(born Ray Charles Robinson)
23, 1930 - Present
Ray was born in Georgia but raised in
Greenville, Florida. He began to lose his sight at age five due to glaucoma that went
untreated. By the time he was seven, he was blind. As a child he attended the St.
Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind where he learned to play a variety of instruments,
ultimately settling on the piano. After leaving school Charles played in north Florida
bands before he moved to Seattle in 1948 and formed the McSon Trio, later called the
Charles has worked in a variety of genres, including blues, R&B, soul, country, and pop. Many refer to him as the father of soul; by mixing blues, gospel, and rhythm & blues in the mid-1950s, Charles began making his mark in music history.
Ray began his recording career in 1949 when he and his trio cut "Confession Blues" for the Downbeat label. The record went to number 2 that year on the R&B charts. A short time with Swingtime Records in the early 1950s resulted in two more hit singles, "Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand" in 1951 and "Kiss Me Baby" in 1952. Both records made it into the R&B top 10. In late 1952, Atlantic bought Charles's contract from Swingtime, and he began a memorable blues and R&B period. From 1954 to 1960, Charles placed nearly two dozen records on the R&B charts, including the number 1 hits "I've Got a Woman" and "A Fool for You" (1955), "Drown in My Own Tears" (1956), and "What'd Say (Part I)" (1959). Another hit, Charles's version of "Georgia On My Mind" (115 k, 10 sec.), made it to number 1 on the Billboard charts in 1960 and won him two Grammys: one for best male recording artist and the other for best rhythm & blues recording.
Early in the l950s Charles worked with blues guitarists Lowell Fulson and Guitar Slim. It was Charles who arranged and played on Slim's trademark tune, "The Things That I Used to Do." By the time he scored with "What'd I Say," which may be an important link between blues, R&B, soul, and rock, Charles had become one of the biggest black artists in the music business.
In 1960, Ray's contract with Atlantic ended and he signed with ABC-Paramount. Although "Georgia on My Mind" and his three number 1s in 1961- "One Mint Julep," "Hit the Road Jack" (written by Percy Mayfield), and "Unchain My Heart' '-were done in a rhythm & blues style, Charles began his move into country and pop music the following year after having yet another number 1, "I Can't Stop Loving You." His 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country Music, also went to the top of the album charts.
Ray had his ups and downs, he was arrested for heroin use in 1965, but his remarkable tenacity kept his career going through the '60s and '70s. In 1980 he appeared in the movie The Blues Brothers; two years later he was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame. In 1986 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He continues to record and perform.
"Georgia On My Mind" is from Ray Charles - His Greatest Hits Vol 1 Copyright © DCC Compact Classics, Inc. 1987