Ray Charles
Overview
Ray Charles Robinson known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

 during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

, gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

, and blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

 styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

. He also helped racially integrate country
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 and pop music
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

 during the 1960s with his crossover
Crossover (music)
Crossover is a term applied to musical works or performers appearing on two or more of the record charts which track differing musical tastes, or genres...

 success on ABC Records
ABC Records
ABC Records was an American record label, founded in New York City in 1955 as ABC-Paramount Records. It originated as the main popular music label operated the Am-Par Record Corporation, the music subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Company . ABC-Paramount Records' first president was Samuel H....

, most notably with his Modern Sounds
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music is a studio album by American R&B and soul musician Ray Charles, released in April 1962 on ABC-Paramount Records. Recording sessions for the album took place in early to mid-February 1962 at Capitol Studios in New York City and at United Recording Studios...

albums. While with ABC, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company.
Quotations

I got a woman way over town, That's good to me, Oh yeah!

"I Got a Woman" (1955)

Tell your Mama Tell your Pa Gonna send you back to Arkansas

"What'd I Say" (1957)

Hit the road, Jack, and don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more.

"Hit the Road, Jack" (1961)

Music has been around a long time, and there's going to be music long after Ray Charles is dead. I just want to make my mark, leave something musically good behind. If it's a big record, that's the frosting on the cake, but music's the main meal.

As quoted "Words of the Week" in Jet magazine, Vol. 64, No. 6 (25 April 1983), p. 40

The fact of the matter is, you don't give up what's natural. Anything I've fantasized about, I've done.

Los Angeles Times, (1989)

I started to sing like myself — as opposed to imitating Nat King Cole|Nat Cole, which I had done for a while — when I started singing like Ray Charles, it had this spiritual and churchy, this religious or gospel sound. It had this holiness and preachy tone to it. It was very controversial. I got a lot of criticism for it.

San Jose Mercury News, (1994)

Do it right or don't do it at all. That comes from my mom. If there's something I want to do, I'm one of those people that won't be satisfied until I get it done. If I'm trying to sing something and I can't get it, I'm going to keep at it until I get where I want it.

Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (1998)

Before I begin, let me say right here and now that I'm a country boy. And, man, I mean the real backwoods! That's at the start of the start of the thing, and that's at the heart of the thing.

Home, p. 1

Encyclopedia
Ray Charles Robinson known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

 during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

, gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

, and blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

 styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

. He also helped racially integrate country
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 and pop music
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

 during the 1960s with his crossover
Crossover (music)
Crossover is a term applied to musical works or performers appearing on two or more of the record charts which track differing musical tastes, or genres...

 success on ABC Records
ABC Records
ABC Records was an American record label, founded in New York City in 1955 as ABC-Paramount Records. It originated as the main popular music label operated the Am-Par Record Corporation, the music subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Company . ABC-Paramount Records' first president was Samuel H....

, most notably with his Modern Sounds
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music is a studio album by American R&B and soul musician Ray Charles, released in April 1962 on ABC-Paramount Records. Recording sessions for the album took place in early to mid-February 1962 at Capitol Studios in New York City and at United Recording Studios...

albums. While with ABC, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company. Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

 called Charles “the only true genius in show business.”

The influences upon his music were mainly jazz, blues, rhythm and blues and country artists of the day such as Art Tatum
Art Tatum
Arthur "Art" Tatum, Jr. was an American jazz pianist and virtuoso who played with phenomenal facility despite being nearly blind.Tatum is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time...

, Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole
Nathaniel Adams Coles , known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. Although an accomplished pianist, he owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres...

, Louis Jordan
Louis Jordan
Louis Thomas Jordan was a pioneering American jazz, blues and rhythm & blues musician, songwriter and bandleader who enjoyed his greatest popularity from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Known as "The King of the Jukebox", Jordan was highly popular with both black and white audiences in the...

, Charles Brown
Charles Brown (musician)
Charles Brown , born in Texas City, Texas was an American blues singer and pianist whose soft-toned, slow-paced blues-club style influenced the development of blues performance during the 1940s and 1950s...

, Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong , nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana....

. His playing reflected influences from country blues
Country blues
Country blues is a general term that refers to all the acoustic, mainly guitar-driven forms of the blues. It often incorporated elements of rural gospel, ragtime, hillbilly, and dixieland jazz...

 and barrelhouse
Juke joint
Juke joint is the vernacular term for an informal establishment featuring music, dancing, gambling, and drinking, primarily operated by African American people in the southeastern United States. The term "juke" is believed to derive from the Gullah word joog, meaning rowdy or disorderly...

, and stride
Stride piano
Harlem Stride Piano, Stride Piano, or just Stride, is a jazz piano style that was developed in the large cities of the East Coast, mainly in the New York, during 1920s and 1930s. The left hand may play a four-beat pulse with a single bass note, octave, seventh or tenth interval on the first and...

 piano styles.

Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

ranked Charles number 10 on their list of "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" in 2004, and number two on their November 2008 list of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time". In honoring Charles, Billy Joel
Billy Joel
William Martin "Billy" Joel is an American musician and pianist, singer-songwriter, and classical composer. Since releasing his first hit song, "Piano Man", in 1973, Joel has become the sixth best-selling recording artist and the third best-selling solo artist in the United States, according to...

 noted: "This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

. I don't know if Ray was the architect of rock & roll, but he was certainly the first guy to do a lot of things . . . Who the hell ever put so many styles together and made it work?"

Early life: 1930–1945

Ray Charles Robinson was the son of Aretha Williams, a sharecropper
Sharecropping
Sharecropping is a system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land . This should not be confused with a crop fixed rent contract, in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a fixed amount of...

, and Bailey Robinson, a railroad repair man, mechanic and handyman. Aretha Williams was a devout Christian and the family attended the New Shiloh Baptist Church. When Ray was an infant, his family moved from Albany, Georgia
Albany, Georgia
Albany is a city in and the county seat of Dougherty County, Georgia, United States, in the southwestern part of the state. It is the principal city of the Albany, Georgia metropolitan area and the southwest part of the state. The population was 77,434 at the 2010 U.S. Census, making it the...

, where he was born, to the poor black community on the western side of Greenville, Florida
Greenville, Florida
Greenville is a town in Madison County, Florida, United States. The population was 837 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 832 .-Geography:Greenville is located at ....

.
In his early years, Charles showed a curiosity for mechanical things and he often watched the neighborhood men working on their cars and farm machinery. His musical curiosity was sparked at Mr. Wiley Pit's Red Wing Cafe when Pit played boogie woogie on an old upright piano. Pit would care for George, Ray's brother, so as to take the burden off Williams. However, George drowned in the Williams' wash tub when he was four years old. After witnessing the death of his brother, Ray would feel an overwhelming sense of guilt later on in life.

Charles started to lose his sight at the age of five. He went completely blind by the age of seven, apparently due to glaucoma
Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye disorder in which the optic nerve suffers damage, permanently damaging vision in the affected eye and progressing to complete blindness if untreated. It is often, but not always, associated with increased pressure of the fluid in the eye...

. He attended school at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

 from 1937 to 1945, where he developed his musical talent. During this time he performed on WFOY
WFOY
WFOY is the oldest station in the United States's oldest city—St. Augustine, Florida. It signed on at 15:45 on the afternoon of Thursday, February 11, 1937 on 1210 kilocycles at a power of 100 watts, despite claims that the station started July 7, 1936 .-History:WFOY was originally owned by the...

 radio in St. Augustine. His father died when he was 10 and his mother died five years after.

In school, Charles was taught only classical music, but he wanted to play the jazz and blues he heard on the family radio. While at school, he became the school's premier musician. On Fridays, the South Campus Literary Society held assemblies where Charles would play piano and sing popular songs. On Halloween and Washington's birthday, the Colored Department of the school had socials where Charles would play. It was here he established "RC Robinson and the Shop Boys" and sang his own arrangement of "Jingle Bell Boogie." He spent his first Christmas at the school, but later the staff pitched in so that Charles could return to Greenville, as he did each summer.

Henry and Alice Johnson, who owned a store not unlike Mr. Pit's store in Greenville, moved to the Frenchtown
Frenchtown (Tallahassee)
Frenchtown is an historical section of Tallahassee, Florida, United States-Origin:Frenchtown originated from 19th century settlers who moved to the area from France. Their relocation was prompted by the July 4, 1825 Lafayette Land Grant which gave Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette a township...

 section of Tallahassee
Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee is the capital of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Leon County, and is the 128th largest city in the United States. Tallahassee became the capital of Florida, then the Florida Territory, in 1824. In 2010, the population recorded by...

, just west of Greenville; and they, as well as Freddy and Margaret Bryant, took Charles in. He worked the register in the Bryants' store under the direction of Lucille Bryant, their daughter. It's said he loved Tallahassee and often used the drug store delivery boy's motorbike to run up and down hills using the exhaust sound of a friend's bike to guide him. Charles found Tallahassee musically exciting too and sat in with the Florida A&M University
Florida A&M University
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, commonly known as Florida A&M or FAMU, is a historically black university located in Tallahassee, Florida, United States, the state capital, and is one of eleven member institutions of the State University System of Florida...

 student band. He played with the Adderley brothers, Nat
Nat Adderley
Nathaniel Adderley was an American jazz cornet and trumpet player who played in the hard bop and soul jazz genres. He was the brother of saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley....

 and Cannonball, and began playing gigs with Lawyer Smith and his Band in 1943 at the Red Bird Club and DeLuxe Clubs in Frenchtown and roadhouse
Receiving house
A receiving house is a theatre which does not produce its own repertoire but instead receives touring theatre companies, usually for a brief period such as three nights or a full week...

 theatres around Tallahassee, as well as the Governor's Ball.

Early career: 1945–1952

After his mother died in 1945, Charles was 15 years old and didn't return to school. He lived in Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida in terms of both population and land area, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968...

 with a couple who were friends of his mother. For over a year, he played the piano for bands at the Ritz Theatre
Ritz Theatre (Jacksonville)
The Ritz Theatre is an African-American oriented theatre in the LaVilla neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida. The theater, which seats 426, is used for a variety of music, dance and theatrical productions, as well as movies. The spacious lobby is also used for private functions. Just off the lobby...

 in LaVilla
LaVilla, Jacksonville, Florida
LaVilla is a neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida and former independent city, located just west of downtown. Jacksonville's first suburb, it was annexed by the city in 1887. It is primarily an African-American neighborhood, and its northern section was considered "the mecca for African American...

, earning $4 a night. Then he moved to Orlando
Orlando, Florida
Orlando is a city in the central region of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Orange County, and the center of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. According to the 2010 US Census, the city had a population of 238,300, making Orlando the 79th largest city in the United States...

, and later Tampa
Tâmpa
Tâmpa may refer to several villages in Romania:* Tâmpa, a village in Băcia Commune, Hunedoara County* Tâmpa, a village in Miercurea Nirajului, Mureş County* Tâmpa, a mountain in Braşov city...

, where he played with a southern
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 band called The Florida Playboys. This is where he began his habit of always wearing sunglasses, made by designer Billy Stickles.

Charles had always played for other people, but he wanted his own band. He decided to leave Florida for a large city, but Chicago and New York City were too big. After asking a friend to look in a map and note the city in the United States that was farthest from Florida, he moved to Seattle in 1947 (where he first met and befriended a 14 year old Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr. is an American record producer and musician. A conductor, musical arranger, film composer, television producer, and trumpeter. His career spans five decades in the entertainment industry and a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend...

) and soon started recording, first for the Down Beat label as the Maxin Trio with guitarist G.D. McKee and bassist Milton Garrett, achieving his first hit with "Confession Blues" in 1949. The song soared to No. 2 on the R&B charts. He joined Swing Time Records
Swing Time Records
Swing Time Records was a United States based record label, active in the 1940s. The label was founded by Jack Lauderdale in 1947 and was headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Swing Time went bankrupt in 1953....

 and under his own name ("Ray Charles" to avoid being confused with boxer
Boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

 Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson was an African-American professional boxer. Frequently cited as the greatest boxer of all time, Robinson's performances in the welterweight and middleweight divisions prompted sportswriters to create "pound for pound" rankings, where they compared fighters regardless of weight...

) recorded two more R&B hits, "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" (No. 5) in 1951 and "Kissa Me Baby" (No. 8) in 1952. The following year, Swing Time folded and Ahmet Ertegün
Ahmet Ertegun
Ahmet Ertegün was a Turkish American musician and businessman, best known as the founder and president of Atlantic Records. He also wrote classic blues and pop songs and served as Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and museum...

 signed him to Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

.

Atlantic Records: 1953–1959

Almost immediately after signing with Atlantic, Charles scored his first hit single. "Mess Around
Mess Around
"Mess Around", written by Atlantic Records president and founder Ahmet Ertegün using the pseudonym of "A. Nugetre", or "Nuggy" on record labels, was one of Ray Charles’ first hits...

" was an R&B hit in 1953. "It Should Have Been Me
It Should Have Been Me
It Should've Been Me is a 1954 rhythm and blues song written by Memphis Curtis, produced by Ahmet Ertegun and recorded and released as a single by American singer Ray Charles....

" and "Don't You Know" both made the charts in 1954, but "I Got a Woman
I Got a Woman
"I Got a Woman" is a song co-written and recorded by American R&B/soul musician Ray Charles and released as a single in December 1954 on the Atlantic label as Atlantic 45-1050 b/w "Come Back Baby." Both sides later appeared on his 1957 album Ray Charles .-Origin:The song builds on...

" (composed with band mate Renald Richard) brought him to national prominence.

The song reached the top of Billboard
Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

's R&B singles chart in 1955 and from there until 1959 he would have a series of R&B successes including "A Fool For You" (No. 1), "This Little Girl of Mine
This Little Girl of Mine
"This Little Girl of Mine" is a rhythm and blues single written and released as a single by Ray Charles in 1956 on the Atlantic label.Much like the previous "I Got a Woman" and the later "Hallelujah I Love Her So", "This Little Girl of Mine" played off a classic gospel-based hymn...

", "Lonely Avenue
Lonely Avenue
"Lonely Avenue" is a popular song written by Doc Pomus that became a rhythm and blues hit for Ray Charles in 1956. The song drew the attention of the music business to Doc Pomus, who had previously had little success as a songwriter.-Covers:...

", "Mary Ann", "Drown in My Own Tears
Drown in My Own Tears
"Drown in My Own Tears" is a 1956 Blues single, written by Henry Glover and released by the singers Ray Charles & Dinah Washington on the Atlantic & EmArcy record labels respectively....

" (No. 1) and the No. 5 hit "The Night Time (Is the Right Time)", which were compiled on his Atlantic releases Hallelujah, I Love Her So
Ray Charles (or, Hallelujah I Love Her So)
Ray Charles is Ray Charles' 1957 debut album for Atlantic Records. It was re-released as Hallelujah I Love Her So in 1962.-Track listing:All songs written by Ray Charles except as indicated.#"Ain't That Love" – 2:51...

, Yes Indeed!
Yes Indeed!
Yes Indeed!! is a R&B/soul album by Ray Charles, released in 1958 by Atlantic. It was the second of three Atlantic LPs that compiled Charles' hit singles for the label...

, and The Genius Sings the Blues
The Genius Sings the Blues
The Genius Sings the Blues is an album by Ray Charles, released in October 1961 on Atlantic Records. The album was his last release for Atlantic, but one of his most memorable, compiling twelve blues songs from various sessions during his tenure for the label. The album showcases Charles's...

.

During this time of transition, he recruited a young girl group from Philadelphia, The Cookies
The Cookies
The Cookies were an American R&B girl group in the 1950s to 1960s. Members of the original lineup would later become The Raelettes, the backing vocalists for Ray Charles.-History:...

, as his background singing group, recording with them in New York and changing their name to the Raelettes
Raelettes
The Raelettes were a girl group in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, formed, as their name suggests, to provide backing vocals for Ray Charles.Its membership originally consisted of Darlene McCrea, Margie Hendricks, Patricia Lyles, and Gwendolyn Berry...

 in the process.

Crossover success: 1959–1967

After his Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

 contract had ended, Ray Charles signed with ABC-Paramount Records
ABC Records
ABC Records was an American record label, founded in New York City in 1955 as ABC-Paramount Records. It originated as the main popular music label operated the Am-Par Record Corporation, the music subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Company . ABC-Paramount Records' first president was Samuel H....

 in November 1959, obtaining a much more liberal contract than other artists had at the time. Following his commercial and pop
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

 crossover
Crossover (music)
Crossover is a term applied to musical works or performers appearing on two or more of the record charts which track differing musical tastes, or genres...

 breakthrough with the complex hit single "What'd I Say" earlier that year, ABC offered Charles a $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

 50,000 annual advance, higher royalties
Royalties
Royalties are usage-based payments made by one party to another for the right to ongoing use of an asset, sometimes an intellectual property...

 than previously offered and eventual ownership of his masters — a very valuable and lucrative deal at the time. Composed by Charles himself, the single furthered Charles's mainstream
Mainstream
Mainstream is, generally, the common current thought of the majority. However, the mainstream is far from cohesive; rather the concept is often considered a cultural construct....

 appeal, while becoming a Top 10 pop hit and selling a million copies in the United States, despite the ban placed on the record by some radio stations, in response to the song's sexually-suggestive lyrics. However, by the time of the release of the instrumental jazz LP Genius + Soul = Jazz
Genius + Soul = Jazz
Genius + Soul = Jazz is a 1961 album by Ray Charles.Featuring arrangements by Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns, Charles is accompanied by members of The Count Basie Band...

(1960) for ABC's subsidiary label Impulse!
Impulse! Records
Impulse! Records was an American jazz record label, originally established in 1960 by producer Creed Taylor as a subsidiary of ABC-Paramount Records, based in New York City...

, Charles had virtually given up on writing original material and had begun to follow his eclectic impulses as an interpreter.

With his first hit single for ABC-Paramount, Charles received national acclaim and a Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

 for the Sid Feller
Sid Feller
Sidney "Sid" Feller was an American conductor and arranger, best known for his work with Ray Charles. He worked with Charles on hundreds of songs including Georgia on My Mind and worked as Charles' conductor while on tour...

-produced "Georgia on My Mind
Georgia on My Mind
"Georgia on My Mind" is a song written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell . It is the official state song of the U.S. state of Georgia. Gorrell wrote the lyrics for Hoagy's sister, Georgia Carmichael. However, the lyrics of the song are ambiguous enough to refer either to the state or...

", originally written by composers Stuart Gorrell
Stuart Gorrell
Stuart Graham Steven Gorrell is best known for writing the lyrics for the song Georgia on My Mind.Gorrell attended Indiana University; there he became friends with fellow student Hoagy Carmichael...

 and Hoagy Carmichael
Hoagy Carmichael
Howard Hoagland "Hoagy" Carmichael was an American composer, pianist, singer, actor, and bandleader. He is best known for writing "Stardust", "Georgia On My Mind", "The Nearness of You", and "Heart and Soul", four of the most-recorded American songs of all time.Alec Wilder, in his study of the...

, released as a single by Charles in 1960. The song served as Charles's first work with Feller, who arranged and conducted the recording. Charles also earned another Grammy for the follow-up "Hit the Road Jack
Hit the Road Jack
"Hit the Road Jack" is a song written by rhythm and bluesman Percy Mayfield and first recorded in 1960 as an a capella demo sent to Art Rupe, available on the Memory Pain CD vol. 2, Specialty Records SPCD-7027-2. It became famous after it was recorded by singer-pianist Ray Charles. It hit number...

", written by R&B singer Percy Mayfield
Percy Mayfield
Percy Mayfield was an American songwriter famous for the songs "Hit the Road Jack" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love", as well as a successful rhythm and blues artist known for his smooth vocal style.-Career:...

. By late 1961, Charles had expanded his small road ensemble
Musical ensemble
A musical ensemble is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles...

 to a full-scale big band
Big band
A big band is a type of musical ensemble associated with jazz and the Swing Era typically consisting of rhythm, brass, and woodwind instruments totaling approximately twelve to twenty-five musicians...

, partly as a response to increasing royalties and touring fees, becoming one of the few black artists to crossover into mainstream pop with such a level of creative control. This success, however, came to a momentary halt in November 1961, as a police search of Charles's hotel room in Indianapolis, Indiana during a concert tour led to the discovery of heroin in his medicine cabinet. The case was eventually dropped, as the search lacked a proper warrant
Warrant (law)
Most often, the term warrant refers to a specific type of authorization; a writ issued by a competent officer, usually a judge or magistrate, which permits an otherwise illegal act that would violate individual rights and affords the person executing the writ protection from damages if the act is...

 by the police, and Charles soon returned his focus on music and recording.

The 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music is a studio album by American R&B and soul musician Ray Charles, released in April 1962 on ABC-Paramount Records. Recording sessions for the album took place in early to mid-February 1962 at Capitol Studios in New York City and at United Recording Studios...

and its sequel Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 2
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Volume Two
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Volume Two is a 1962 album by Ray Charles. It is the second volume of country and western recordings by Charles following his landmark debut on ABC Records...

, helped to bring country
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 into the mainstream of music. His version of the Don Gibson song, I Can't Stop Loving You
I Can't Stop Loving You
"I Can't Stop Loving You" is a popular song written and composed by country singer, songwriter and musician Don Gibson, who first recorded it on December 30, 1957, for RCA Victor Records...

topped the Pop chart for five weeks and stayed at No. 1 R&B for ten weeks in 1962. It also gave him his only number one record in the UK. In 1962, he founded his own record label, Tangerine Records
Tangerine Records (1963)
Tangerine Records was a record label owned by Ray Charles between 1962 and 1973. In 1962, he founded his own record label, Tangerine Records which ABC-Paramount Records promoted and distributed. In 1973 Charles left ABC and he closed Tangerine and started Crossover records. Early singles labels...

 which ABC-Paramount promoted and distributed. He also had major pop hits in 1963 with "Busted
Busted (Harlan Howard song)
-Cover versions:* Johnny Cash, with the Carter Family, reached #13 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in 1963.* Ray Charles reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1963. This was from his album Ingredients in a Recipe for Soul...

" (US No. 4) and Take These Chains From My Heart
Take These Chains from My Heart
"Take These Chains from My Heart" is a 1953 single by Hank Williams with His Drifting Cowboys, written by Fred Rose and Hy Heath. The song was the last of Hank Williams' country number-one hits. The song reached Number One on the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart.Cover versions of...

(US No. 8), and a Top 20 hit four years later, in 1967, with "Here We Go Again
Here We Go Again (Ray Charles song)
"Here We Go Again" is a country music standard written by Don Lanier and Red Steagall that first became notable as a rhythm and blues single by Ray Charles from his 1967 album Ray Charles Invites You to Listen. Its most notable cover version is the rhythm and blues music duet by Charles and Norah...

" (US No. 15) (which would be a duet with Norah Jones
Norah Jones
Norah Jones is an American singer-songwriter and occasional actress.In 2002, she launched her solo music career with the release of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album Come Away With Me, which was certified a diamond album in 2002, selling over 20 million copies...

 in 2004).

Later years: 1965-2004

In 1965, Ray Charles was arrested for possession of heroin, a drug to which he had been addicted for nearly 20 years. It was his third arrest for the offense, but he avoided jail
Jail
A jail is a short-term detention facility in the United States and Canada.Jail may also refer to:In entertainment:*Jail , a 1966 Malayalam movie*Jail , a 2009 Bollywood movie...

 time after kicking the habit in a clinic in Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

. He spent a year on parole
Parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

 in 1966, when his single "Crying Time
Crying Time
"Crying Time" is a song from 1964 written by country music artist Buck Owens.Owens recorded a version of his song, but it failed to reach the music charts. A cover version of "Crying Time" was then recorded by R&B singer Ray Charles, and his version proved to be a hit...

" reached No. 6 on the charts.

During the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Charles's releases were hit-or-miss, with some big hits and critically acclaimed work. His version of "Georgia On My Mind
Georgia on My Mind
"Georgia on My Mind" is a song written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell . It is the official state song of the U.S. state of Georgia. Gorrell wrote the lyrics for Hoagy's sister, Georgia Carmichael. However, the lyrics of the song are ambiguous enough to refer either to the state or...

" was proclaimed the state song of Georgia on April 24, 1979, and he performed it on the floor of the state legislature
Georgia General Assembly
The Georgia General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is bicameral, being composed of the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia Senate....

. He also had success with his unique version of "America the Beautiful
America the Beautiful
"America the Beautiful" is an American patriotic song. The lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates and the music composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward....

".

In November 1977 he appeared as the host of NBC's Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

. In the 1980s a number of other events increased Charles's recognition among young audiences. He made a cameo appearance in the popular 1980 film The Blues Brothers
The Blues Brothers (film)
The Blues Brothers is a 1980 musical comedy film directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as "Joliet" Jake and Elwood Blues, characters developed from a musical sketch on the NBC variety series Saturday Night Live. It features musical numbers by R&B and soul singers James...

. In 1985, "The Right Time" was featured in the episode "Happy Anniversary" of The Cosby Show
The Cosby Show
The Cosby Show is an American television situation comedy starring Bill Cosby, which aired for eight seasons on NBC from September 20, 1984 until April 30, 1992...

on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

. The next year, he sang America The Beautiful
America the Beautiful
"America the Beautiful" is an American patriotic song. The lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates and the music composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward....

 at Wrestlemania 2
WrestleMania 2
WrestleMania 2 was the second annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by the World Wrestling Federation...

. In a Pepsi Cola commercial of the early 1990s – composed by Kenny Ascher, Joseph C. Caro, and Helary Jay Lipsitz – Charles popularized the catchphrase "You Got the Right One, Baby
You Got the Right One, Baby
"You Got the Right One, Baby, Uh Huh" was a popular slogan for Pepsico's Diet Pepsi brand in the United States and Canada from 1990 to 1993. A series of television ads featured singer Ray Charles, surrounded by models, singing a song about Diet Pepsi, entitled "You Got the Right One Baby, Uh Huh"...

!" and he was featured in the recording of "We Are the World
We Are the World
"We Are the World" is a song and charity single originally recorded by the supergroup USA for Africa in 1985. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World...

" for USA for Africa
USA for Africa
USA for Africa was the name under which forty-seven predominantly U.S. artists, led by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, recorded the hit single "We Are the World" in 1985. The song was a US and UK Number One for the collective in April of that year...

.

After having supported Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 and for the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Charles courted controversy when he toured South Africa in 1981, during an international boycott of the country because of its apartheid policy.
In 1989, Charles recorded a cover version of the Japanese band Southern All Stars
Southern All Stars
, also known by the abbreviations or SAS, is a Japanese pop/rock band that formed in the mid 1970s.The band is composed of Keisuke Kuwata , Yuko Hara , Kazuyuki Sekiguchi , Hiroshi Matsuda and Hideyuki "Kegani" Nozawa...

' song "Itoshi no Ellie" as "Ellie My Love" for a Suntory
Suntory
is a Japanese brewing and distilling company group. Established in 1899, it is one of the oldest companies in the distribution of alcoholic beverages in Japan. Its business has expanded to other fields, and the company now offers everything from soft drinks to sandwich chains...

 TV advertisement, reaching No. 3 on Japan's Oricon
Oricon
, established in 1999, is the holding company at the head of a Japanese corporate group that supplies statistics and information on music and the music industry in Japan. It started as , which was founded by Sōkō Koike in November 1967 and became known for its music charts. Oricon Inc...

 chart. Eventually, it sold more than 400,000 copies, and became that year's best-selling single performed by a Western artist for the Japanese music market.

Charles also appeared at two Presidential inaugurations in his lifetime. In 1985, he performed for Ronald Reagan's second inauguration, and in 1993 for Bill Clinton's first.

In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Charles made appearances on the Super Dave Osbourne TV show
Super Dave (TV series)
Super Dave is a Canadian/American variety show starring and hosted by the fictional character Super Dave Osborne . It ran from 1987 to 1991 on Showtime in the US and the Global Television Network in Canada...

, where he performed and appeared in a few vignettes where he was somehow driving a car, often as Super Dave's chauffeur. At the height of his newfound fame in the early nineties, Charles did guest vocals for several projects. He also appeared (with Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan , frequently known as the Queen of Funk, is a 10-time Grammy Award winning American singer-songwriter who gained fame in the 1970s as the frontwoman and focal point of the funk band Rufus. While still a member of the group in 1978, Khan embarked on a successful solo career...

) on long time friend Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr. is an American record producer and musician. A conductor, musical arranger, film composer, television producer, and trumpeter. His career spans five decades in the entertainment industry and a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend...

' hit "I'll Be Good to You
I'll Be Good to You
"I'll Be Good to You" is a 1976 hit song by R&B duo The Brothers Johnson. George Johnson, one of the two Johnson brothers in the band, wrote the song after deciding to commit to a relationship with one woman, instead of dating several at a time. While George was recording a demo for the song,...

" in 1990, from Jones's album Back on the Block
Back on the Block
Back on the Block is a 1989 studio album produced by Quincy Jones. It features many famous and important musicians and singers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Joe Zawinul, Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, Barry White,...

. Following Jim Henson
Jim Henson
James Maury "Jim" Henson was an American puppeteer best known as the creator of The Muppets. As a puppeteer, Henson performed in various television programs, such as Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, films such as The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, and created advanced puppets for...

's death in 1990, Ray Charles appeared in the one-hour CBS tribute, The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson. He gave a short speech about Henson, stating that he "took a simple song and a piece of felt and turned it into a moment of great power". Charles was referring to the song "It's Not Easy Being Green", which he later performed with the rest of the Muppet cast in a tribute to Henson's legacy.

During the sixth season of Designing Women
Designing Women
Designing Women is an American television sitcom that centered on the working and personal lives of four Southern women and one man in an interior design firm in Atlanta, Georgia. It aired on the CBS television network from September 29, 1986 until May 24, 1993. The show was created by head writer...

, Charles sang "Georgia on My Mind
Georgia on My Mind
"Georgia on My Mind" is a song written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell . It is the official state song of the U.S. state of Georgia. Gorrell wrote the lyrics for Hoagy's sister, Georgia Carmichael. However, the lyrics of the song are ambiguous enough to refer either to the state or...

", instead of the song being rendered instrumentally by other musicians as in the previous five seasons. He also appeared in 4 episodes of the popular TV comedy The Nanny
The Nanny
Nanny may refer to:* Nanny, a child's caregiver* A grandmother * A Cajun word for godmother * A female goat* Nanny , a 1981–83 British drama series starring Wendy Craig* Nanny of the Maroons...

in Seasons 4 & 5 (1997 & 1998) as 'Sammy', in one episode singing "My Yiddish Mamma" to December romance and later fiancee of character Gramma Yetta, played by veteran actress Ann Guilbert.

From 2001-2002, Charles appeared in commercials for the New Jersey Lottery
New Jersey Lottery
The New Jersey Lottery is run by the government of New Jersey. Its games consist of Powerball, Mega Millions, Pick-6, Jersey Cash 5, Pick-4, Pick-3, and scratch tickets. The Lottery is headquartered in the One Lawrence Park Complex in Lawrence Township, Mercer County.New Jersey Lottery players must...

 to promote its "For every dream, there's a jackpot" campaign.

In 2003, Ray Charles headlined the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington, D.C. where the President, First Lady, Colin Powell
Colin Powell
Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position. During his military...

 and Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

 attended. He also presented one of his greatest admirers, Van Morrison
Van Morrison
Van Morrison, OBE is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician. His live performances at their best are regarded as transcendental and inspired; while some of his recordings, such as the studio albums Astral Weeks and Moondance, and the live album It's Too Late to Stop Now, are widely...

, with his award upon being inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame
Songwriters Hall of Fame
The Songwriters Hall of Fame is an arm of the National Academy of Popular Music. It was founded in 1969 by songwriter Johnny Mercer and music publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond. The goal is to create a museum but as of April, 2008, the means do not yet exist and so instead it is an online...

 and the two sang Morrison's song "Crazy Love". This performance appears on Morrison's 2007 album, The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3
The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3
The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3 is a compilation album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, that was released on June 11, 2007 in the UK with a digital version released in the U.S. on iTunes Music Store, on June 12, 2007. Manhattan/EMI Music Catalog Marketing released the CD...

.

In 2003 Charles performed "Georgia On My Mind" and "America the Beautiful" at a televised annual electronic media journalist banquet held in Washington, D.C., at what may have been his final performance in public. His final public appearance came on April 30, 2004, at the dedication of his music studio
Studio
A studio is an artist's or worker's workroom, or the catchall term for an artist and his or her employees who work within that studio. This can be for the purpose of architecture, painting, pottery , sculpture, scrapbooking, photography, graphic design, filmmaking, animation, radio or television...

 as a historic landmark
Landmark
This is a list of landmarks around the world.Landmarks may be split into two categories - natural phenomena and man-made features, like buildings, bridges, statues, public squares and so forth...

 in the city of Los Angeles.

Family

Charles was married twice and fathered 12 children with nine different women. His first marriage to Eileen Williams was brief: July 31, 1951 to 1952. He had three children from his second marriage, to Della Beatrice Howard Robinson from April 5, 1955 to 1977. His long term girlfriend and partner at the time of his death was Norma Pinella.

A list of his children:
  • Born ~ 1950: Evelyn Robinson (to Louise Mitchell)
  • Born ~ 1955: Ray Charles Robinson, Jr. (to Della Robinson)
  • Born ~ 1958: David Robinson (to Della Robinson)
  • Born ~ 1959: Charles Wayne Robinson (to Margie Hendricks)
  • Born ~ 1960: Reverend Robert Robinson (to Della Robinson)
  • Born ~ 1961: Raenee Robinson (to Mae Mosely Lyles)
  • Born ~ 1963: Sheila Raye Charles Robinson (to Sandra Jean Betts)
  • Born ~ 1966: Alicia Robinson (unknown)
  • Born ~ 1968: Alexandra Robinson (to Chantal Bertrand)
  • Born ~ 1977: Vincent Robinson (to Arlette Kotchounian)
  • Born ~ 1978: Robyn Robinson (to Gloria Moffett)
  • Born ~ 1987: Ryan Corey Robinson (to Mary Anne den Bok)


Charles gave 10 of his 12 children checks for one million USD in December 2002 at a family luncheon, while the other two could not make it.

Substance abuse and legal issues

On November 14, 1961, Charles was arrested on a narcotics charge in an Indiana hotel room, where he waited to perform. The detectives seized heroin, marijuana, and other items. Charles, then 31, stated that he had been a drug addict since the age of 16. While the case was dismissed because of the manner in which the evidence was obtained, Charles's situation did not improve until a few years later. Individuals such as Quincy Jones and Reverend Henry Griffin felt that those around Charles were responsible for his drug use.

By 1964 Charles's drug addiction caught up with him and he was arrested for possession of marijuana and heroin. Following a self-imposed stay at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, California, Charles received five years' probation. Charles responded to the saga of his drug use and reform with the songs "I Don't Need No Doctor", "Let's Go Get Stoned", and the release of his first album since having kicked his heroin addiction in 1966, Crying Time.

Other interests

Charles played chess using a special board with holes for the pieces and raised squares. Charles referred to Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...

 as "my chess partner" in a 1991 concert. In 2002, he played and lost to American Grandmaster and former U.S. Champion Larry Evans
Larry Evans
For the football player of the same name, see Larry Evans .Larry Melvyn Evans was an American chess grandmaster, author, and journalist. He won or shared the U.S. Chess Championship five times and the U.S. Open Chess Championship four times...

.

Death

Charles died on June 10, 2004 at 11:35 a.m. of lung cancer
Lung cancer
Lung cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung in a process called metastasis into nearby tissue and, eventually, into other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in lung, known as primary...

 at his home in Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills is an affluent city located in Los Angeles County, California, United States. With a population of 34,109 at the 2010 census, up from 33,784 as of the 2000 census, it is home to numerous Hollywood celebrities. Beverly Hills and the neighboring city of West Hollywood are together...

, surrounded by family and friends. He was 73 years old. His body was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery
Inglewood Park Cemetery
Inglewood Park Cemetery was founded in 1905 in Inglewood, California. A number of notable people, including entertainment and sports personalities, have been interred or entombed here.-List of notable and celebrity interments at Inglewood Park:...

.
His final album, Genius Loves Company
Genius Loves Company
Genius Loves Company is the final studio album by rhythm and blues and soul musician Ray Charles, posthumously released August 31, 2004 on Concord Records. Recording sessions for the album took place between June 2003 and March 2004...

, released two months after his death, consists of duets with various admirers and contemporaries: B.B. King, Van Morrison
Van Morrison
Van Morrison, OBE is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician. His live performances at their best are regarded as transcendental and inspired; while some of his recordings, such as the studio albums Astral Weeks and Moondance, and the live album It's Too Late to Stop Now, are widely...

, Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...

, James Taylor
James Taylor
James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000....

, Gladys Knight
Gladys Knight
Gladys Maria Knight , known as the "Empress of Soul", is an American singer-songwriter, actress, businesswoman, humanitarian, and author...

, Michael McDonald
Michael McDonald (singer)
Michael McDonald is a five-time Grammy Award winning American singer and songwriter. McDonald is known for a soulful baritone singing style and a multi-octave range. He began his career singing back-up vocals with Steely Dan...

, Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole
Natalie Maria Cole , is an American singer, songwriter and performer. The daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole, Cole rode to musical success in the mid-1970s as an R&B artist with the hits "This Will Be ", "Inseparable" and "Our Love"...

, Elton John
Elton John
Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE, Hon DMus is an English rock singer-songwriter, composer, pianist and occasional actor...

, Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Lynn Raitt is an American blues singer-songwriter and a renowned slide guitar player. During the 1970s, Raitt released a series of acclaimed roots-influenced albums which incorporated elements of blues, rock, folk and country, but she is perhaps best known for her more commercially...

, Diana Krall
Diana Krall
Diana Jean Krall, OC, OBC is a Canadian jazz pianist and singer, known for her contralto vocals. She has sold more than 6 million albums in the US and over 15 million worldwide; altogether, she has sold more albums than any other female jazz artist during the 1990s and 2000s...

, Norah Jones
Norah Jones
Norah Jones is an American singer-songwriter and occasional actress.In 2002, she launched her solo music career with the release of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album Come Away With Me, which was certified a diamond album in 2002, selling over 20 million copies...

, and Johnny Mathis
Johnny Mathis
John Royce "Johnny" Mathis is an American singer of popular music. Starting his career with singles of standards, he became highly popular as an album artist, with several dozen of his albums achieving gold or platinum status, and 73 making the Billboard charts...

. The album won eight Grammy Awards, including five for Ray Charles for Best Pop Vocal Album, Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Here We Go Again" with Norah Jones
Norah Jones
Norah Jones is an American singer-songwriter and occasional actress.In 2002, she launched her solo music career with the release of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album Come Away With Me, which was certified a diamond album in 2002, selling over 20 million copies...

, and Best Gospel Performance for "Heaven Help Us All" with Gladys Knight
Gladys Knight
Gladys Maria Knight , known as the "Empress of Soul", is an American singer-songwriter, actress, businesswoman, humanitarian, and author...

; he also received nods for his duets with Elton John and B.B. King. The album included a version of Harold Arlen
Harold Arlen
Harold Arlen was an American composer of popular music, having written over 500 songs, a number of which have become known the world over. In addition to composing the songs for The Wizard of Oz, including the classic 1938 song, "Over the Rainbow,” Arlen is a highly regarded contributor to the...

's "Over the Rainbow
Over the Rainbow
"Over the Rainbow" is a classic Academy Award-winning ballad song with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. It was written for the movie The Wizard of Oz, and was sung by Judy Garland in the movie...

", sung as a duet by Charles and Johnny Mathis
Johnny Mathis
John Royce "Johnny" Mathis is an American singer of popular music. Starting his career with singles of standards, he became highly popular as an album artist, with several dozen of his albums achieving gold or platinum status, and 73 making the Billboard charts...

, which recording was later played at his memorial service.

Two more posthumous albums, Genius & Friends
Genius & Friends
Genius & Friends is a 2005 studio album by rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, consisting of previously unreleased duets between Charles and musicians recorded during 1997 to 2005...

(2005) and Ray Sings, Basie Swings
Ray Sings, Basie Swings
Ray Sings, Basie Swings is a posthumously created album that mixes previously unreleased Ray Charles vocal performances, recorded at live concerts in the mid-1970's, together with newly recorded instrumental tracks by the contemporary Count Basie Orchestra....

(2006), were released. Genius & Friends
Genius & Friends
Genius & Friends is a 2005 studio album by rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, consisting of previously unreleased duets between Charles and musicians recorded during 1997 to 2005...

consisted of duets recorded from 1997 to 2005 with his choice of artists. Ray Sings, Basie Swings consists of archived vocals of Ray Charles from live mid-1970s performances added to new instrumental tracks specially recorded by the contemporary Count Basie Orchestra
Count Basie Orchestra
The Count Basie Orchestra is a 16 to 18 piece big band, one of the most prominent jazz performing groups of the swing era, founded by Count Basie. The band survived the late '40s decline in big band popularity and went on to produce notable collaborations with singers such as Frank Sinatra and Ella...

 and other musicians. Charles's vocals recorded from the concert mixing board were added to new accompaniments to create a "fantasy concert" recording. Gregg Field, who had performed as a drummer with both Charles and Basie, produced the album.

Legacy

Charles possessed one of the most recognizable voices in American music. In the words of musicologist Henry Pleasants:

Sinatra, and Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation....

 before him, had been masters of words. Ray Charles is a master of sounds. His records disclose an extraordinary assortment of slurs, glides, turns, shrieks, wails, breaks, shouts, screams and hollers, all wonderfully controlled, disciplined by inspired musicianship, and harnessed to ingenious subtleties of harmony, dynamics and rhythm... It is either the singing of a man whose vocabulary is inadequate to express what is in his heart and mind or of one whose feelings are too intense for satisfactory verbal or conventionally melodic articulation. He can’t tell it to you. He can’t even sing it to you. He has to cry out to you, or shout to you, in tones eloquent of despair — or exaltation. The voice alone, with little assistance from the text or the notated music, conveys the message.


Ray Charles is usually described as a baritone
Baritone
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

, and his speaking voice would suggest as much, as would the difficulty he experiences in reaching and sustaining the baritone's high E and F in a popular ballad. But the voice undergoes some sort of transfiguration under stress, and in music of gospel or blues character he can and does sing for measures on end in the high tenor range of A, B flat, B, C and ev in full voice, sometimes in an ecstatic head voice, sometimes in falsetto
Falsetto
Falsetto is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave. It is produced by the vibration of the ligamentous edges of the vocal folds, in whole or in part...

. In falsetto he continues up to E and F above high C. On one extraordinary record, "I’m Going Down to the River’ . . . he hits an incredible B flat . . . . giving him an overall range, including the falsetto extension, of at least three octaves.


In 1979, Charles was one of the first of the Georgia State Music Hall of Fame to be recognized as a musician born in the state. Ray's version of "Georgia On My Mind" was made the official state song for Georgia. In 1981, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame consists of more than 2,400 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California...

 and was one of the first inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural ceremony in 1986. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986.

In 1987, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by the Recording Academy to "performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording."...

. In 1991, he was inducted to the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts
National Medal of Arts
The National Medal of Arts is an award and title created by the United States Congress in 1984, for the purpose of honoring artists and patrons of the arts. It is the highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people. Honorees are selected by the National Endowment for the...

. In 1998 he was awarded the Polar Music Prize
Polar Music Prize
The Polar Music Prize is a Swedish international music award founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, possibly best known to be the manager of the Swedish pop group ABBA, with a donation to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music....

 together with Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar , often referred to by the title Pandit, is an Indian musician and composer who plays the plucked string instrument sitar. He has been described as the best known contemporary Indian musician by Hans Neuhoff in Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.Shankar was born in Varanasi and spent...

 in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2004 he was inducted to the Jazz Hall of Fame
Jazz hall of fame
The term Jazz hall of fame can refer to the following institutions:* Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame * The Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame , a defunct annual recognition by a non-profit organization based in North San Diego County, California...

, and inducted to the National Black Sports & Entertainment Hall of Fame. The Grammy Awards of 2005
Grammy Awards of 2005
The 47th Grammy Awards were held on February 13, 2005 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. They were hosted by Queen Latifah , and televised in the United States by CBS. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the previous year...

 were dedicated to Charles.

On December 7, 2007, Ray Charles Plaza was opened in Albany, Georgia
Albany, Georgia
Albany is a city in and the county seat of Dougherty County, Georgia, United States, in the southwestern part of the state. It is the principal city of the Albany, Georgia metropolitan area and the southwest part of the state. The population was 77,434 at the 2010 U.S. Census, making it the...

, with a revolving, lighted bronze sculpture
Bronze sculpture
Bronze is the most popular metal for cast metal sculptures; a cast bronze sculpture is often called simply a "bronze".Common bronze alloys have the unusual and desirable property of expanding slightly just before they set, thus filling the finest details of a mold. Then, as the bronze cools, it...

 of Charles seated at a piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

. Later that month, on December 26, 2007, Ray Charles was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. He was also presented with the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, during the 1991 UCLA Spring Sing
UCLA Spring Sing
Spring Sing is UCLA's oldest and greatest musical tradition, an annual music competition held in May at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. The competition brings together UCLA students to perform as solo artists, duets, bands, and a cappella groups in front of an audience of over 7,000 UCLA students, alumni,...

.

In 2003, Charles was awarded an honorary degree by Dillard University
Dillard University
Dillard University is a private, historically black liberal arts college in New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded in 1930 incorporating earlier institutions that went back to 1869, it is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church....

. Upon his death, he endowed a professorship of African-American culinary history at the school, which is the first such chair in the nation. A $20 million performing arts center at Morehouse College
Morehouse College
Morehouse College is a private, all-male, liberal arts, historically black college located in Atlanta, Georgia. Along with Hampden-Sydney College and Wabash College, Morehouse is one of three remaining traditional men's colleges in the United States....

 was named after Charles and was dedicated in September 2010.

The biopic Ray
Ray (film)
Ray is a 2004 biographical film focusing on 30 years of the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles. The independently produced film was directed by Taylor Hackford and starred Jamie Foxx in the title role; Foxx received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.Charles was set to...

, an October 2004 film
2004 in film
The year 2004 in film involved some significant events. Major releases of sequels took place. It included blockbuster films like Shrek 2, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Passion of the Christ, Meet the Fockers, Blade: Trinity, Spider-Man 2, Alien vs. Predator, Kill Bill Vol...

 portrays his life and career between 1930 and 1966 and stars Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx
Eric Marlon Bishop , professionally known as Jamie Foxx, is an American actor, singer-songwriter, stand-up comedian, and talk radio host. As an actor, his work in the film Ray earned him the Academy Award and BAFTA Award for Best Actor as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a...

 as Charles. Foxx won the 2005
77th Academy Awards
The 77th Academy Awards honored the best films of 2004 and were held on February 27, 2005, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. They were hosted by comedian Chris Rock.The nominees were announced on January 25, 2005...

 Academy Award
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 for the role. The movie is the all-time number one biopic per screen average, opening on 2006 screens and making 20 million dollars.

The RPM International building is located on the corner of Westmorland Blvd. and Washington Blvd.
Washington Boulevard (Los Angeles)
Washington Boulevard is the longest continuous east-west arterial road in Los Angeles, California. It starts by the Pacific Ocean just west of Pacific Avenue in Marina del Rey, and ends far to the east in the city of Whittier, on Whittier Boulevard. It is south of Venice Boulevard for most of its...

, which is also dedicated as the "Ray Charles Square".

Filmography

  • Swingin' Along (1961
    1961 in film
    The year 1961 in film involved some significant events, with West Side Story winning 10 Academy Awards.-Top grossing films : After theatrical re-issue- Awards :Academy Awards:* Atlantis, the Lost ContinentB...

    )
  • Ballad in Blue (1964
    1964 in film
    The year 1964 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* January 29 - The film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is released....

    )
  • The Big T.N.T. Show (1966
    1966 in film
    The year 1966 in film involved some significant events.-Events:Animation legend Walter Disney, well known for his creation of Mickey Mouse, died in 15 December 1966 of acute circulatory collapse following a diagnosis of, and surgery for, lung cancer...

    ) (documentary)
  • The Blues Brothers
    The Blues Brothers (film)
    The Blues Brothers is a 1980 musical comedy film directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as "Joliet" Jake and Elwood Blues, characters developed from a musical sketch on the NBC variety series Saturday Night Live. It features musical numbers by R&B and soul singers James...

    (1980
    1980 in film
    - Events :* May 21 - Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is released and is the biggest grosser of the year ....

    )
  • Who's The Boss (himself) 1987
  • Limit Up (1989
    1989 in film
    -Events:* Batman is released on June 23, and goes on to gross over $410 million worldwide.* Actress Kim Basinger and her brother Mick purchase Braselton, Georgia, for $20 million...

    )
  • Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones (1990
    1990 in film
    The year 1990 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* CGI technique is expanded with motion capture for CGI characters, used in Total Recall .* The first digitally-manipulated matte painting is used, in Die Hard 2....

    ) (documentary)
  • Love Affair (1994
    1994 in film
    1994 was a significant year in film.The top grosser worldwide was The Lion King, which to date stands as the highest-grossing traditionally-animated film of all time...

    )
  • Spy Hard
    Spy Hard
    Spy Hard is a 1996 American spy comedy film starring Leslie Nielsen and Nicollette Sheridan, parodying James Bond films and other action films. The introduction to the song is sung by comedy artist "Weird Al" Yankovic-Plot:...

    (1996
    1996 in film
    Major releases this year included Scream, Independence Day, Fargo, Trainspotting, The English Patient, Twister, Mars Attacks!, Jerry Maguire and a version of Evita starring Madonna.-Events:...

    )
  • The Nanny
    The Nanny
    Nanny may refer to:* Nanny, a child's caregiver* A grandmother * A Cajun word for godmother * A female goat* Nanny , a 1981–83 British drama series starring Wendy Craig* Nanny of the Maroons...

    (1999) as Sammy
  • The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave (2000
    2000 in film
    The year 2000 in film involved some significant events.The top grosser worldwide was Mission: Impossible II. Domestically in North America, Gladiator won the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor ....

    )
  • Blue's Big Musical Movie
    Blue's Big Musical Movie
    Blue's Big Musical Movie is a 2000 American direct-to-video movie based on the Blue's Clues television series, and acted as the first full length musical film for the character of Blue the Dog. The film had a television premiere in September 2000...

    (2000)
  • Ray
    Ray
    Ray may refer to:People:* Raymond* Ray * Ray In geography:* Ray, Arizona* Ray, Indiana and Michigan* Ray, North Dakota* Ray, Minnesota* Ray County, Missouri, a county in the United States...

    (2009)

External links


The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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