The legendary Ronnie Butler has his way in”My Way,”his newest album.
Maybe it’s a side of him you haven’t heard before although Butler has been known to do a standard or two but with its blend of upbeat and soulful classics, the album is a side worth hearing.
On the first jazz album of his decades-long career, the”Godfather of Bahamian music”flies to the moon, pays tribute to the Girl from Ipanema and gets a little Misty.
After years of singing to the tune of the islands, Butler said that”My Way”was for him.
“‘My Way’has been a dream of mine for a long, long time,”said the artist in a recent interview.
“I just figured that now is the time and I got together with a number of very good musicians and went into the studio and just knocked it off. I am proud to have done it; I am proud of the songs. These are all songs I have been singing for years.”
The album begins with Butler’s finger-clipping version of the swing hit,”Fly Me to the Moon.”The mood sways between hip swaying bossa novas and bluesy standards as Butler displays a range of styles. The album crescendoes to its title song”My Way,”at once a declaration and an anthem for such a veteran.
Perhaps the most moving rendition of the album,”My Way”features Butler’s depth. His voice dips in a sincere baritone throughout the Frank Sinatra hit, embodying the reflective nature of the ballad.
“I did it for me,”said Butler of the album.”If I don’t sell one copy that’s fine…This one’s for me.”
Butler dedicated the album to friends who have supported him throughout the years.
“Those are the people who were there when I needed a shoulder or words of wisdom,”he said.
A new frontier
Butler releases his album at the same time that new greeting card and novelty company, Georgie Bundle, launches a line of cards bearing a caricature of the artist.
His eyes peeking out behind tinted shades, Butler grips a microphone presumably in mid-song while wearing a Santa hat. The album and the card are just in time for Christmas.
“They ain’t got no sense cause they don’t know ugly when they see it,”Butler joked.”But anyway, it’s a pleasure to be working with the people involved and it’s an honor to be the first carrier of the Georgie Bundle.”
Stevie Burrows, the artist behind the Georgie Bundle images, said that he created the Butler caricature after viewing a series of photos of the singer.
“A caricature, like a portrait, it’s gotta have some of his soul in it,”said Burrows.”You gotta feel that it’s him. It’s not successful if in two seconds you look at it and you don’t say that’s Ronnie Butler.”
The line also features a series of Bahamian/Caribbean characters with a cultural appeal. A little drummer boy framed by a palm tree marches across one card with a goatskin drum. Another design features Santa Claus on the rooftop of a house with two street signs nearby that read East Street and Bay Street. The missing chimney has Santa stumped.
“That was me being silly,”said Burrows.”As a little boy you always hear Santa Claus coming and he’s going all around the world and going inside your chimney and all that stuff, so I said, well what is he going to do when he gets here?I mean how many Bahamians got chimneys?”
Said Burrows of Georgie Bundle’s designs,”I wanted it to be a little different.”
Ronnie Butler will be at the Juke Box, Mall at Marathon today, Saturday, December 11 for a meet and greet.”My Way”and the Georgie Bundle Ronnie Butler Signature Series are on sale(My Way is sold exclusively at the Juke Box). The event will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. and includes appearances by Ta Da and Stevie Burrows.