J. Ralph (Courtesy: Mark Abrahams)
By: Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter
“They’re all about these giant concepts — climate change, the war, autism, species extinction, globalization, one after the next,” says songwriter/composer J. Ralph of the documentaries to which he has contributed music over the years, as we sit down at his Malibu home to record an episode of THR‘s ‘Awards Chatter’ podcast. They have included several films that won the best documentary feature Oscar (2008’s Man on Wireand 2009’s The Cove) or were nominated for it (2012’s Hell and Back Again and 2014’s Virunga). However, 2016’s Jim: The James Foley Story, the most recent doc to which he lent his talents, is different. “This one was about one person,” he notes, namely the eponymous freelance American war correspondent who, in 2014, was killed in Syria while trying to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis occurring there. “I wanted to recognize and celebrate the beauty of this great man who risked his life and gave his life to help show the world the civilian casualties of war and the suffering that’s going on around the world.”
Ralph, 41, is the only individual who has received multiple Oscar noms for songs featured in documentaries: “Chasing Time” from 2013’s Chasing Ice and “Manta Ray” from 2015’s Racing Extinction (the latter of which he co-wrote with Anohni). This year, he may well extend that record with a third nom, for “The Empty Chair,” a song that he and three-time Oscar nominee Sting were moved to write for Jim‘s end-credits — free of charge — after seeing Brian Oakes‘ film about Foley’s life and death.
(Click below to listen to this episode or here to access all of our 100+ episodes via iTunes. Past guests include Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Eddie Murphy, Lady Gaga, Robert De Niro, Amy Schumer, Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez, Louis C.K., Kristen Stewart, Harvey Weinstein, Sally Field, Jerry Seinfeld, Jane Fonda, Tyler Perry, Kate Winslet, Michael Moore, Helen Mirren, J.J. Abrams, Taraji P. Henson, Warren Beatty, Kate Beckinsale, Michael Eisner, Brie Larson, Sting, Natalie Portman, RuPaul, Sheila Nevins, Justin Timberlake and Nicole Kidman.)
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