Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Monday, June 13, 2022

Chat With Ron Oates - Legendary Music Maker

Ron at his gorgeous white piano

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What do Gladys Knight, Dolly, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Big Bird have in common? They have all benefitted from the musical genius of Ron Oates!  Ron has more success in music than most Music Row executives these days, with stories to match. Though as a veteran session pianist, it's his fingers that usually sing), he loves and understands voices and I'm honored to say he is my dear friend. From just a small sample of stories from his career, you'll understand why he is 'one of the boys who make the noise on 16th avenue.' (a line from a Thom Schuyler anthem about Nashville's famed Music Row, sung by Lacy J Dalton).

Bonus story we didn't get to chat about:

Ron played piano on Dolly's master recording of her now-classic song 'I Will All Ways Love You'. They were doing a simul session with players and Dolly performing at the same time. On the first pass in the studio, Dolly missed coming in on her recitation because she was listening to the music Ron and the other musicians were playing. Yep. The power of music and a good song can even overwhelm the Songstress/writer of THAT song!

More About Ron: 

Ron Oates is a 60-plus-year veteran of the Nashville music industry as a revered session piano/keyboard player, arranger, producer and songwriter. Ron was the first pianist/arranger included in the Country Music Hall Of Fame and Museum's tribute to studio musicians. He was recognized and placed in the Congressional Record by US Congressmen Bob Clement of Tennessee and David Phelps of Illinois. In part, the honorarium states that...

 Ron Oates is one of the major creative forces behind an amazing list of hit records, and millions of record sales. 

Among the legends he's worked with are Gladys Knight, Dolly Parton, The Oak Ridge Boys,  Olivia Newton-John, Anita Pointer, Eddy Arnold, Lefty Frizzell, The Judds, Vern Gosdin, Keith Whitley, Lynn Anderson, Marty Robbins, Bobby Goldsboro, Dottie West, Billy Joe Royal, Earl Thomas Conley, and tons more. Artists he's produced include Engelbert Humperdinck, Vern Gosdin, Doug Supernaw, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, Dobie Gray and far too many more to list. 

He also played on tons of national jingles including 'Where's the Beef, and worked on several movies including Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, 9 to 5, and Sesame Street - Follow that bird, the Exterminator and 'The Buddy System. Ron has orchestrated the sound of decades of country music. 

  • Ron's website: https://ronoates.com/ (being revised presently)
  • More of Ron's credits: https://www.allmusic.com/artist/ron-oates-mn0000664052/credits

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  • At June 15, 2022 at 6:15 PM , Anonymous Ron Calabrese said...

    Hi Judy. I just finished listening to this very interesting interview of Ron Oates. He’s obviously had a fabulous career because a fellow who has listened mainly to classical music was acquainted with his name! His start in the business seems to have been one of those “meant to be situations” in which unexpected elements congealed to start such a long career. It’s remarkable how he could listen to spoken lyrics and weave music around them, although he wasn’t a singer. And he seems unique, working with singers to determine the “sweet spots” in their voice and altering keys to take advantage of the best section of their range. Masters like Verdi did this with famous arias, not forcing a singer to sing through countless passagios.
    What an interesting and obviously nice man. It’s not surprising he’s still in demand.

  • At June 17, 2022 at 1:19 PM , Blogger Elizabeth H. Cottrell said...

    What an amazing career! And the warmth of your friendship shines through in this excellent interview.

  • At June 30, 2022 at 10:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This was one of the first interviews I've heard in a long time where the interver didn't interrupt the flow of the person being interviewed. I felt like I was in the room with two friends who allowed me to sit in and learn. Nailed it! Thank you for sharing.


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