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Playing this Summer: Ralph Butler

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 25, 2011PROFILE: Ralph Butler has been a major presence on the St. Louis entertainment scene for several decades and has built a reputation as one of the most in-demand performers for everything from concerts and festivals to wedding receptions and private events. Butler has been singing since he was a child, but his professional career as a musician began to blossom when he joined the Jay Barry band while he was still in high school.

After a couple of years with Barry's group, Butler briefly sang with several other bands, but soon decided to start his own group in the early 1970s. Over the years, Butler has built a loyal following with a wide-ranging musical repertoire that includes everything from soul and R&B to pop, reggae and some jazz as well.

But it's Butler's ability to connect with those who come to see and hear him that's really the foundation of his long run of success as an entertainer. He puts a major emphasis on involving the audience from the time he steps on stage until the concert is over.

Butler has released a couple recordings over the years. "Sincerely Yours" came out in 1989, and "You Know My Heart" was released in 2006. Both showcase Butler's skill as a singer and a songwriter, but performing music live is where Butler really shines. You can catch him Tuesday at a free concert at Faust Park in Chesterfield.

Butler provides answers to a few questions about his music - and himself.

HOME: St. Louis County

AGE: I have been performing professionally for 42 years. And I've been working with my own band for 38 years.

INSTRUMENTS: Vocals, percussion, a little guitar ... and a great deal of ham!

HOBBIES: Building, fishing, gardening, shooting pool. And I also have to include spirituality and metaphysics, because both are also a big part of my lifestyle.

LAST CONCERT ATTENDED: I don't get to too many concerts because I always seem to be performing myself. But I did go to Pat Metheny's Orchestrion Concert at the Touhill.

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Helping to nourish audiences with my performances. Music is a magical connection when given from - and received into - the heart.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO: I love it! And I also enjoy the connections that come from it.

QUOTE: This is the beginning of a quote from a speech by Nelson Mandela. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

Check out Ralph Butler's website, www.ralphbutler.com, for more info and his complete schedule.

Faust Park Concert Series

Faust Park at 15185 Olive Blvd, just north of I-64, is home to the Butterfly House, several restored historic homes, and the annual concert series sponsored by the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce. The 10-week series is held on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. Concessions are available.

There's pre-concert and intermission entertainment for kids provided by Chesterfield Parks and Recreation, Chesterfield Arts and other organizations, so this is definitely a family-friendly environment. Bring lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy the music. For more info, go to http://chesterfieldmochamber01.businesscatalyst.com/Summer-Concerts.html.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer who has long covered the St. Louis music scene.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He has written for the St. Louis Beacon since 2009. Terry's other writing credits in St. Louis include: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis American, the Riverfront Times, and St. Louis magazine. Nationally, Terry writes for DownBeat magazine, OxfordAmerican.org and RollingStone.com, among others.

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