Ray Charles Blog #2

Whenever I hear the name Ray Charles, many words including innovator, visionary, and genius come to mind.  “Brother Ray,” as he was called by his friends and family, was a man known historically for his exceptional piano playing, singing, and song writing. He is considered the pioneer of the genre of soul.  By combining different materials from jazz, gospel, and blues music, Ray Charles created a brand new way of listening to music.

Many people these days know Ray Charles as the famous blind musician who has many hit songs that we still listen to today and will probably continue listening to for years to come. Most people today actually do not realize that Ray Charles was not born a blind man. He gradually lost his eye sight, reportedly from glaucoma.  He was blind by the age of seven.

Although many people like to believe that certain famous people like musicians, athletes, actors were just born with their talent and that they did not have to work as hard as “normal” people, they could not be more wrong about Ray Charles. After losing his eyesight, he had to rely on his other senses to cope with this setback in his life.  He used his blindness as a sort of tool to heighten his sense of memory and hearing, which was extremely useful in his singing. He is most notably famous for playing the piano but he also knew how to play the saxophone, trumpet, organ, and clarinet.  Losing his parents at an early stage in his teen years and becoming an orphan, he used his love for music to escape from all his worries and tragedies and channeled the sound of his voice and various instruments to create inspirational and emotional hits.

Like many artists before him, Brother Ray travelled around the country and did many tours, singing in different cities and in different venues all throughout the 1950s.  Born in Albany, Georgia in September 1930, one of my personal favorites, “Georgia on My Mind” was recorded in 1954 and later became the actual official song of the state of Georgia.  Many songs and albums were made after that and soon after, he received numerous awards including the Grammy’s.  The influence Ray Charles has had on the evolution of music was astronomical. The way Ray Charles introduced this new art form of soul music and his ability to make music despite all the setbacks he had in his life is truly inspiring.

Many musicians of all genres have been moved by Ray Charles and his genius work. Artists including Frank Sinatra have even said that Ray Charles was “the only true genius in show business.” Billy Joel even went as far as saying that Ray Charles and his music was “more important than the “King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley.”

Being introduced to many artists by my mother and father really opened my eyes to all different types of music.  Ray Charles and his songs bring about many memories from my childhood that cannot be imitated by another musician. Songs like “Georgia on My Mind,” “Hit The Road, Jack,” and “What’d I Say” really stir up some nostalgia.  His passion for music really show in the lyrics of his songs and that just makes me even more of a fan. The way he captivates his audience by his remarkable piano playing to his pitch perfect vocals, Ray Charles is truly one of the greatest artists of all time and deserves the title of “Genius.” What really makes me love his music is the way he performs each song. You can tell he really enjoys what he does and brings to the table and that just makes people want to listen more.  Being passionate in what you do no matter what the circumstances are, is what I feel Ray Charles really emulates.  His journey to greatness was nothing short of legendary but his way to stardom was not an uncomplicated one.  He is without a doubt, one of the greatest musician of the mid 90s and one of the greatest artist the world has ever known.