September 23, 1930
June 10, 2004, due to complications of liver disease
Also Known As:
Fondly called as "The Genius," his full name is Ray Charles Robinson. Ray was an inspiring pianist and singer who fused the elements of gospel music and blues then stamped it with his unique style. He also appeared on films such as "In the Heat of the Night" and "The Cincinnati Kid." Ray Charles was also a producer and formed Tangerine Records, Tangerine Music, and Racer Music Company under the Ray Charles Enterprise umbrella.
Type of Compositions:
His music style was a fusion of blues, country, gospel and pop.
He was 7 years old when he became blind due to glaucoma, but this did not hinder the young Ray. He went to St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind from 1937 to 1945. It is there where he learned how to play the piano and the saxophone as well as studying composition. He was influenced by such performers as Nat King Cole and Charles Brown. Ray would later on perform in clubs around Florida at the age of 15. He moved to Seattle in 1948 and formed a group called Maxim Trio. A year later they had their first hit, "Confession Blues."
Some of his famous songs are "I Got a Woman," "What'd I Say," "Drown in My Own Tears," "Hallelujah I Love Her So," "I Can't Stop Loving You," "Take These Chains From My Heart," "Georgia On My Mind" and “Ruby."
Ray signed with Atlantic Records in 1952 and with ABC-Paramount in 1959. In 1979, the state of Georgia approved his recording of "Georgia On My Mind" as its official song. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He also received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.
Watch Ray Charles sing and perform Georgia On My Mind.