Biography, albums, The Very Best Of Ray
by Ray Charles.
June 11, 2004
Ray Charles died in his residence in Los
Angeles on June 10, 2004 at the age of 73.
Article added in June 2000
He is an icon of American jazz, soul and popular music: Ray Charles. The
Very Best of Ray Charles, released in March 2000, is an album that should
be part of all CD collections because it lives up to its title's ambition.
After more than 50 years in show business, Ray Charles can look back on a
career rich in great songs and bestsellers. Among the 16 songs
on this compilation, 15 have been recorded between 1954 and 1965. Only Seven
Spanish Angels with Willie Nelson is from 1984 (a Country & Western #1 hit).
Born in Albany, Georgia, in 1930, Ray Charles began going
blind at the age of five. One year later, he was totally sightless. He grew up
in a poor neighborhood in Greenville, Florida. Ray Charles was first
encouraged by local pianist Wylie Pitman to play music. Art Tatum, Nat King
Cole, swing, gospel, blues and country music influenced Ray Charles while he
attended the state school for the blind in St. Augustine. In 1945, his beloved
mother died. Instead of returning to school after the funeral, he went to
Jacksonville, Florida, to play with local combos. In Tampa, he met with
guitarist Gosady McGee. One day, Ray Charles asked his friend what the farthest
point from Tampa was. Seattle was the response - and that's where he went to in
Soon, Ray Charles managed to make a name for himself. McGee
followed him to Seattle and, together with bassist Milton Garred, they formed
the McSon Trio ("Mc" for McGee, "Son" from Robinson). Jack
Lauderdale, the head of the Los Angeles-based Down Beat Records, discovered
him. In 1949, Ray Charles gave out his debut 78 (under the name of The Maxin Trio)
with Confession Blues, which became a national R&B hit. One year
later, he moved to Los Angeles where he recorded Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand
(this time under his own name). Then he became a featured member of label-mate
Lowell Fulson's band. Ray Charles evolved and grew out of being a Charles
Brown imitator. Because of financial difficulties of his Swing Time label,
Atlantic Records bought his contract in 1951. In September of the following
year, he made his first recordings for his new bosses Ahmet Ertegun and Herb
Abramson: It should've Been Me.
By November 1954, Ray Charles had assembled a quality combo
with Donald Wilkerson, tenor saxophone, and David "Fathead" Newman,
baritone saxophone. I've Got A Woman was the song they recorded the
same month and which ended the taboo of not mingling blues and gospel. It was
Ray Charles' breakthrough and a number 1 R&B hit. From then on, his career
Besides I've Got A Woman, the sixteen songs on The
Very Best of Ray Charles include A Fool For You (R&B #1 in 1955), What'D I Say Parts I & II (R&B
#1 in 1959, Pop #6 in 1959), Georgia On My Mind (R&B #3, Pop #1 in 1960), Hit
The Road Jack (R&B and Pop #1 in 1961), Unchain My Heart
(R&B #1, Pop #9 in 1961) and many other songs in their best, original
versions. - Ray Charles CDs at
The Very Best of Ray Charles. Rhino Entertainment Company, March 2000. Get the CD from Amazon.com,
by Ray Charles. - Ray Charles CDs at
Added on March 6, 2005:
At the end of February 2005, Jamie Foxx has won
a well-deserved Oscar as Best Actor for his impersonation of Ray Charles in
the film Ray. Get the film Ray
on DVD from Amazon.com,
February 15, 2005:
Ray Charles has won eight Grammys:
- RECORD OF THE YEAR: HERE WE GO AGAIN - Ray Charles & Norah Jones - Track
from GENIUS LOVES COMPANY.
- ALBUM OF THE YEAR: GENIUS LOVES COMPANY - RAY CHARLES & V.A.
- BEST POP COLLABORATION WITH VOCALS: HERE WE GO AGAIN - Ray Charles &
- BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM: GENIUS LOVES COMPANY - RAY CHARLES & VARIOUS
- BEST GOSPEL PERFORMANCE: HEAVEN HELP US ALL - RAY CHARLES & GLADYS
KNIGHT - Track from GENIUS LOVES COMPANY.
- BEST INSTRUMENTAL ARRANGEMENT ACCOMPANYING VOCALISTS: OVER THE RAINBOW -
Victor Vanacore, Arranger (Ray Charles & Johnny Mathis - Track from GENIUS
- BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM, non-classical: GENIUS LOVES COMPANY.
- BEST SURROUND SOUND ALBUM: GENIUS LOVES COMPANY.
Ray Charles: Genius Loves Company. EMI, 2004. Get the CD from Amazon.com,
Amazon.de. Ray Charles' duets with Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Bonnie
Raitt, James Taylor, B. B. King and others, posthumously released, once more
remind us of the loss of a famous pianist, singer and songwriter.
December 21, 2004
Genius Loves Company
Genius Loves Company has been nominated for 10
Grammies: Best Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Record of the Year
("Here We Go Again" with Norah Jones), Best Gospel Performance
("Heaven Help Us All" with Gladys Knight), Best Traditional R&B
Vocal Performance ("Sinner's Prayer" with BB King), TWO for the Best
Vocal Collaboration category (Here We Go Again with Norah Jones and Sorry
Seems to Be the Hardest Word with Elton John), Best Instrumental Arrangement
Accompanying Vocals (Victor Vanacore for "Over the Rainbow" with
Johnny Mathis), Best Engineered Album (non-classical), Best Surround Sound
landmark CD ist Ray Charles' 250th recording effort.
By early December 2004, Genius Loves Company has become the best selling recording of Ray Charles' six-decade
career. The CD was released on August 31 and has been a near-permanent fixture at the
top of the Billboard charts since that time. As of December 1, when the last
Soundscan numbers were reported, it had sold in excess of 1.2 million copies
in the United States alone.
his lifetime, Ray Charles has received 12 GRAMMY Awards, the first four in 1960 for
"Let the Good Times Roll," "The Genius of Ray Charles,"
and his signature "Georgia on My Mind" (in two categories). In 1987,
the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) presented him with
the "Lifetime Achievement Award." In January 2004, just two months
before the completion of Genius Loves Company, NARAS President Neil Portnow,
presented Charles with the "President's Merit Award" at his
long-time offices and studios in central Los Angeles, a facility built in 1960
and one that was recently designated an historical landmark by the city.
a new movie based on Charles' life that stars Jamie Foxx, opened in October
America to rave reviews. On December 1, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in
Cleveland, OH, of which Charles was an original inductee, opened a special
exhibition featuring memorabilia and archival material from his prolific
career. - Ray Charles CDs at