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HOME > Dancing with the Stars > Dancing with the Stars 18

'Dancing with the Stars' hires new band directed by Ray Chew

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/07/2014 

Dancing with the Stars' upcoming eighteenth season is going to feature a new band directed by Ray Chew.

Chew, a music director and composer who previously served as American Idol's music director, will lead a new line-up of live musicians and singers next season on Dancing with the Stars who will perform everything from hits of the past to modern pop songs.

Chew is replacing longtime band director Harold Wheeler, 70, and his 28-member orchestra.

"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," Dancing with the Stars executive producer Conrad Green said in a statement.

Chew is also apparently thrilled to have been given the opportunity.

"I'm looking forward to continuing the musical legacy established on Dancing with the Stars, a show that respects live music and musicians," Chew said in a statement.

"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 Hair, the president of American Federation of Musicians, an entertainment industry union, recently slammed ABC for getting rid of Dancing with the Stars' infamous Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers after 17 seasons.

"People who love Dancing with the Stars also love the superb performances of the orchestra because it is such an integral part of the show. The tight, elaborate musical productions that catapulted the show into the top 10 in 17 countries can't be duplicated by recordings and a small combo. Viewers, whether they are young or old, will reject that as artistic fraud," Hair said in a press release.

"It's not like ABC and Disney don't have any money and can't afford an orchestra. It's about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of music, art, and those who create it. Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won't boost ratings. It will kill the show."

Dancing with the Stars' eighteenth season will premiere on Monday, March 17 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC.

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