Ray Charles Robinson was born September 23, 1930 in Albany, Georgia. He is considered a pioneer of soul music, integrating R&B, gospel, and country to create hits. He is easily considered one of the greatest artists of all time.
Ray Charles went blind by the age of 7, after witnessing his brother drowning to death, he gradually began losing his sight. His mother sent him to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Eventually, he learned to read, write, and arrange music in braille. He also learned to play the piano, organ, saxophone, clarinet, and trumpet.
In 1961, Charles was set to perform at Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Georgia but cancelled the show after learning from students at Paine College (a historically black college) that the auditorium would be segregated. He was sued for breach of contract by the promoter, but later performed at a desegregated Bell Auditorium concert.
In 1979, Ray Charles was one of the first musicians born in the state to be inducted into the Georgia State Music Hall of Fame. His version of “Georgia on My Mind” has been made the official state song for Georgia.
“My version of ‘Georgia’ became the state song of Georgia. That was a big thing for me, man. It really touched me. Here is a state that used to lynch people like me suddenly declaring my version of a song as its state song. That is touching.” – Ray Charles “I never wanted to be famous. I only wanted to be great.” – Ray Charles
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