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Ray Charles

Ray Charles was the musician most responsible for developing soul music. Singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson also did a great deal to pioneer the form, but Charles did even more to devise a new form of black pop by merging '50s R&B with gospel-powered vocals, adding plenty of flavor from contemporary jazz, blues, and (in the '60s) country. Then there was his singing; his style was among the most emotional and easily identifiable of any 20th century performer, up there with the likes of Elvis and Billie Holiday. He was also a superb keyboard player, arranger, and bandleader. The brilliance of his 1950s and '60s work, however, can't obscure the fact that he made few classic tracks after the mid-'60s, though he recorded often and performed until the year before his death.

Blind since the age of six (from glaucoma), Charles studied composition and learned many instruments at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind. His parents had died by his early teens, and he worked as a musician in Florida for a while before using his savings to move to Seattle in 1947. By the late '40s, he was recording in a smooth pop/R&B style derivative of Nat "King" Cole and Charles Brown. He got his first Top Ten R&B hit with "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" in 1951. Charles' first recordings came in for their fair share of criticism, as they were much milder and less original than the classics that would follow, although they're actually fairly enjoyable, showing strong hints of the skills that were to flower in a few years.

In the early '50s, Charles' sound started to toughen as he toured with Lowell Fulson, went to New Orleans to work with Guitar Slim (playing piano on and arranging Slim's huge R&B hit, "The Things That I Used to Do"), and got a band together for R&B star Ruth Brown. It was at Atlantic Records that Ray Charles truly found his voice, consolidating the gains of recent years and then some with "I Got a Woman," a number-two R&B hit in 1955. This is the song most frequently singled out as his pivotal performance, on which Charles first truly let go with his unmistakable gospel-ish moan, backed by a tight, bouncy horn-driven arrangement.

Throughout the '50s, Charles ran off a series of R&B hits that, although they weren't called "soul" at the time, did a lot to pave the way for soul by presenting a form of R&B that was sophisticated without sacrificing any emotional grit. "This Little Girl of Mine," "Drown in My Own Tears," "Hallelujah I Love Her So," "Lonely Avenue," and "The Right Time" were all big hits. But Charles didn't really capture the pop audience until "What'd I Say," which caught the fervor of the church with its pleading vocals, as well as the spirit of rock & roll with its classic electric piano line. It was his first Top Ten pop hit, and one of his final Atlantic singles, as he left the label at the end of the '50s for ABC.

One of the chief attractions of the ABC deal for Charles was a much greater degree of artistic control of his recordings. He put it to good use on early-'60s hits like "Unchain My Heart" and "Hit the Road Jack," which solidified his pop stardom with only a modicum of polish attached to the R&B he had perfected at Atlantic. In 1962, he surprised the pop world by turning his attention to country & western music, topping the charts with the "I Can't Stop Loving You" single, and making a hugely popular album (in an era in which R&B/soul LPs rarely scored high on the charts) with Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Perhaps it shouldn't have been so surprising; Charles had always been eclectic, recording quite a bit of straight jazz at Atlantic, with noted jazz musicians like David "Fathead" Newman and Milt Jackson.

Charles remained extremely popular through the mid-'60s, scoring big hits like "Busted," "You Are My Sunshine," "Take These Chains From My Heart," and "Crying Time," although his momentum was slowed by a 1965 bust for heroin. This led to a year-long absence from performing, but he picked up where he left off with "Let's Go Get Stoned" in 1966. Yet by this time Charles was focusing increasingly less on rock and soul, in favor of pop tunes, often with string arrangements, that seemed aimed more at the easy listening audience than anyone else. Charles' influence on the rock mainstream was as apparent as ever; Joe Cocker and Steve Winwood in particular owe a great deal of their style to him, and echoes of his phrasing can be heard more subtly in the work of greats like Van Morrison.

One approaches sweeping criticism of Charles with hesitation; he was an American institution, after all, and his vocal powers barely diminished over his half-century career. The fact remains, though, that his work after the late '60s on record was very disappointing. Millions of listeners yearned for a return to the all-out soul of his 1955-1965 classics, but Charles had actually never been committed to soul above all else. Like Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley, his focus was more upon all-around pop than many realize; his love of jazz, country, and pop standards was evident, even if his more earthy offerings were the ones that truly broke ground and will stand the test of time. He dented the charts (sometimes the country ones) occasionally, and commanded devoted international concert audiences whenever he felt like it. For good or ill, he ensured his imprint upon the American mass consciousness in the 1990s by singing several ads for Diet Pepsi. He also recorded three albums during the '90s for Warner Bros., but remained most popular as a concert draw. In 2002, he released Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again on his own Crossover imprint, and the following year began recording an album of duets featuring B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Michael McDonald, and James Taylor. After hip replacement surgery in 2003, he scheduled a tour for the following summer, but was forced to cancel an appearance in March 2004. Three months later, on June 10, 2004, Ray Charles succumbed to liver disease at his home in Beverly Hills, CA. The duets album, Genius Loves Company, was released two months after his death. The biopic Ray hit screens in the fall of 2010 and was a critical and commercial success, with the actor who portrayed Charles in the move, Jamie Foxx, winning the 2005 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role. Two more posthumous albums, Genius & Friends and Ray Sings, Basie Swings, appeared in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Charles' recordings began reappearing in various facsimile editions, reissues, re-masters, and box sets as his entire recorded legacy received the attention that befits a legendary American artist. ~ Richie Unterberger $ Steve Leggett, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5

Comments

Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. However if you don't read this you will die in two days. Now that you've started reading this don't stop. This is so scary. Put this on five songs in the next 143 min. when your done press F6 an your lovers name will pop up on your screen in big letters. Trust me it works
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in the next 2 days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in BIG letters this is so scary cud it actually work
Sammy Davis Junior oh my my
70's was by far the besst☺️
latisha.shea r e r 7 6
He helped me fall asleep
Love Ray 's voice.
An inspirationa l leader of songs that your heart and soul and body and body makes you feel about the situation within yourself..
I'm 16 (1998) and I absolutely love Ray Charles! I guess I'm his little girl!!!!!!
thanks
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in the next 2 days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in BIG letters this is so scary cud it actually works
I like Ray Charles he had soul
Hey ladies want to lose weight fast? Check this out! http://e0387 5 m 8 a y g k 4 v 1 n s g 9 g j g o y b 4 . h o p . c l i c k b a n k . n e t /
yes, yes and yes
Like rain ? Then burn natural wooden logs in a free air enviroinment like outside and after two days, it will begin to rain and our drout will be no more, all in season of course

Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in the next 2 days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in BIG letters this is so scary cud it actually works
The movie Ray was released in fall 2004 not 2010. Please correct this misstatement .
Nowhere, I repeat Nowhere did I comments about his song Georgia. His song, and anyone who says it's not is crazy. I get shivers when I hear him sing this song. He also did duets with Willie Nelson, and they were incredible - The person who reviewed Ray, obviously didn't know everything about him, even if he thought he did!
t_stout0
OK, either I'm blind, or they have just completely overlooked a song that Ray owns without question, Georgia. No one should even consider re-doing this song, because Ray OWNS it! I'm not saying it's his greatest, but nobody does it better!!!
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be
we're pregnant
He was one of my friend's great uncle by marriage.
As one of the greatest pianist of his era, Ray Charles was and always will be an incredibly amazing man, and talented man as well. As he showed us through such beautiful songs as the unforgettabl e "Georgia on My Mind", Ray helped us feel both glee and passion, even at times when people could be going through hardships. I thank you Ray Charles for your contribution to the world of music. May you RIP.
The man was the best there ever was
mikedearmas1
I got woman, way over town that's good to me.
Love it. Good music sung by the Ray Charles will never DIE.
MIKE D
juliusstrong 5 0
you are the bomb juliusstrong 5 0 @ g m a i l . c o m
kyralindsay8 1
Love Ray Charles music rest in peace
I love you Ray!!! RIP.
alan_thompso n 4
I can't get enough of this guy
pvc3434
Love his voice. :-)
R.I.P Ray love.man . Gone with ur bad self
So that's where Kanye took that from
dickcaudle19 4 5
Loved this guy,since Jr. hi ,and goin' on 70-can make you laugh,cry,an d boogie TOO!!!
Love you allways
I love you ray Charles?
Rip ray...love and miss u....XOXO
A blessing from God.
No doubt..one of greatest,per i o d !
Another miracle and blessing to give us this great music RIP Ray.
t.a.morgan48 4
Unappreciate d as a pianist.
When I first saw you I SAID OH MY I SAID OH MY THAT MY DREAM....... . . . D E B B I E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I like his so gs
mjfoxr1
It really ticks me off how kanye west copied ray charles with "she gives me money when im in need" and how beyonce copied sam cooke with "dont know much about algebra but if this 1 could be with you.." Or somethin like that and how flo-rida copied the drifters' "there goes my baby" gee i really wish id lived back in the 50s and 60s when original music existed
kumattesocce r
I love this song
kumattesocce r
I love
i love hit the road jack!!!! i am nine/9
Priceless American history. What a man!!!!
Please follow me ps if you follow me ill follow you.
��
The biopic Ray hit screens in the fall of 2010...with the actor who portrayed Charles..., Jamie Fox x, wi nning the 2005 Academy Award for Best Actor for
Great! Now I'm crying
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