Since it burst onto American TV screens way back in 2005, the celebrity-packed competitive TV dance show Dancing with the Stars has become a much-loved fixture on US TV schedules.


Of course, viewers switch on in their millions to watch celebrities try their hand(s, and feet, and hips) at a variety of ever-more taxing dance routines, from samba to tango via foxtrot and paso doble.

But once you're watching, you'll also find yourself captivated by the programme's exciting and endlessly varied live music programme.

Performed onstage by Dancing with the Stars' own in-house orchestra, singers and conductors, the programme's live music is an integral part of its huge and enduring appeal.

But who is the mastermind behind the programme's rich and intoxicating musical menu?

Who arranges the music on Dancing with the Stars?

For 17 seasons from the show's beginning in 2005, the live music for Dancing with the Stars was provided by conductor Harold Wheeler and his orchestra and singers.

That changed in 2014, when Ray Chew was introduced as the new band leader. Ray brought his own band of musicians and singers with him.

Who is Ray Chew?

Ray Chew is an American musician who plays keyboards and is a contemporary and orchestral arranger. As well as conducting the music on Dancing with the Stars, Ray's packed CV includes work with musicians including Ashford and Simpson, Diana Ross and Luther Vandross.

How old is Ray Chew?

Ray Chew was born on 7 September 7, 1968 in New York City.

Where is Ray Chew from?

Chew grew up in the Grant Houses, a public housing project on the edge of the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan, New York.

Where was Ray Chew trained?

At the age of just six, Chew was offered a scholarship to study in the children's programme at New York's world-renowned Juilliard School. Later on, Chew studied at Harlem School of the Arts and at Third Street Music School Settlement, America's longest-running community school.

What does Ray Chew do on Dancing with the Stars?

In this wat, he performs a very similar role on Dancing with the Stars to the job done by Dave Arch on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing in the UK.

How long has Ray Chew been on Dancing with the Stars?

Ray Chew joined the Dancing with the Stars lineup in 2014, in time for the show's 18th season - which was won by Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis and professional dance partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

What else has Ray Chew done?

Ray Chew has worked with a host of major-league musicians. Aged just 19, he was recruited by legendary songwriting and recording duo Ashford & Simpson (of 'Solid' fame) to work as their music director. He's also featured, as either pianist or arranger, on a host of recordings by the likes of Diana Ross, Luther Vandross and Roberta Flack.

One of Ray Chew's very first engagements, while still a child, was playing with the band for the legendary TV programme Saturday Night Live, from 1980 to 1983. Later in, during the 1990s and 2000s, Ray served as music director for the TV series Showtime at the Apollo, and as bandleader on the game show The Singing Bee.


Dancing with the Stars isn't Ray's first major TV gig. He was music director for the Fox TV talent show American Idol from 2010 to 2013. In 2014, he was musical director for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.