‘DJ’ just doesn’t do justice to Rita Ray’s breadth of work and interest, which encompasses presenting, performing, remixing, writing and composing for a varied selection of audiences across several different media.
At the heart of what Rita does, however, is the desire to play records that turn people on to new, global sounds they’ve never previously heard. This passion goes back at least as far as the legendary nights at the Mambo Inn; the Brixton club where Rita and Max Reinhardt held a residence from 1989 to 1997. The DJs’ musical menu of Latin, African and an eclectic mix of Jazz soon established the pair as the hippest and most influential selectors of ‘world ‘ styles in the UK capital.
From the Mambo Inn, Max and Rita went on to found a series of club-nights in both the UK and abroad, leading to the creation of The Shrine and The Shrine Synchro System. Inspired by the Afrika Shrine – the Lagos night club of the late, great Fela Kuti – Max and Rita’s version has operated in different London venues, including the Brixton Fridge, Jazz Café, The Spitz and Cargo, where they held a residency for four years. The Shrine has also participated in special events at all of London’s premier venues, including the Barbican Centre and the South Bank.
Described as ‘a specially deconstructed version of a Shrine club session’, the Shrine Synchro System also appears at clubs, festivals and venues throughout the UK and Europe. With the support of the British Council, it has toured to Uganda, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Finland, Russia and Ukraine.
Rita has worked extensively to combine her skills as a DJ with live music. She has jammed with collaborators as disparate as folk diva, Eliza Carthy, and Afrobeat pioneer, Tony Allen, and Rita is part of the innovative ‘decks plus real live jazz’ Short Cuts quartet alongside trumpeter, Claude Deppa, and saxophonist, Andy Sheppard. There have also been spoken word projects with MC’s, performance poets and comedians, clubbing workshops with youth in the UK and further a-field, theatre projects and more.
Working together, Rita and Max compiled The Shrine CDs for the labels Ocho and Manteca and have DJ’d and MC’d for various festivals and tours. They have presented and performed on numerous radio shows across the BBC network and their last documentary for BBC Radio 3, about Fela Kuti, can be found here.
Exclusive Rita Ray DJ Mix:
Highlife Times Vol. 2:
Highlife Time Vol 2: Nigerian and Ghanaian Classics from the Golden Years was released by Vampisoul Records in May 2011. Sequenced and selected by the Shrine’s Max Reinhardt and Rita Ray, it features gloriously funky inna highlife style tunes by Guy Warren of Ghana (Khofi Ghanaba), Celestine Ukwu, E T Mensah, Dr Victor Olaiya, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Prince Nico, Professional Uhuru Band and Bobby Benson. Click here to buy a copy.