Notes of Appreciation for Ray Charles

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photoBy the time he died today in Beverly Hills at 73, Ray Charles was more than a musician. His unmistakable voice could seem like the voice of the nation: earthy, high-humored, joyful, inconsolable, alive. His 1954 recording of "I Got a Woman" has been called the launch of soul music. His recording of "Georgia on My Mind" is Georgia's official state song, but really the comforting balm of the whole country.

Ray Charles embodied something raw and deeply, authentically American. He was born in segregation-era Georgia in 1930 to a poor family that was, in his words, "on the bottom of the ladder." He was totally blind by the age of 6. His parents had both died by the time he was 15. At 22, he had already inked a deal with Atlantic Records, and stardom was only a few recordings away. Over the next fifty years, Charles would transform the worlds of gospel, blues, R&B, rock & roll and more.

Click the "Listen" link to hear a celebration of the life and music of Mr. Ray Charles.


Michael Lydon, author of "Ray Charles: Man and Music"

Al Kooper, longtime musician, singer-songwriter, producer, former professor at the Berkelee College of Music

Roy Haynes, jazz drummer, recorded with Ray Charles in the 1960s on the hit tune "Mint Julep" and others

This program aired on June 10, 2004.


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