and correctively adjust audio facets.
The cutting edge technology earned Celemony the Grammy.
“It hasn’t really sunk in,” said Williams who was in Los Angeles for the awards ceremony. “It’s like a blur. We didn’t expect it because we are such a small entity. The award is, however, validation of my 20 years in the music technology business and for that I am very grateful and thankful.”
Williams was turned on to music at an early age by his father who was a member of the St. Vincent & the Grenadines Police Band. Clarence Williams, who played the drums and saxophone, introduced his son to the piano and bought him a guitar before the family migrated to Toronto in 1980.
“I had musical experience when I came here, so I was able to adapt to the computer technology that was just coming on track,” he said. “I was interested in writing a program that would play music because I thought that was fascinating. I did the technical job on several shows, including Friday the 13th, My Secret Identity and Beverly Hills 90210 by lining up the computer music with the videos.”
Williams has worked with some of the best in the music business, including Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder.
‘I create excitement,” he said. “I am a marketing guy also so I reach out to retailers, composers and anybody who can use the software and I would explain how it works. By extension, I got calls from Herbie and Stevie who were looking for technical support. Stevie is a composer, but he’s blind. He needs the technology to help him. He can have 15 musicians working on a song or he can be alone with a computer working on a song. Our software allows people to simulate musicians, but it’s complex. That’s where I come in because I am a ‘techie’ and troubleshooter.”
A month before late great pianist Oscar Peterson died in December 2007, Williams facilitated a meeting in the Greater Toronto Area between Wonder and his Canadian hero who he said was the best piano player in the world.
“Oscar was very generous and Stevie was star-struck because of his adoration for Oscar,” said Williams. “It was quite a moment for him.”
In addition to running his own Scarborough-based company – Music Marketing Inc. – which is a leading distributor of music software and hardware products in North America, Williams is also a part-time music lecturer at York University and a little league coach in the Scarborough Baseball Association.
By RON FANFAIR