Who Performed the Theme Song for the Movie “In The Heat Of The Night”?

Video who sang in the heat of the night

Ray Charles was approached to sing the theme song for the 1967 film “In The Heat Of The Night.” This led to the creation of two distinct versions of the track, one for the movie’s soundtrack LP and another released as a single on ABC Records.

The Movie “In The Heat Of The Night”

Starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, the film delves into the racial tensions prevailing in America at the time. It received critical acclaim, earning five Academy Awards and becoming a cinematic classic. Sidney Poitier plays the role of a black Philadelphia detective investigating a murder in Mississippi, resulting in several memorable scenes.

The renowned Quincy Jones composed the movie’s music, while the lyrics for the theme song were written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

The LP Version of “In The Heat Of The Night”

The soundtrack LP features a shorter rendition of the title song, clocking in at 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The track begins with Ray Charles’ vocals and showcases the Raelets’ background harmonies, who occasionally join in singing the title line. The song immerses the listener in a dense and uncomfortable gospel-like atmosphere, evoking the sensation of a sweltering night filled with impending trouble.

Ray Charles’ singing is both anguished and heartfelt, with occasional moments of falsetto. This technique, which Ray had been experimenting with in 1967, adds to the song’s emotional impact. Lines such as “seems like a cold sweat sweeping across my brow” and “stars with evil eyes stare from the skies” require nothing less than Ray’s remarkable and expressive voice.

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Towards the end of the track, Ray assures listeners that there will be an end to the darkness, encouraging them to hold on and remain strong. It’s a message of hope in the face of adversity. This three-minute masterpiece captures a wide range of emotions and solidifies Ray Charles’ position as a masterful performer. It’s no wonder that this song would be your personal favorite if you were part of the movie.

The 45 Version of “In The Heat Of The Night”

The single version of the song differs significantly from the LP version, featuring its unique take on the track. Musically, the two versions are quite similar, but the single boasts a 45-second intro that is absent from the LP. This additional intro enhances the overall listening experience, providing a more complete and satisfying musical journey. Furthermore, the single version, being almost a minute longer, offers a more traditional song structure that can be enjoyed on a turntable.

Both iterations of “In The Heat Of The Night” are extraordinary, filled with dramatic moments, yearning, despair, and hope against all odds. In the face of adversity, things may seem bleak, but there is always the chance for a change in fortune. Or is there?

The soundtrack LP was released by United Artists Records, while the single was released under Ray Charles’ usual label, ABC Records.

Single Releases

If you’re interested in listening to “In The Heat Of The Night,” you can find it on 45 or in MP3 format on Amazon. Additionally, you may consider the out-of-print complete ABC singles 5xCD box set.

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