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genius + soul

Ray Charles

1930 - 2004

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Ray Charles
Ray the Oscar winner

Jamie Foxx wins the 2005 Oscar for the best actor with his role as Ray Charles. Also 2nd Oscar for best sound mix.

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in the movie RAY
Web-site Links
Ray Charles
Ray Charles Discography - Album CD
Ray Charles   1957 Atlantic
Ray Charles at Newport   1958  
Ra Charles in Person   1959  
Genius of Ray Charles   1960  
Genius + Soul = Jazz   1961  
The Genius Hits the Road   1960 ABC
The Genius after Hours   1961 Atlantic
Ray Charles and Betty Carter   1961  
The Genius Sings the Blues   1961 Atlantic
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music   1962 ABC
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Volume 2   1963  
Ray Charles Greatest Hits   1963  
Ray Charles Live in Concert   1965  
Country and Western Meets Rhythm and Blues   1965  
plus more ...      
Ray Charles
Ray Charles
BIO - Ray Charles
Ray Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson, in Albany, Georgia, USA, on September 23, 1930. He died in Los Angeles on June 10, 2004. He was blind from the age of seven.
Ray Charles was a pianist and soul singer who helped shape the sound of rhythm and blues and also brought a soulful sound to everything from country music to pop standard.

Ray Charles began going blind at an early age and was totally blind by age seven. He attended the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine, Florida. He learned to read Braille, and to write music and play various instruments.

After leaving school, Charles began working as a musician in Florida, eventually moving to Seattle, Washington in 1947. He started recording, achieving his first hit song with "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" (1951) and was influenced by Nat King Cole and Charles Brown.

After joining Atlantic Records, Charles's sound become more and more original and groundbreaking as he took the feel, and many tunes, from gospel music and put them to secular lyrics performed in front of a jazz lineup playing R&B with exceptionally tight arrangements, with an occasional nod to country music, such as his version of Hank Snow's "I'm Moving On".

His first hit was "Mess Around," which was based on the 1929 classic "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" by Pinetop Smith. He had another hit with the rap-like urban jive of "It Should Have Been Me", but went into high gear with the gospel drive of "I Got A Woman" (1955). This was followed by "This Little Girl of Mine", "Drown in My Own Tears", "Hallelujah I Love Her So," and "Lonely Avenue".

Although Ray Charles was criticized for singing gospel songs with secular lyrics, there is a long tradition of putting religious lyrics to popular songs and vice versa. After an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 he achieved mainstream success with "(The Night Time is) The Right Time" and his classic signature song, "What'd I Say".

The essence of this phase of his career can be heard on his live album Ray Charles In Person, recorded before a mostly African American audience in Atlanta in 1958. This album also features the first public performance of "What'd I Say". It broke out as a hit in Atlanta from the tape, months before it was recorded in the studio in a two-part version with better fidelity. Charles had already begun to go beyond the limits of his blues-gospel synthesis while still at Atlantic, which now called him The Genius. He recorded with large orchestras and with jazz artists like Milt Jackson and even made his first country music cover with Hank Snow's "I'm Movin' On".

Subsequently at ABC Paramount Records, Charles established greater control over his music, and broadened his approach with out and out pop music, resulting in such hits as "Unchain My Heart" and "Hit the Road, Jack".

He toured internationally and uniquely for the time the whole show was devoted to Ray Charles, his orchestra and singers "The Raylets".

In 1962, Charles surprised his new, broad audience with his landmark album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which included the numbers "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "You Don't Know Me". This was followed by a series of hits, including "You Are My Sunshine", "Crying Time", "Busted" and "Take These Chains From My Heart". In 1965, Charles was arrested for possession of heroin and was jailed for one year. After gaining his freedom, Charles defiantly released Ashford and Simpson's "Lets Go Get Stoned" (1966).

Since the 1960s, Charles's releases have been hit-or-miss, with some massive hits and critically acclaimed work, and some music that has been dismissed as unoriginal and staid. He concentrated largely on live performances, although his version of "Georgia On My Mind", a Hoagy Carmichael song originally written for a girl named Georgia, was a hit and soon was proclaimed the state song of Georgia, with Charles performing it on the floor of the state legislature. He also had success with his unique version of "America the Beautiful". In 1980 Charles gave a musical cameo appearance in The Blues Brothers.

Despite his support of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 1960s and his support for the civil rights movement Charles courted controversy when he toured South Africa in 1981 despite an international boycott of the country because of its apartheid policy. He faced pickets in South Africa and in 15 North American cities he toured subsequently including Toronto, Albany, New York City and Los Angeles. The United Nations agency supporting the boycott asked him to apologize and promise not to visit South Africa until the abolition of apartheid to which he responded that they could "kindly kiss (my) far end". Despite having described himself as a "Hubert Humphrey Democrat" Charles accepted $100,000 to perform America the Beautiful at Ronald Reagan's second inaugural ball. In response to criticism his manager, Roy Adams, commented ""for that kind of money we would have sung America The Beautiful at a Ku Klux Klan rally."

A notorious ladies' man, Charles was married twice and fathered 12 children. In a 60 Minutes profile, he admitted to Ed Bradley that he "auditioned" his female back-up singers. The saying was, "To be a Raelet, you've got to let Ray". From the time of his switch from straight rhythm and blues with a combo, Charles was often accused of selling out. Charles left behind his classic formulation of rhythm and blues to sing country music, pop songs, and soft-drink commercials. In the process, he went from a niche audience to worldwide fame.

He became famous again in the 1990s as a spokesman for Diet Pepsi, but it is said that it boosted his career with younger audience, particularly through popularizing the catchphrase "You've got the right one, baby!" He also did guest vocals for the INXS song "Please (You've Got That...)", on the Full Moon, Dirty Hearts album. He was an original inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He is inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, the Songwriters' Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Jazz Hall of Fame, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, and the Playboy Hall of Fame.

Ray Charles's final public appearance came on April 30, 2004, at the dedication of his music studio as an historic landmark in the city of Los Angeles. He died at the age of 73 at his home in Beverly Hills, California.

His final recorded album, Genius Loves Company, released after his death, consists of duets with various admirers and contemporaries, including B.B. King, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, and Johnny Mathis.

A critically-acclaimed bio-pic, Ray, was released in October 2004, starring Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles. The movie has already won awards for Jamie Foxx (as best actor) and the sound category. An album based upon songs in the film enjoys chart success.

The Ray Charles Foundation

The mission and purpose of the foundation came from Ray Charles himself. Although Mr. Charles lost his sight at the age of 7, he always maintained that he did not feel that his blindness was a handicap. Rather he believed that the inability to hear music would have been a handicap. Because of this philosophy, Ray Charles began to make contributions to the field of hearing impairment.
[ The Ray Charles Foundation ]
"Ray" - the movie

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in the movie RAY

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in the critically acclaimed
bio-pic of the life of Ray Charles.
Ray Charles was co-operating with the movie
production prior to his death in 2004.
Ray - trailers from the movie
Get "RAY" - the movie on DVD (US versions only)
Widescreen edition Full -screen edition
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FAQ - Time to go home

At concerts in Birmingham, England, during the 1960's when the audience clammered for repeated encores - he showed his sense of humour and stopped the show by playing "Pop goes the Weasel".

On another occasion he played the British national anthem.
You knew it was time to go home !

Recent stories
The memory of soul legend Ray Charles dominated the music world's leading music ceremony ... as he was given eight posthumous Grammy Awards. - BBC
Ray Charles
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