Ray Charles, born Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), to be a pioneering American pianist, musician and also entertainer who, by presenting gospel develops into secular music, aided lay the structure for heart music. Charles would likewise apply his signature vocal shipment to every little thing from nation music to pop standards over the food of his five decade-long career, achieving global fame and also recognition. By the time of his passing the had come to be an American musical icon.

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Struck blind at the age of seven, Charles found his vocation together a rhythm and blues artist early in his life. For lot of his adult years Charles struggled through a heroin addiction, i beg your pardon he eventually overcame. His relationships through women were regularly exploitative; double married, he fathered 12 kids by 7 different women. Like most African-American musicians, Charles skilled racism and was sometimes criticized for not speaking out more. Yet with his groundbreaking artistry across musical genres Charles damaged down barriers of race and also prejudice and won worldwide acclaim. In a testimony come Charles" cross-racial appeal, his hit tune "Georgia on my Mind" was the called State track by Georgia"s state legislature in 1979.


Early years

Ray Charles Robinson to be born out-of-wedlock in Albany, Georgia to Bailey and Aretha Robinson. His household moved to the tiny Northern Florida hamlet the Greenville as soon as he was only a couple of months old. Ray’s dad was no a far-reaching part the his life together he worked and also had two more families, leaving Ray’s mother to progressive the family members with the assist of his father"s very first wife, mar Jane. Once Ray was five years old, his younger brother, George, that was about four, drown in an exterior tub. Ray saw him fall and tried to traction him out, but was unable to save him. Ray began going blind shortly after the traumatic event and was completely blind by the age of seven. The cause is generally thought to be undiagnosed glaucoma. He attended school at the Florida college for the Deaf and the remote in St. Augustine, as a state-sponsored charity case; he learned how to review Braille, as well as to create music and also play various musical instruments, focusing on the piano.

After that left school, Charles started working as a musician in Florida in numerous bands that played various formats of music consisting of jazz and country. ~ both the his parents passed away, he moved to Seattle, Washington in 1947 in ~ the age of 17, wherein he started to make a name for self in clubs, playing in the jazz-blues trio format. That was about this time that he began to walk by the name beam Charles to stop association and also confusion v boxer Sugar ray Robinson. He soon started recording, an initial for the Downbeat label (later known as Swingtime), afford his an initial hit songs through "Confession Blues" (1949) and also "Baby, allow Me hold Your Hand" (1951) prior to signing with Atlantic documents in 1952.

Middle years

With Atlantic Records, beam Charles discovered the perfect setting for his blossoming talent, and quickly started to reap the rewards. Charles score his very first Atlantic fight in 1953 v the relax of the Ahmet Ertegun-composed "Mess Around" single, and had an additional hit with his version of "It Should have Been Me," however his career went into high gear with 1955’s "I obtained a Woman." A seminal moment in the development of heart music, “I gained a Woman” was a rewording and also reworking that the gospel tune, “Jesus is every the human being to Me.” Charles followed it up through "This little Girl that Mine," also recorded in 1955, and also "Drown in My very own Tears," "Hallelujah ns Love she So," and "Lonely Avenue," in 1956, all huge hits top top the R&B charts. His style in this period defined early soul, revolving around gospel songs converted v secular lyrics, and blues ballads.

An essential paper of this phase of his job is the live album ray Charles In human being (originally titled What’d i Say, now obtainable bundled with Ray Charles in Newport as Ray Charles Live), tape-recorded from a concert held before a mainly African-American audience at Herndon stadion in Atlanta, Georgia on may 28, 1959. The album marked the an initial recorded figure of “What’d i Say,” Charles’ break-out crossover hit. “What’d ns Say” was a track originally created by spontaneous improvisation at the end of a late-1958 or early-1959 display when Charles had actually finished his scheduled set with twelve or so minutes to spare. Eventually, after gift re-recorded in new York and masterfully pared down from its epos ten-minute-plus length and split right into two components for release as a single, it would reach #6 on the Billboard pop Charts. The song’s applications of gospel-style call-and-response vocals to earthy, sensuous moaning is perhaps the best and most well-known instance of Charles’ edgy technique to mix sacred and secular music forms.

In 1959, Ray relocated from Atlantic records to ABC-Paramount, signing very favorable contract the afforded him a production deal, profit-sharing and eventual property of his masters. Ray had currently begun to show interest in do music past the borders of the blues-gospel synthetic while in ~ Atlantic Records. At ABC documents he was provided a good deal of regulate over his music, broadened his strategy to more straightforward popular music music, while maintaining his soulful R&B approach, leading to such hits as "Unchain mine Heart," "You space My Sunshine," and also the #1 hits on the Billboard popular music charts, "Georgia On mine Mind" and also "Hit the Road, Jack." In 1962, Charles surprised his new, broader audience v his landmark album modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, a groundbreaking combination of soul and also country music that visited #1 ~ above the album charts and included the number "I Can"t stop Loving You" (which itself visited #1 top top the singles chart) and also "You Don"t recognize Me."

In 1961, Charles canceled a concert scheduled to take location in the Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Georgia come protest against segregated seating. He wasn"t banned indigenous the state that Georgia as inaccurately claimed in the famous film Ray, though Charles did need to pay $800 compensation come the promoter.

Later years

In 1965, Charles to be arrested for possession of heroin, a drug to i m sorry he had been addicted for 17 years. It was his third arrest for the offense, yet he avoided prison time after ~ kicking the habit in a clinic in Los Angeles, California. He invested a year on parole in 1966.

After the 1960s, Charles" releases to be hit-or-miss, v some huge hits and critically acclaimed work, and some music that was dismissed together unoriginal and also staid. He focused largely top top live performances, back his version of "Georgia On mine Mind," a Hoagy Carmichael song originally written for a girl named Georgia, to be a hit and soon was proclaimed the state tune of Georgia on April 24, 1979, v Charles performing that on the floor that the state legislature. He also had success with his distinctive version that "America the Beautiful."

Film audiences enthusiastic for a spirit music and R&B resurgence, fueled in component by the music performances that comic front males John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the April 22, 1978, episode of Saturday Night Live, snapped up albums, greatly requested height 40 releases and also swelled package office take of summer 1980"s The Blues Brothers. In one of the film"s significant cameos, ray Charles theatre a remote music store owner and also offers a lively "Shake her Tailfeather."

Then in the late 1980s, a variety of events enhanced Charles" recognition among young audiences. In 1985, "Night Time is the right Time" was featured in the illustration "Happy Anniversary" that The Cosby Show. The actors members provided the track to perform a wildly popular lip-synch that aided the present secure its broad viewer-ship. In 1986, that performed his rendition the "America the Beautiful" in ~ WrestleMania 2. Charles" new connection through audiences helped secure a spokesman-ship for Diet Pepsi. In this very successful heralding campaign, Charles popularized the catchphrase "You acquired the best One, Baby!" as well, Charles do appearances ~ above "The at sight Dave Osbourne Show," wherein he performed and appeared in a few vignettes whereby he was somehow steering a car. In ~ the height of his newfound call in the early nineties, Charles did guest vocals for fairly a couple of projects. He likewise appeared (with Chaka Khan) on long time girlfriend Quincy Jones" fight "I"ll Be good To You" in 1990, indigenous Jones" album earlier on the Block.

Final performances

Charles performed his standard "Georgia On mine Mind" throughout the opened Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 2002 Charles headlined throughout the Cognac festival in southern France. In ~ one suggest in the power a young fan increased to his feet and began to sing an acappella variation of Charles" beforehand song, "Mess Around." Charles adored this present of respect and also bravery and decided to present this pan his admiration by playing the song.

One that Charles" critical public performances was in 2003 in ~ a televised annual electronic media reporter banquet hosted in Washington, D.C. That performed "Georgia On my Mind" and also "America the Beautiful." ray Charles" final public appearance came on April 30, 2004, at the dedication of his music studio as a historical landmark in the city that Los Angeles.

He died at period 73 top top June 10, 2004 (11:35 a.m.) that liver disease at his residence in Beverly Hills, California, surrounded by family and also friends. He was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

His last album, Genius Loves Company, released 2 months after his death, is composed of duets with various admirers and also contemporaries: B.B. King, van Morrison, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Gladys Knight, Michael McDonald, Natalie Cole, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Idina Menzel, and Johnny Mathis. The album winner eight Grammy Awards, including five for ray Charles for best Pop Vocal Album, Album that the Year, record of the Year and Best Pop collaboration with Vocals for "Here us Go Again" through Norah Jones, and also Best Gospel power for "Heaven help Us All" v Gladys Knight; he likewise received nods because that his duets through Elton John and B.B. King.

Ray biopic and legacy

Charles was significantly affiliated in the biopic Ray, an October 2004 movie which portrays his life and career in between 1930 and 1966 and also stars Jamie Foxx as Charles. Foxx winner the 2005 Academy compensation for best Actor for the role.

Before shooting can begin, however, director Taylor Hackford carried Foxx to accomplish Charles, that insisted the they sit down at two pianos and play together. For two hours, Charles challenged Foxx, that revealed the depth the his talent, and finally, Charles stood up, hugged Foxx, and gave his blessing, proclaiming, "He"s the one... He can do it."

Charles was able to attend a reflecting of the completed film, however he died before it opened up in theaters. The film"s credits note that that is made it through by 12 children, 21 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. Countless of today"s artists proceed to respect the heritage of Charles. The 2005 Grammy Awards were committed to him.

In august 2005, the United states Congress honored Charles by renaming the former West Adams Station article office in Los Angeles the "Ray Charles Station."

Controversies and also criticisms

Despite his assistance of boy name Luther King, Jr. In the 1960s and his assistance for the American Civil legal rights Movement, Charles courted debate when that toured south Africa in 1981 in breach that an global boycott that the country since of that apartheid policy.

A infamous ladies" man, Charles to be married twice and also fathered twelve youngsters by seven various women. His an initial marriage, to Eileen Williams top top July 31, 1951, resulted in one child and ended in divorce in 1952. Three added children are from his second marriage, top top April 5, 1955, come Della Beatrice Howard Robinson. She to be not among his initial Raelettes. Your marriage finished in divorce in 1977. In a 60 minutes profile, that admitted come Ed Bradley the he "auditioned" his mrs back-up singers. The speak was, "To it is in a Raelette, you"ve got to permit Ray."

From the time of his move from directly rhythm and also blues with a combo, Charles was frequently accused that musically "selling out." that left behind his classic formulation the rhythm and also blues come sing country music, popular music songs, and also soft-drink commercials. Yet in the process, the went from a niche audience to an international fame.

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Halls the Fame and Other Honors

In addition to to win dozens the Grammy Awards in his career, Charles additionally received countless other honors. In 1976, he came to be one the the very first honorees that the Georgia Music hall of Fame, who known him as a musician born in the state, a complete three years before his variation of "Georgia On mine Mind" was made into the main state song. In 1981, the was offered a star top top the Hollywood go of Fame and was among the an initial inductees come the absent & role Hall the Fame at its inaugural ceremony in 1986. In 1991, he was inducted come the rhythm & Blues Foundation, and also in 2004 he was inducted to the Jazz room of Fame.