Joseph Raymond Conniff (November 6, 1916 – October 12, 2002) was an American bandleader and arranger best known for his Ray Conniff Singers during the 1960's. Between 1957-68, Conniff had 28 albums in the American Top 40, the most famous one being Somewhere My Love (1966).
Conniff commented, "One time I was recording an album with Mitch Miller - we had a big band and a small choir. I decided to have the choir sing along with the big band using wordless lyrics. The women were doubled with the trumpets and the men were doubled with the trombones. In the booth Mitch was totally surprised and excited at how well it worked." Because of the success of his backing arrangements, and the new sound Conniff created, Miller allowed him to make his own record, and this became the successful ’s Wonderful!, a collection of standards that were recorded with an orchestra and a wordless singing chorus (four men, four women). He released many more albums in the same vein, including ’s Marvelous (1957, gold album), ’s Awful Nice (1958), Concert in Rhythm (1958, gold album), Broadway in Rhythm (1958), Hollywood in Rhythm (1959), Concert in Rhythm, Vol. II (1960), Say It With Music (1960), Memories Are Made of This (1960, gold album), and ’s Continental (1962).
In 1959, he started The Ray Conniff Singers (12 women and 13 men, comprising mainly the Ron Hicklin Singers with augmentation by others) and released the album It's the Talk of the Town. This group brought him the biggest hit he ever had in his career: Somewhere My Love (1966). The lyrics of the album's title selection were written to the music of "Lara's Theme" from the film Doctor Zhivago, and the result was a top 10 single in the US.
The album reached the US top 20 and went platinum, and Conniff won a Grammy. The single and album also reached high positions in the international charts (a.o. Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Japan), while the first of four Christmas albums by the Singers, Christmas with Conniff (1959) was also successful. Nearly 50 years after its release, in 2004, Conniff was posthumously awarded a platinum album/CD.