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Ray Charles

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"I'd like to think that when I sing a song, I can let you know all about the heartbreak, struggle, lies and kicks in the ass I've gotten over the years for being black and everything else, without actually saying a word about it."

Rise to fame:

Ray Charles the singer, song writer, and pianist was born on September 23rd 1930 in Albany, Georgia. When he was only six years old he lost his sight from glaucoma. He learned to read and write music in braille and play piano and organ at his school for the blind. He was orphaned at the young age of fifteen and he left school to begin playing music for a living. He moved to Seattle in 1947.

By dropping his last name, Ray Charles was able to performed at clubs in the smooth lounge-swing style of Nat "King" Cole. After some hits on Swing Time Records, he decided to switch to Atlantic Records in 1952. There Ray Charles began to develop a rougher blues and gospel style along with writing and collaborating with many different artist.

Prime Years:

Charles work for New Orleans blues man Guitar Slim, he arranged and played piano on "The Things I Used To Do" in 1953. The record went on to sale a million copies. Afterwards he went on to record his own "I've Got a Woman" in 1955 with an arrangement of horns, gospel-style piano, and impassioned vocals that led to the gospel-pop and soul music of the 1960s and to his hit "What'd I Say" in1959. Possessing a multifaceted talent, he recorded with jazz vibist Milt Jackson, made a country-and-western album that sold three million copies in1962, and continued to release a variety of pop hits, Broadway standards, and blues, gospel, and jazz albums.

A huge influence on music during his early years, he influenced both white and African American musicians and audiences. And even though he was convicted of abusing drugs during the 1950s, he was so acceptable to all Americans that he became practically the chief figure for promoting Pepsi-Cola. He was also invited to perform at multiple different national, political and patriotic events. In 2001, his touching depiction of "America the Beautiful" was played all through Major League ballparks for the duration of the 7th inning stretch when games resumed after the 9/11 attack. He was still performing and entertaining well into his seventies, in 2002 he released the album "Thanks For Bringing Love Around."

Home Life:

Charles was married twice and fathered twelve children by seven different women. He was married for the first time to Eileen Williams on July 31, 1951. In this marriage no children were produced and it ended in a divorce in 1952. He married Della Beatrice Howard Robinson, one of his original Raelettes, on April 5, 1955. Three children were produced in his second marriage. They divorced in 1977. Norma Pinella was his long term girlfriend and partner at the time of his death.

His children



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