RAY CHARLES. a.k.a Ray Charles Robinson a.k.a GENIUS. Born September 23, 1930, in Albany, Georgia.  You just can't put Ray Charles in a bag. Well, maybe one, with the label "Total Musician" on it.  No, Mr Charles' artistry knows no boundaries, but having to choose a category in order to write this short biography I can't think of a better one than "Soul", He has so much of it. Where many musicians will follow one "Style" or another, Ray Charles covers the lot. The whole spectrum of Music. It can truthfully be said that he is the Best in the Business. He has turned so many musicians on. There must be millions in the World by now. "Tell Me What'd I Say ! "  Those words where a rallying cry for young musicians of the 1950's-60's. It was a great song to play, and the introduction gave every budding keyboard player a chance to get groovy without stretching his technique or his brain too much. Groovy's the word. It grooved, or as we used to say, it swung, so that's what the bands were getting into, and the audiences. The bass lines were not hard to get around, the drum parts were simple, in fact there was nothing played on that recording that required you to have a great formal musical education behind you in order to play it. So what was it that made it tick ?  The Groove. The Feel.  The precision and cohesion that comes when a bunch of people are all on the same wavelength.

It was a happy track. It was a FUN track. And it was Tight but Loose. When the band hit the feel together the "Big Magic" happened. It was just a ball to play music. And it had Jazz influence in there too. The spontaniety in the feel put an extra edge on one's playing. One of the great things about it was that the guys got plenty of solos to play, you could extend the number of choruses you felt like playing, and it gave you a chance to stretch our wings in not a few musical directions. In 1959 every British Rock Musician worth his salt was playing "What'd I say", -in the 2 "I's" or wherever. Gene Vincent sung the song, so did Georgie Fame, Vince Taylor, Tony Sheridan, Everyone sung the song and the young musicians tried to get it on like the record. Like Mr Ray Charles. And We did ! That was the magic of the Gentleman. Mr Charles possesses that incredible, indefinable talent for touching your Soul, so that the song wasn't just another old " 12 Bar Blues". The song could bear repetition because it got hold of your Spirit and we could make every performance sound as fresh as the one before. Ray Charles was raised in Greenville, Florida.  A neighbour  owned a small store where Young Ray soaked up the Boogie Woogie, Blues, and Big Band sounds on the  jukebox. At the age of six He lost his eyesight when He contracted glaucoma. At the St. Augustine school for the deaf and blind Ray studied composition and was a master on the saxophone and of course, Piano.  In fact he played a number of instruments.  After nine years at the school, Ray started gigging around Florida and then moved to the West Coast.

There he led a very polished trio reminiscent of the great Nat King Cole trio. He cut some tracks for the "Downbeat" and "Swingtime" labels and then signed with Atlantic. He turned out hit after hit with numbers such as " I Got A Woman" "Hallelujah I Love Her So" "Drown In My Own Tears" and the aforementioned " What'd I Say".  After several years with Atlantic, He moved to ABC/Paramount.  C&W, Blues, Soul, Jazz,Rock, Gospel, Lush Classical String Arrangements, Ray Charles takes all the musical ingredients, adds a huge chunk of soul, and produces music that reaches the Hearts of Millions of people. And in Mr Charles we hear the paradox that is Music, indeed that is all great Art. He plays for the Moment, what is happening at that particular moment, the performance, yet his music transcends time. I think there's a lesson to be learned in that.  Don't look to the past with regret, and don't look to the future with anxiety. Live for now. I'll leave you with a quote from Sonny Rollins -  " Now's The Time".   Ray Charles was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on January 23rd, 1986. Now hear this my friends. March 2nd,1988 -Lifetime Achievement award at the Grammy Awards. June 2, 1993 - Lifetime Achievement award by the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.  March 1,1994 - Ray Charles is awarded the 12th Grammy of his career.  March 2, 1995 - The Rhythm and Blues Foundation presents Ray Charles with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  There You have it. At the top of the page you'll see the word "Genius' next to his name. That's no flimsy adjective. As other musicians have a nickname like "Earl" or "Duke" or "Fats", so Mr Charles is known in the Music Business by His Nickname - " Genius ". I hope this article whets your appetite. For more info on this outstanding gentleman check out the many fine sites available on the web. God Bless Ray Charles. (c) joemoretti


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