Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ray Charles - Know More About the Genius

By Anna Woodward

Ray Charles was born in Albany, Georgia on September 23, 1930. He began to show an interest in music from the time he was three years old. This was mainly because of the efforts of a café owner who also played the piano. Ray Charles started losing his eyesight at a very early age, and by the time he was seven years old he was completely blind. This did not deter him from doing things for himself, and with the encouragement of his mother Ray Charles continued his pursuit of music.

At the young age of seven he went on to become a charity student at a school in St. Augustine. It was at this state-supported school for the deaf and blind that he got formally trained in music. He not only learned to read and write but also arranged music in Braille. This is where he also learned to play musical instruments such as the piano, sax, trumpet, organ and clarinet.

Ray Charles had an innate gift for music and was blessed with the nickname "The Genius" very early in his career. He not only lived up to this term, but became a trendsetter in many areas of music. He had had a massive influence on various genres of music such as country, jazz and rock, gospel, rhythm and blues and more.

Ray Charles was very clever and perceptive as far as his business interests were concerned. He insisted on having control on his master recordings and went on to form his own companies and record labels. He broke into the bastion of sacred and secular music, fusing it with jazz and blues, to come up with a fiery, fervid style that is popularly known as soul music. Soul music is where the very foundation of rock and roll music lies.

Ray Charles also contributed to the integration of country and pop music with his albums which were released in 1962. His Modern Sounds of Country and Western Music, Vol. 1 and 2 ensured that he got a wide exposure to new audiences who accepted both him and his music whole heartedly. He was an expert at mixing different musical styles and came up with many path breaking albums that were hits on the Country and Pop charts.

The official state song for Georgia was Ray Charles' recording called "Georgia on my Mind". He was the winner of 17 Grammy Awards and also went on to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. Other awards he won include "The Kennedy Center Honors" and "The National Medal of Arts" which he received in 1986 and 1993 respectively. In 2004 he was ranked #10 by the Rolling Stone Magazine on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All time". He went on to be listed as #2 on their list of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time".

He died at the age of 73 due to acute liver disease on June 10, 2004, just before the release of his album "Genius Loves Company".

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