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Musician Ray Chew Says the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Show Will Be a 'Journey Through Cultures and Genres'

·3-min read

Even if you don't immediately recognize Ray Chew's name, you're undoubtedly familiar with his work — he's the musical director and producer behind such cultural juggernauts as Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and special TV events including the Emmys and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

On Friday's episode of the PEOPLE Every Day podcast, Chew spoke to host Janine Rubenstein about his next big project: the Macy's 46th annual July 4th fireworks display, which airs on NBC Monday night.

Chew, who lives in New York, shares his excitement to work on something that he has such fond memories of as a kid.

"I remember always going down to the East River and just watching in wonderment how this glorious thing would happen and all these tremendous fireworks," he said.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07: Musical director Ray Chew attends the FOX "American Idol" finalists party at The Grove on March 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07: Musical director Ray Chew attends the FOX "American Idol" finalists party at The Grove on March 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Kevin Winter/Getty

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Chew says he was asked by NBC "to come on and curate a wonderful musical journey that would speak about my experiences with the 4th of July fireworks."

To Chew, this meant creating an experience that reflects the diversity, inclusivity, and eclectic nature of New York City: "I envisioned people who grew up or know New York. If you take a train to Midtown right at rush hour you will see everybody in the entire world represented in that train car — and everybody in the world if you freeze-frame that."

For Chew, his language is music, and it's through music that he will communicate that idea to the audience. "I wanted that to be spoken in a musical sense. And so I decided to take a journey through cultures and genres and have that represented in the score."

Having worked on Dancing with the Stars and American Idol, Chew is used to a plethora of music types, all of which he plans to include in what he jokingly calls a "great stew."

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Fireworks during the Macy's Fourth of July celebration in New York, U.S., on Sunday, July 4, 2021. Macys annual fireworks display returned to its usual grand scale over the East River this July 4, the latest sign of normalcy returning to New York City, The New York Times reported. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Fireworks during the Macy's Fourth of July celebration in New York, U.S., on Sunday, July 4, 2021. Macys annual fireworks display returned to its usual grand scale over the East River this July 4, the latest sign of normalcy returning to New York City, The New York Times reported. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty

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"You're gonna hear some wonderfully unique flavors," he began. "You're going to hear Thelonious Monk. You're gonna hear Tito Puente. You're going to hear the music of John Coltrane and Carlos Santana, some bluegrass and some country rock and some Springsteen. All kinds of stuff."

When it comes to being part of the tradition of the firework display while bringing his own twist to it, Chew says "I'm really excited about this."

Chew finished off with advice on what your Fourth of July playlist should include by giving us some insight into his own. "I go old school," he said.

His list included Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give it Up," The Gap Band's "Outstanding," and McFadden and Whitehead's "Ain't No Stopping Us Now." And of course, Chew showed he was part of The Beehive, so Beyoncé can probably be added to that list. "It's always exciting. Anything 'Beyoncé' is exciting."

Check out more episodes of PEOPLE Every Day, airing on Apple podcastsiHeartMedia, SpotifyStitcherAmazon Music or wherever you listen to your podcasts. 

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