Guyanese singing legend and actor Sol Raye died on March 31, aged 60.
As Sol’s musical director, record producer, arranger and friend, I am very sad to see the passing of such a fine artist and one of the real characters in showbusiness.
Born Neville Marshall-Corbin in Guyana, South America in 1946, Sol moved to England and studied acting at LAMDA.
He appeared in several seasons with the English Stage Company at the Royal Court before taking up singing full-time.
Blessed with a voice that sounded identical to Nat King Cole’s, he won a record-breaking nine times on ITV’s Opportunity Knocks, which resulted in his first recording, Not Nat (EMI). Other bestselling recordings included Mona Lisa, How Sweet It Is, Checking Out and Come Home Love.
He performed a tribute to Nat King Cole cabaret in the US, Africa, Australia and Scandinavia to great acclaim and in 1971 appeared in The Song Festival of Two Worlds in Portugal, which he won with the Tony Hatch song, When We Are Free.
In 1985 he directed and produced, A Nightingale Sang, a TV tribute to Nat King Cole at the Savoy Hotel in London. The guest of honour was Cole’s widow Maria Cole and the performers appearing were Nina Simone, Will Gaines and Danny Williams.
Sol’s acting credits included a long-running role in the C4 sitcom Desmond’s, Runaway Bay (YTV), Jericho (Old Vic), Jack of Spades (Everyman, Liverpool), Genet’s The Blacks (Royal Court) and The Decameron at the Roundhouse.
His love of life and his enthusiasm was boundless and he was a pleasure to work with over the years.